This cake came out of necessity for me…the necessity to make dessert Irish for St. Patrick’s Day. If we are gonna celebrate an Irishmen who drove fake snakes away, we might as well do it with beer, whiskey and cake.
The Bailey’s cake is rich and chocolaty and the Guinness caramel has a wonderful malty, coffee flavor that compliments the Irish (coffee) cream. The caramel is actually my favorite part, I would eat it on just about anything. Folding it into a milk chocolate ganache lends a sweeter flavor and a light color…dark chocolate is bitter and, I think, the caramel is bitter enough so this is a good balance. —Katie Walsh Beck
one double layer eight in cake
For the Bailey's Cake
1 ¾ cups
flour, plus more for pans
dark cocoa powder
Bailey’s Irish Cream
large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons
pure vanilla extract
freshly brewed hot coffee
For the stout caramel and milk chocolate ganache
stick of butter (unsalted, though if you are using salted butter eliminate the salt below)
½ teaspoon of sea salt
milk chocolate (I used Hershey bars) broken up
Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.
Into the bowl of an electric mixer place the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to properly incorporate all of the batter together. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
To make the caramel, place sugar and Guinness in a heavy bottom saucepan (I use all-clan pans for caramel, if you don’t use a heavy duty pan, your caramel will burn onto the bottom of the pan, I know this from experience) on high heat. Stir ONLY until sugar is dissolved, then LEAVE IT ALONE! I mean this. Don’t touch it, even though you will want to stir it, because everything in your baking mind tells you not to leave it. If you stir it, even once, the sugar will crystalize and it will be done for, and the mess is a bitch to clean up. Cook this until it reaches 350 on a candy thermometer and is a dark, reddish brown color. It won’t smell exactly like regular caramel sugar (if you have made it before) and that ok, because the malt adds a different flavor and you want that.
Immediately take off the heat and add the butter. It will bubble up like you’re in a science lab. Gently whisk until the butter is melted and then add the cream, which will also bubble up, and whisk until smooth and combined. Whisk in your salt at the end and let it cool completely before using.
To make the chocolate ganache, and this couldn’t be simpler, bring the cream to a simmer and break up the chocolate into a small bowl. Pour the cream over the milk chocolate and whisk until completely combined. Let this cool, I put it in the fridge and check until it has thicken and it cold.
When the ganache is cooled place it in a mixing bowl and beat on high with the whisk attachment until the mixture is stiff and fluffy, like a frosting. Beating with the whisk attachment incorporates air which make the frosting lighter and increases the volume. Slowly add the caramel, roughly half of what you have made and continue to beat until incorporated and thick.
Place one layer of cake on a plate or board and top with frosting. Drizzle this with a little of the remaining caramel and place the second layer on top. Frost the top and drizzle with caramel and chocolate shavings if you like. I keep this cool as the ganache is not super sturdy, just take out about 30 minutes before eating.