I love these Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes so very much! I have made them thrice and felt that they should be translated into cake form, so I came up with this honking beauty. (Honk if you love molecules!)
I baked the stout-laden batter (swoon) into two 9″ layers and torted each one into two layers, for a total of four layers. This means there are three thick layers of Bailey’s-spiked Ganache lurking inside of this cake. I can’t begin to extoll the virtues of this ganache; suffice to say that it is so good I could happily eat it straight out of the bowl. All of it. (Here is where I begin to look slightly deranged by chocolate lust.) I worried that the texture of the cake would not be as moist or as flavourful as with the cupcakes, but I’m quite good at being silly like that. The cake is every bit as delectably moist, tender, and rife with flavour as the original cupcakes. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s the exact same batter! Highly recommended for use in this recipe is Murphy’s Irish Stout instead of Guinness (that is, if you can even find Murphy’s anywhere), as it has a much more complex, mellow flavour. Guinness intentionally sours a percentage of its stout in order to replicate the taste of stout of yesteryear, when the wood casks in which it was stored caused the stout to sour.
Though I kept the ganache recipe as-is, I doubled the icing recipe, ensuring that the ratio of ganache and icing to cake would be higher here than with the cupcakes, which soothes the savage, icing-hungry beast inside of me. If you would prefer to have a thin layer of icing rather than a very thick one, then feel free to keep the icing recipe in its original proportions. This isn’t snark; some people truly do prefer very little icing on their cake. I’ll never be able to understand this worldview, but I respect its existence. Ah, to double or not to double? Keep in mind the icing has Bailey’s in it, so more icing means more Bailey’s! (Yay!)
I also think that cake slices are easier to eat than cupcakes – yes, I truly do – because a saucer and a fork work wonders, whereas precariously balancing a cupcake in my hand never seems to turn out well for me. Many’s the time I’ve heard that devastating plop!, and known without looking that the icing just fell off my cupcake.
Make this wet dream of a cake, and make it whenever the hell you feel like it, because as the Irish already know, booze is fabulous all year round!
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Irish Car Bomb Cake
For the ganache:
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 TBS butter
2 tsp – 2 TBS Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur (enough for your liking; you can use more or less as you wish)
For the cake:
1 cup stout*
16 TBS unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
For the buttercream (can be doubled if desired):
4 sticks butter, at room temperature (I use salted butter)
4 – 6 TBS Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur (use more Bailey’s if you wish)
6 cups powdered sugar
2 – 4 TBS heavy cream, or enough to achieve desired icing consistency
sprinkles or chopped chocolate for garnish (optional)
For the ganache:
Place chocolate and butter in a medium heat-proof bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil and pour immediately over chocolate and butter; let stand 2 – 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth and totally blended. Whisk in Bailey’s, starting with a small amount and adding more to taste. Set aside to cool to room temperature and thicken to icing, or piping, consistency. (This typically takes several hours for me.)
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9″ cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper; spray parchment paper.
Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream just to blend. Add the stout and butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 5 – 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the buttercream:
Place softened butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. You really want to beat the heck out of the butter for a creamy buttercream! Add 4 TBS Bailey’s and beat until blended with the butter (this took several minutes for me). Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Add 2 TBS of heavy cream and another TBS of Bailey’s and beat until blended. If necessary, add more cream and / or Bailey’s until the consistency is as desired and the Bailey’s flavour is strong enough for your tastes.
Once the ganache has firmed enough to be piped, torte each cake layer into two layers, for a total of four layers. Place one layer, cut side up, on a cake circle. Spread with 1/3 of ganache. Place a second cake layer, cut side down, atop the ganache and spread with 1/2 of remaining ganache. Place a third cake layer, cut side up, atop ganache and spread with the final 1/3 of ganache. Top with last cake layer, cut side down. Generously ice top and sides of cake. Place a portion of the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice, or into a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off (remember to cut the corner after filling the bag), and pipe decorations onto the cake. Garnish with chopped chocolate, green sprinkles, tiny faeries – whatever you fancy!
*I always use Murphy’s rather than Guinness, because its flavour is less sour. You see, Guinness intentionally sours a percentage (I think it’s 3%) of each batch in order to mimic the taste of its brew from centuries past, when storage in wooden casks would sour the stout to a degree. Murphy’s is less well known than Guinness, but I think it has a deeper taste and is more nuanced. Draught Murphy’s is pretty incredible.
Source: Batter, ganache, and icing from Annie’s Eats; cake format was my own idea