Tag Archives: chocolate cake

Chocolate Stout Cake!

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Delicious chocolate cake fragranced and flavoured with Guinness, and whipped cream with Bailey’s Irish Cream and pure maple syrup. What a great dessert combination!

This weekend I decided to make a recipe that’s been sitting in my “to make” recipe folder for almost a year. (I keep meaning to make it around St. Patrick’s Day—and assumedly as the dessert for a supper of Guinness-based beef stew with loads of root vegetables and a nice round of freshly baked soda bread to round out the meal.) But for whatever reason, it never seems to come together and the recipe’s never got used.

It should be said though that despite it taking me ages to get around to putting this cake together, it is nevertheless precisely the kind of homemade cake recipe that really appeals to me. I knew it would produce a rich and flavourful cake since it has two of my favourite things to indulge in as its foundation: rich chocolate and wonderfully, flavourfully complex dark ale. (Well, stout, actually.) The recipe balances the two ingredients nicely so that they aren’t competing with one another or overwhelming the other in the cake’s flavour profile, but rather, they work together well and come together to produce an amazing dessert to follow a Sunday night supper.

The original cake recipe can be found at smittenkitchen.com, a popular cooking blog run by author, blogger, and home chef Deb Perelman. Perelman includes a recipe for a chocolate ganache that is flavoured with coffee and chocolate (something that sweetness notwithstanding would probably help draw out the underlying flavours of the Guinness beer). Ganache icing isn’t really my thing though, so when it came time to accompany the cake, I dusted the top of the cake with sifted powdered sugar and I made a flavoured whipped cream, too. For the whipped cream, I whipped a small container of whipping cream with two tablespoons each of Bailey’s Irish Cream and organic maple syrup (and a teaspoon of vanilla extract) to give the cake some added sweetness and flavour complexity.

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Ganache is great, but powdered sugar and/or fresh whipped cream will always be my favourite.

The cake is fairly easy to throw together (and with minimal dishes getting dirtied in the process—a plus for Sunday night supper that yields enough leftovers to satisfy an average-sized family into the start of the work week). As long as you keep an eye on the saucepan in which you simmer (but never boil) your Guinness and butter mixture, it’s pretty hard to botch this recipe. Make sure to properly grease your bundt pan, and allow the cake to cool entirely while still set in the pan, and there should be no trouble when it comes time to turn the cake out onto a wire rack or serving plate.

The cake itself is not overly dense, in fact, it has a crumb that is just the right texture to appropriately reflect the denseness of Guinness stout, but still serve as a sweet Sunday night treat. It’s not too crumbly either, and maintains its distinctive bundt-pan shape (and there are for sure some elaborate bundt pan molds out there). Still, I think my favourite thing about this cake (besides its taste), is that while the cake bakes (for a mere 35 minutes), it will fill the entire house with the most amazing and homey smell, so don’t be surprised if family members drift into the kitchen to see what’s going on, and what they’ve got to look forward to indulging in later in the evening.

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Found Cake!

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What do you mean, ‘Cake has nothing to do with dark fantasy entertainment media’?

On November 18, Dragon Age: Inquisition will be released in North America, and I am incredibly excited. I’ve been a fan of Edmonton-based (and now Electronic Arts-owned) game developer BioWare for a while now, and Inquisition is the latest installment to their action-adventure RPG Dragon Age video game series. Glowing reviews of the game are already hitting major game commentary websites and online publications, but for the most part, I’ve been pretty selective about which ones I’ll read. (I’m trying to avoid as many spoilers as possible, you know.) Still, finding out that the game is scoring so well among critics makes for a serious vote of confidence about how good this game is going to be.

Critics by-and-large have a lot of good things to say about the game so far in terms of its mechanics, player experience, and narrative value and scope. And that’s good to hear, considering that I’ve been looking forward to this game for over a year, and have had my copy pre-ordered since about the middle of last summer. It’s also good to hear that BioWare is improving their track record with Inquisition, as a lot of people (including myself) were pretty disappointed with the game’s predecessor in the series, Dragon Age II. A lot of the reviewers are calling Inquisition the spiritual (if not direct) sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, the game that started the series off. A lot of the polished gameplay, rich narrative intricacies, and elements of player experience that people loved about Origins were noticeably absent in Dragon Age II, and it’s heartening to hear that they’ve apparently been re-instated (in spades!) for Inquisition.

And that’s the sort of thing that’s got me thinking about the beginning of the Dragon Age series again, and revisiting some of my favourite story-related moments, including the silly throw-away gags that suffused and influenced the entire series’ feel. Even though Dragon Age’s installments are essentially based in the dark fantasy genre of story, there are still plenty of light-hearted moments in each game that are usually tongue-in-cheek, good-natured ribbing from the game writers and designers about the tropes characteristic to the genre of fantasy media—from its novels, to movies and video games.

In Dragon Age: Origins, one of these moments includes a specific party member, a Mabari hound (a type of very clever and boisterous war dog native to Origin’s setting and culture of Ferelden). Unlike other party member characters, the Mabari hound has the specific ability to bring unseen/off-screen items to the player character if asked. If the player were to bring the hound character with them while adventuring away from the safe zone of the party’s camp, the hound can be selected and asked if it can find anything interesting in the player’s immediate surroundings. The hound’s searches won’t always yield results, but there are a number of scripted outcomes to carrying out this action. Often the hound will return to the player with different item drops of either equipment, weapons, first-aid components, story-related objects, or ridiculous jokey items for the player to mull over (and wonder exactly how little sleep and how much coffee the story writers were running on when they wrote this particular interaction).

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BioWare makes a point of putting its players in tough situations, and making them face terrible choices. You might be asked to save the world from unholy, otherwordly monsters erupting from deep within the earth, or save the world from unholy, otherworldly monsters spilling out of a day-glo green hole in the sky (and then you might even slay a few dragons while taking a break from saving the world from unholy, otherworldly underground- and sky-monsters), but what kind of person turns down an entire cake your trusty war dog has dragged out from god-only-knows-where? Not my kind of hero, that’s who!

Eventually, after the player has asked the Mabari hound to have a look around, the dog will cheerfully return with a slightly soggy piece of cake that it found apparently just lying around and waiting to be discovered in some undisclosed location nearby. The hound will present the cake to the player with all the remarkably well computer-imaged and -animated mimicry of a dog’s natural enthusiasm, and then it’s up the player whether the slightly chewed (and slightly dog-slobbery) gift of cake will be accepted or not. (Personally, I always pick the dialogue option that shows the player is blatantly grossed out by the concept of “found cake” delivered via canine, but which still tells the dog he is a good boy, yes he is!)

And since I’ve pretty well got a one-track mind fixated on everything Dragon Age related until the release date of Inquisition, I thought that for this week’s wrap up of this blog, I would end with a recipe for a treat that’s rather specifically related to the game franchise: the Mabari hound’s found cake. (But don’t worry, the doggy delivery service and unknown circumstances of the cake’s existence and arrival is not at all included, so it’s totally safe to make, eat, and enjoy.)

A quick internet search for a recipe related to “found cake”, led me to Gourmet Gaming’s website and 2012 entry about preparing a Dragon Age: Origins inspired and styled cake. I made a few adjustments to Gourmet Gaming’s base recipe—essentially by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of cayenne to the cake batter for a more intricate chocolate flavour profile, and by frosting the cake with entirely too much whipped cream. As a general note about this cake: due to the sheer amount of dairy layered on it, I don’t think the cake would keep for very long (even in the fridge), so it’s probably best that you and your family and friends (or favourite adventuring party members) polish the thing off within a day or two of putting it together.

However, I bet the resulting sugar rush is sure to help you speed through the last few remaining days until Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out!

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Okay, alright! I uh… I may have overdone it a little with the whipped cream here. (But at least there’s no dog slobber.)

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