The Snake Bite

January 28, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Food52 Review: 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

Makes: one 9-inch cake


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)
In This Recipe


  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!

More Great Recipes:
Cake|Beer|Cheese|Chocolate|Cream Cheese|Pear|Sour Cream|Bake|Christmas|Fall|Halloween|Thanksgiving

Reviews (100) Questions (8)

100 Reviews

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!<br />
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.<br /><br />First off, the actual cake was delicious. Especially if you're washing it down with the rest of the Guinness. <br /><br />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.<br /><br />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
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 18, 2013
I hope you enjoy it!
klloch September 28, 2012
I cannot get Aces or any brand of pear cider for the frosting...suggestions for substitutions?
Author Comment
arielleclementine September 28, 2012
thanks for making my cake! the pear cider flavor is nice, but pretty subtle so you could easily substitute hard apple cider, or you could switch it up and use any pale ale (like bass) and call it a black-and-tan cake. happy baking!
Boofimus April 11, 2012
First off, I really REALLY like the cake. It's very moist, and very fudgy, without feeling like it's under done. It had a lovely even top (dodgy electric oven in a student house means that this is a serious serious rarity for me!) <br /> <br />The fall down for me was the icing. Round one: horrible gooey mess that wouldn't set. Left it in the fridge for over an hour before I gave up and tried to pour some on anyway, only to find it had (apparently) split. Disaster. Made the whole thing look like cat vomit :( <br /> <br />So cake number 1 got mashed up to make cake pops, because there was really no disguising the icky nearly frosting. <br /> <br />But I loved the cake, and I'd promised it to work colleagues. So I ran out to Tesco ten minutes before closing and started again. No time to cook a whole 9 inch cake before bed (and I couldn't bear washing up my tin twice!) so this time I used the same recipe to do 12 cup cakes. 22 minutes ish - perfect. I had been planning to just make up some basic cream cheese frosting. And then I thought I'd try your recipe again sans cider (because I'd foolishly drunk the rest of the cider and didn't want to waste another can!). <br /> <br />Same icky lumpy mess. Now at this point I should specify that as an impoverished student I don't have a fancy mixer: I beat by hand. And I finally realised that the mix wasn't splitting: it was tiny tiny lumps of cream cheese that I just couldn't beat out. So off I went (and it's 23:00 BST here in the UK!) to borrow a mixer. And after beating the hell out of my lumpy bowl of sugary cream cheese.... ta da! Frosting! Kind of wish I'd opened the perry now but never mind, there's always a next time. <br /> <br />This will be a staple chocolate cake now I think... But maybe I'll leave the frosting until I own a mixer!
Melissa B. February 4, 2018
Can you buy pre-whipped cream cheese (here, it’s in tubs) at the market? This could help, although it’s a bit more expensive. It’s pre-fluffed and lump free. A good compromise for a bit more money if you don’t have or don’t want to drag out a mixer.
Shalini March 17, 2012
This cake recipe really reminds me of Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guiness cake, which is one of our family's favourites ( However I like your idea for a pear cider frosting, delicious!
Author Comment
arielleclementine March 17, 2012
I agree that the cakes look similar, but my chocolate cake is actually an adaptation of this recipe: I streamlined it and played with the ratios of beer and chocolate to make it a more boozy cake. I did not know about Nigella's cake when I wrote this recipe. I frosted it in the easiest way possible (top only) because I wanted an easy weeknight cake, without having to do any fussy decorating, or worrying about crumbs getting into the frosting. I think if you compare any chocolate stout cake to any other, you're likely to see a pretty similar ingredient list.
Saccharine January 3, 2012
Just made one with leftover cream cheese frosting and Lager beer from new year, it's delicious! Had a big piece and I think I have to postpone my diet plan till tommorow:P <br />Thanks for the recipe!
Andy January 2, 2012
I live in Iowa City; the home of the University of Iowa. Go Hawks! The team colors are black and gold. I made this cake for a fall football tailgate party and it was delicious. Super moist. Let's post more black and gold food, folks!
cookinbklyn January 2, 2012
Question, is it 1 egg or 2? The ingredient list says 1, but in the directions below it it is plural (eggs).
Author Comment
arielleclementine January 2, 2012
sorry for the typo! it's just one egg.