The Snake Bite

June 17, 2021
20 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes One 9-inch cake
Author Notes

This cake was inspired by the oh-so-tasty cocktail concoction of lager and cider known as a "snakebite." For the cake, I've replaced the lager with a stout, and have opted for fermented pear cider in place of the more traditional apple. The slightly effervescent pear cider–cream cheese frosting swoons contentedly upon a truly dark, rich, and delicious chocolate stout cake. I think you'll like it. —arielleclementine

Test Kitchen Notes

The Snake Bite is a heady chocolate stout cake with a sprightly cream cheese frosting that's been laced with hard pear cider. We have only two things to say: 1) arielleclementine is a genius. 2) Where has this cake been all our lives? —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the cake
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup Guinness Extra Stout, at room temperature
  • For the frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup fermented pear cider (I like Ace's)
  • 1 dried pear slice, for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sour cream. Then whisk in the melted butter and Guinness. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and combine with a rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. Put the softened butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until creamy and well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar, mixing until combined. Slowly pour in the pear cider and mix until the frosting comes together. Let the frosting set up a bit in the refrigerator until the cake is ready.
  5. When the cake is cool, transfer it to a platter. Spread the frosting on top of the cake, taking care to push it all the way to the edges. Garnish with a slice of dried pear, if you wish, and enjoy with a glass of pear cider!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Erica Gaetano
    Erica Gaetano
  • Bevi
  • Ash King
    Ash King
  • Synky
  • Nancy Quattrone-Payne
    Nancy Quattrone-Payne
I have always loved food. My favorite books as a kid always featured food (eg. The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies- so much candy!) and I loved cooking shows like Yan Can Cook and The Frugal Gourmet. I started cooking the Thanksgiving dinner for my family when I was 13 years old. I have food52 to thank for inspiring me to come up with my own recipes, as well as for introducing me to a community of fantastic cooks and their amazing recipes. I try my best to cook locally and seasonally, and I tend to prefer straightforward, simple recipes where the ingredients get to shine. I live in wonderful Austin, Texas with my husband, Andy (a video game programmer) and my son, Henry (an 8-month-old who loves to eat).

110 Reviews

Erica G. March 17, 2022
This cake has become a St. Patty's Day tradition in our house (3 years running!). We don't even make the frosting bc we eat half of it right from the pan with spoons while it's still hot :)
Alyson C. October 17, 2020
I want to make this but don’t have pear coder. Could I use the Guinness and apple cider instead? Let me know your thoughts
Amanda T. January 10, 2021
Considering how little cider is actually in the frosting -- and the fact that apple & pear complement each other -- I would say you could def use apple cider to replace the pear. In fact, I think I would prefer the more traditional apple cider to the "perry" (as the English call it).
Nicholas January 28, 2023
Agreed. Pear cider . . . Seriously, where does one find that in Manhattan?
Pam O. January 28, 2023
😄 Visit upstate
Marianne June 12, 2020
I have been searching for a chocolate cake recipe I can say I love, and this is it. As I wanted my children to be able to eat it too, I used a chocolate cream cheese frosting instead. This recipe will be on my repeat list. Thank you Arielle!
Michelle G. January 19, 2020
Am thinking I might try a luscious chocolate or peanut butter stout?! May intensify the cocoa cake!
PJ B. May 8, 2020
I'm going with a peanut butter/cream cheese frosting!
plevee September 22, 2019
I've made this cake 5 times now. It is the easiest and most accurate recipe I have and has everyone licking up the crumbs from their plates and asking for more every time. The only change I make is Meyer's rum in the frosting instead of pear.
Stina February 7, 2019
Love the moistness and rich mellow flavor of this not-overly-sweet cake. It is delicious frosted or not. I've made it at least five times, using really good cocoa. It is a new family favorite. So now, Guinness is added to the list of must-have-on-hand kitchen staples, also not a bad thing! Thank you.
plevee March 18, 2018
This was the best cake I've made in 2 years. Not too sweet, perfect dense soft texture. I used Cacao Barry cocoa powder and it was densely chocolatey and moist.
Bevi February 23, 2018
This cake is awesome. I made 2 cakes and cut them into a heart shape. One batch of icing covered the cake. The taste is so deep and layered with flavor. This is gong into my regular cake repertoire from now on! Thanks Arielle! This is a winner!
Stina February 15, 2018
This cake was so moist and rich, but also fine-textured. I used really good cocoa. I was in a rush so didn't really meet the room temperature guideline, so batter didn't blend entirely smoothly, and I had to make one substitution - I had no sour cream, so used kefir. But seemed to turn out perfect regardless. Next time (there will definitely be a next time) I'll experiment with icing flavors, since to me, the pear didn't stand out, I like another commenter's orange zest idea. Also could simply dust with cocoa for a simpler presentation, since the cake is so moist and flavorful that icing is unnecessary. How about just some raspberries?! Bottom line - an easy rich tender chocolate cake to dress up or not.
Lisa November 5, 2017
This cake is so moist and delicious. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and bake it in a 9x13 pan. I decreased the sugar by half and the cake was still decadent. I also used oil instead of butter and used Left Hand Milk Stout for the beer. I made my own cream cheese frosting and added orange zest to it. I will definitely make this again!
Chris R. March 29, 2017
Wonderful recipe! It's very easy; both the cake and icing is very good. It's a keeper for me, thank you!
Jeannie I. March 12, 2016
Our family St. Pat's dinner is this Sunday and I am so excited to make the Snake Bite cake again! One change I've made is to substitute Bailey's for the pear cider, which I didn't have when I first made it 2 years ago. It's SO good. Thanks for the recipe and for this forum!
Ash K. November 18, 2014
Cake was a hit! Rich, moist and delicious and the icing was perfect. I garnished the cake with some poached pears and it was divine. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Synky January 26, 2014
Really great cake! What I did was double the cake recipe to create two layers (more goodness) and kept the frosting amount the same (was definitely plenty). The cake was moist and just the right amount of sweet (not very) and the frosting was veeeery tasty! Thank you for sharing the recipe!
pascale721 January 10, 2014
Can't wait to try this recipe! Thank you for sharing arielleclementine!!!
neighome November 4, 2013
I make this for a party last night, and it was a hit. The cake was very moist and chocolatey. As written, the frosting is perfect for quick, top of the cake only, hint of cider loveliness. But it was rather loose for the layer cake I had in mind. I doubled the cake recipe, made a simple chocolate ganache to fill the layers, and added quite a bit more powdered sugar to the frosting to stiffen it up. It worked perfectly. I did love the cider flavor, but i wished it were a little more pronounced. Just adding more cider would make the frosting too loose. Next time I will try to boil down a larger volume of cider to see if I am able to get a more concentrated flavor.
bebe L. September 21, 2013
made this last night. variations: red IPA instead of guinness & grated nutmeg in the batter and my frosting was whipped cream cheese with creme fraiche, rum, lime zest and maple syrup.
Janelle September 18, 2013
I made this cake a few days ago for my boyfriend.

First off, the actual cake was delicious. Especially if you're washing it down with the rest of the Guinness.

The frosting..not so much. I'm sorry but, a whole stick of butter? It made the entire thing just taste like butter. I couldn't even taste the cream cheese. I even triple checked that I was making it correctly. It just did not deliver as a frosting and I actually threw it out because it made me gag. Yikes.

The cake was wonderful. I will be making it again, I may just have to modify the frosting a bit.
aargersi September 19, 2013
Not sure "it made me gag" is necessary. In fact it is unkind. Perhaps "it wasn't to my liking, I will cut back on the butter next time". Think about if this was your recipe.
Heather November 27, 2013
Okay mom!
Derek P. April 1, 2013
i'm going to try this, the idea is FANTASTIC
Nancy Q. March 18, 2013
Here is the Snake bite cake we're having for Jeremiah's Birthday tonight
arielleclementine March 18, 2013
I hope you enjoy it!