How do you feel about stout beer? Personally I'm so so on it for drinking, but as a cake ingredient, I consider it second to none.
The fact is that stout beer LOVES chocolate, and they work well together in cake and ganache, both of which this recipe features. But wait, there's more.
This standout flourless chocolate cake contains not one but two unexpected ingredients. The first is stout beer, which is slowly simmered with sugar until it reduces into a thickened, slightly caramelized liquid, which imparts a caramelly, malty, rich flavor to the cake without being too boozy. The second is olive oil, which adds a wonderful sweet and nutty flavor to the cake, complementing the unique flavor of the beer reduction.
Both of the secret ingredients act in tandem to bring out the flavor of the cake’s not-so-secret ingredient: plenty of 70 percent bittersweet chocolate, which is used both in the batter and in the smooth ganache topping. Garnished with toasted pecan halves, the overall flavor of the cake is fascinatingly complex, with tones of caramel, smoke, cocoa, nut, and an almost fruit-like sweet aftertaste.
Olive Oil Stout Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Yield: one 9-inch cake
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes, plus cooling
For the cake
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle stout beer
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 bars (3.5 ounces each) 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
For the topping
- 1 bar (3.5 ounces) 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ¾ cup toasted pecan halves, for garnish
- Position two racks in the middle of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9-inch springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. If you have any doubts at all about how airtight your springform pan is, line the outside of the pan with several layers of tightly wrapped foil.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the beer and light brown sugar. Heat on medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a low boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Let the mixture simmer until it has reduced to about 8 ounces worth of liquid, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the salt. Set the mixture to the side for the moment.
- In a large, heatproof bowl set atop a saucepan of simmering water, melt together the olive oil and the chocolate over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan and transfer to a work surface. Pour the beer mixture into the melted chocolate mixture, stirring to combine.
- Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, making sure that there are no streaks of yolk in the mixture before adding the next.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared pan.
- Fill a large roasting pan half full of water. Place this pan on the lower oven rack; place the cake on the upper rack.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake has just the slightest jiggle in the middle. Remove from the oven, and let cool completely (don’t forget to remove the pan of water, too).
- Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the cake before removing the springform sides.
- Make the ganache. Place the chopped chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl.
- Pour the whipping cream into a medium saucepan; keep the rest in the refrigerator. Heat over medium heat until the mixture reaches a simmer. Remove from heat, and pour over the chocolate. Stir until creamy and combined. Let cool slightly, and then spread over the cake, letting the chocolate drip over the sides just a little.
Garnish the top of the cake with the toasted pecans. Keep leftovers, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but serve the cake at room temperature.