How To Make Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — Baking Lessons from The Kitchn

Chocolate Guinness cake isn’t your everyday chocolate cake. Nope, this cake is deep in size and flavor, thanks in no small part to the magic of stout beer, dark cocoa, and sour cream. The resulting cake is super moist and fudgy with an almost velvet-like texture that most cocoa cakes can’t beat.

Because this is a rather bold chocolate cake, it’s topped with sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. Just pile it on top in big puffy swirls. Then take a step back and gaze at the beauty you just created. It looks like a fine pour of a pint of Guinness, doesn’t it? Good. That’s the idea.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Beer, Dark Cocoa & Sour Cream: An Extraordinary Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is special. From its black sheen to its velvety texture, one bite and you’ll know right away it’s different from the pack. The creamy, malty richness of Guinness; a deep, dark chocolate; and sharp sour cream deserve the credit.

This recipe calls for extra-dark cocoa powder. Hershey’s has a special dark cocoa powder that we like, but you can find even darker versions from places like King Arthur Flour. The cocoa powder is bloomed in Guinness Extra Stout, making for an extra-dark, deeply chocolatey cake.

With all that intensity coming from the stout and the chocolate, this cake could easily become too rich and even a little acidic. A full-fat sour cream swoops in, bringing with it a bright, tangy flavor while helping to soften the crumb.

About Stout Beers

Stout beers are a specific type of porter beer brewed with roasted malt or roasted barley. These dark, strong-bodied brews are most noted for their caramel notes and belly-filling qualities. Super-traditional Guinness Extra Stout is called for here, but I’ve also made this cake with an oatmeal porter and a coffee stout with much success. Choose a rich dark beer, with a sweet, rather than sour, profile.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Key Steps for Chocolate Guinness Cake

Use a deep cake pan.

This cake makes a lot of relatively thin batter. A shallow nine-inch cake pan won’t hold it. You’ll need a pan that is at least three inches deep; bakery-style aluminum cake pans are best for this cake. A springform pan with a tight sealing bottom can be used too. Grease the pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a parchment round to guarantee a stick-free cake.

Bloom the cocoa in the beer.

Blooming is the technique of adding dry cocoa powder to warm liquid and letting it sit for a few minutes before making a baked good with the mixture. This step brings out all of the cocoa’s chocolate flavor and makes for a more chocolatey cake without any actual chocolate.

Learn more: Why (and When) It’s Important to Bloom Cocoa Powder

Get out your large spatula.

Chocolate Guinness cake uses the quick-bread mixing method. Mix the bloomed beer-cocoa mixture with eggs and sour cream, then add to the dry ingredients. Two large mixing bowls and a large spatula are all that’s required for mixing. We’re going with this method because it prevents the cake from being overmixed. You’ll find that the batter will be quite thin going into the cake pan.

Prepare for a long baking time.

This cake takes a minimum of 50 minutes to bake at 350°F. You can test for doneness by pressing gingerly on the center of the cake. It’s done when it springs right back from your touch. Of course you can always test doneness with a skewer; it will come out clean and crumb-free when the cake is done.

Let it cool properly.

Cool the finished cake on a wire cooling rack for about 30 minutes before removing it from the cake pan. Then continue to cool the cake for another 30 minutes to one hour before frosting.

Frosting Chocolate Guinness Cake

Cool, creamy cream cheese frosting is the ideal frosting for chocolate Guinness cake. Some recipe call for an Irish cream frosting, but I find it overpowers the chocolate cake. Instead, cream cheese frosting has just the right amount of tangy sweetness to balance the richness of the chocolate and stout flavors.

Chocolate Guinness is frosted to look like a pint of stout with foam on top. Add the frosting on top of the cooled cake and spread it just to the edges of the cake to create this effect.

Heat the oven and prepare a cake pan. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan that is 3 inches deep with cooking spray. You can also line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper for extra insurance if you’d like.

How To Make Chocolate Guinness Cake

Serves 12 to 15

What You Need


  • Cooking spray

  • 2

    sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    Guinness stout

  • 3/4 cup

    extra-dark unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 cup

    sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon


  • For the frosting:
  • 1

    stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 4 ounces

    cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 2 cups

    powdered sugar, divided


  1. Heat the oven and prepare a cake pan. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan that is 3 inches deep with cooking spray. You can also line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper for extra insurance if you’d like.

  2. Heat the butter and stout. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the Guinness and bring to a simmer.

  3. Bloom the cocoa in the warm butter-beer. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

  4. Beat the eggs and sour cream. Place the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to to combine.

  5. Add the cocoa-beer mixture to the egg mixture. Add the cooled cocoa mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until smooth.

  6. Add the dry ingredients. Add the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well-combined.

  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Pour the batter (it will be quite thin) into the prepared cake pan. The pan will be quite full.

  8. Bake the cake. Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the middle or a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.

  9. Cool the cake. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool on the wire rack for 30 minutes to 1 hour more before frosting.

Make the frosting:

  1. Beat the butter. Place the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until lightened in texture and smooth, about 1 minute.

  2. Add the cream cheese. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium speed until homogenous and light, about 3 minutes.

  3. Gradually add the sugar. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, return to medium speed, and beat until incorporated. Repeat scraping and beating in the remaining powdered sugar in 3 to 4 more batches.

  4. Beat again. Beat the frosting again on medium speed until smooth and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Frost the cake and serve. Chocolate Guinness cake should be frosted to look like a pint of stout with foam on top. Pour the frosting on top of the cooled cake and spread it just to the edge of the cake but not over the sides. Slice and serve immediately, if desired, or let sit at room temperature for up to 1 hour before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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