Are you grown up enough to handle this chocolate cake?

There's chocolate cake, and then there's chocolate cake for grownups, where richness and complexity are more welcome than simple sweetness, and the chocolate has a lightly bitter edge to it (sort of like adulting, if you ask me). Chocolate Guinness Bundt Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream is precisely this sort of cake; and with all the flavors of an Irish coffee in cake form, it's an ideal way to wrap up a St. Patrick's Day meal. No special equipment or advance techniques are needed to make this cake, just a quick trip to the beer aisle.

It's All About the Stout

Many stout beers get their deep flavor and color from roasted barley, which adds a coffee-like depth to beer, along with a pleasant toasted bitterness. Guinness Extra Stout is the most widely recognized, widely available choice, and its dry minerality is terrific with chocolate. Want to play up the chocolate in the batter even more? Look for a chocolate stout, or a porter that mentions chocolate malt in its description. Sometimes these beers use actual chocolate in their recipes, but it's more common that they're based on barley roasted to a point where it looks and smells like very dark chocolate.

Any stout will do, but one style in particular is worth a special mention. Milk stout has a mellower, sweeter flavor than dry stouts. It doesn't have actual milk added to it — the magically creamy, burnt sugar flavor comes from lactose, or milk sugar, that is added during brewing. They're considered terrific dessert beers, and if you have any leftovers after baking, grab some vanilla ice cream to make a milk stout float — you'll forget about root beer forever. The American branch of Guinness developed an Over the Moon Milk Stout in 2019; Left Hand Brewing's Nitro Milk Stout is also a widely available choice.

Let's Get Baking

Once you've chosen your stout, the rest of the recipe is really easy. How easy? You don't even need an electric mixer. Whisk a handful of dry ingredients together in one bowl, combine melted butter, beer, and buttermilk in a separate bowl, and you're nearly done. If the melted butter is still hot when you add cold beer and buttermilk, it may solidify in the form of flakes. While this won't affect the taste or texture of the cake, it will get a little trickier to blend. The easiest solution is to microwave the mixture in 30-second increments, stirring gently to re-melt the butter.

chocolate guinness cake ingredients and bundt pan
Credit: Jill Lightner

A word to the wise: This eggless batter bakes up into a very tender cake, which tends to stick to Bundt pans with complex patterns even if you try every trick in the book for pan preparation. A well-buttered tube pan with a cautionary sheet of parchment paper to line the bottom keeps things frustration-free.

Because you're making a Bundt cake, you don't have to fuss with frosting a layer cake. (Another check mark in the simplicity column.) If you want to gild the lily, Satiny Chocolate Glaze is the way to go, but it's hard to beat the delectable simplicity of whiskey-flavored whipped cream.

While specialized techniques for whipped cream abound, I vote for the simple route. Add everything to the bowl at once, use chilled cream but don't worry about the temperature of the bowl or the whiskey, and use an electric mixer if you have one; a fat balloon whisk is the second-best choice. The absolute laziest way is via a whipped cream dispenser. As a bonus, cream dispensers will keep leftover whipped cream fresh for about 10 days, and any leftover whiskey whipped cream you might have is wonderful on hot chocolate or slowly dissolving into an Irish coffee.