Friday, July 16, 2010

Cooking with Michigan Beer:

Arcadia's Cocoa Loco Chocolate Cake

I started a "Cooking with Michigan Beer" section because not enough people (myself included) cook with beer on a regular basis. You see beer battered fish on many restaurant menus or Guinness stew on St. Patrick's Day, but other than that, it seems like most people don't think of beer as an ingredient, or are just too afraid to use it in their recipes. . .but people use wine in their cooking all the time. When you stop and think about it, it just makes sense to cook with beer. Beer has more in common with a lot of the food we eat than wine does; it contains grain (barley), herbs (hops), water, and yeast, where wine is mainly just some fermented grapes. Adding beer to a recipe can really enhance particular flavors of the ingredients, help blend the flavors of the dish, or just add that little zing that a meal might be lacking.

For my first culinary experiment, I cheated a little and looked to a fellow beer-blogger's site at for some inspiration and started with a good old fashioned chocolate cake with a slight twist. Since I already had the basic recipe in front of me, the more challenging part, of course, was picking out the perfect beer. I too, have added Guinness to brownies before, and although I think it's a decent beer, I agree that it's too thin-bodied and mild to add enough flavor to make it worthwhile in most recipes. With this in mind, I knew I'd need to pick out a beer that was bold enough to stand out in my cake without overpowering it. I narrowed it down to two contenders: Arcadia's Cocoa Loco vs. Bell's Double Cream Stout. I couldn't make a decision at the store, so I had to buy both and do a taste test. Poor me, but somebody had to do it!

The Double Cream Stout has quite a bit of tang to it, and since the recipe already calls for sour cream (also tangy), I feared my end product might end up tasting like it had spoiled: not exactly the flavor I was going for. The moment I smelled and tasted Arcadia's Cocoa Loco, I knew it would be perfect for this recipe. It's huge on the cocoa in the scent, but also has a really warm roasted malt scent, quite a bit of molasses, and a bit of alcohol to it. It's more of a medium bodied beer with a very nice creamy quality that compliments the very rich cocoa flavor; a flavor which has both bitter and dark characteristics that reminded me a lot of baking cocoa. It's a flavor that makes it exactly the kind of beer that you want to dump into your cake batter.

Now that we have a beer, let's get baking. Here's what you'll need:

1 cup of Arcadia's Cocoa Loco
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (don't skimp on quality here, the
ganache will thank you)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Cake prep:
1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray a bundt pan well; make sure you get in all of the nooks and crannies.
2) Bring 1 cup Cocoa Loco and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
3) Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend.
4) Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
5) Add Cocoa Loco-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add it slowly at first in case it the liquid mixture is still hot. You don't want it to scramble the eggs
6) Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
7) Pour batter into prepared pan.

A little photographic evidence that I actually made a cake.

8) Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Pass the time however you see fit. I did a beautiful song and dance for Seth to help him think while he was working on a blog entry.

9) Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto rack for drizzling ganache.


For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake.

I served it with some whipped heavy cream on top to add a little fresh contrast. This cake is no joke. It's moist, chocolaty, and best when still slightly warm from the oven. The Cocoa Loco adds such an incredible deep richness, that even Seth, who doesn't really like cake (he's a pie man to the core) loved it and wants me to make it again!



Seth said...

We didn't intend for this post to be a blatant Ove Glove commercial, but look at how easily she weilds that hot bundt pan!

Other Seth said...

That thing looks ridiculously tasty. I would eat the whole thing and suffer the impending hours of stomach pain without hesitation.

Bowlf said...

Teach me your beautiful song.

Schmurr said...

Bowlf, she will only teach it to you if you become a follower. I already asked. :(

eric said...

So delicious... Not at all like cat feces.

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