Thursday, August 19, 2010

Now You See It, Now You Don't

You know you've got a winning cake when all that's left at the end of the evening is an empty caddy. I admit - this particular recipe was purely intended to fuel my vanity. In other words, I knew this was going to be a cake that no one could resist. I invested a great amount of time and energy into the groundwork behind this recipe, and was debating between several finds. One particular gem was a recipe for Guiness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting. Were decadence to be given a name, this would be it. Unfortunately, I didn't have the patience for cupcakes and while this recipe would have created a beautiful layer cake, the concept of "car bomb cupcakes" is just too good to be true (spolier alert!). 
Yet I wasn't about to walk away from the opportunity to use Bailey's, so I had to find a recipe that could live up to the original. I visited my "Desserts to Try" folder and found the perfect match: chocolate sour cream cake. The original recipe calls for a peanut butter frosting that is then coated in a glossy chocolate ganache, but Bailey's cream cheese frosting made for a beautiful pairing. At some point I will need to revisit the two recipes in their original form, but the disappearance of my hybrid recipe leads me to believe that my decision was well-received.

So this cake - what makes it special? Adding sour cream to cake batter will guarantee a dense, moist texture. The additional fat from the sour cream also helps maintain said moisture longer than your conventional butter and eggs cake. Word of caution: upon adding the distilled white vinegar, the batter will began to bubble - this is NOT a bad sign. It is merely the acidity of the vinegar interacting with the sour cream. 

Now how about that frosting - any cake would have sufficed, because this frosting stole the show. I doubled the original recipe to accommodate the 3 layers of cake. I acknowledge that 2 nips of Bailey's (each 1/4 cup)  is a substantial amount, but here is a flavor that no baker can truly replicate. Feel free to use only 1 nip if preferred, because unlike the Chocolate Stout Cake or Bourbon Pumpkin Pie of older posts, the alcohol does not have the opportunity to "bake out" of this recipe. 

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting
Adapted from Nook & Pantry and Smitten Kitchen
Serves 16

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process (I just used regular)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or soybean (Canola is a safe bet)
  • 1 cup sour cream (NOT low-fat)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar (more if needed)
  • 2 nips (1/2 cup) of Bailey’s Irish Cream (trust me!)

For Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. 

For Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, add the cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the Bailey’s, more or less depending on how boozey you want the frosting, and beat until completely incorporated into the frosting.

For Assembly: Place one cake layer, flat side up, onto large place/cake caddy. Spread 1/3 cup of Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting evenly across surface, then top and repeate with a second layer of cake. The cake's texture will create a lot of crumbs, so create a crumb coating accordingly: frost the cake with just under half of the frosting, then refrigerate it for 15 – 20 minutes (to allow the frosting to set). Remove from the fridge and spread the remaining frosting over and on the sides of the cake. Chill until serving, to allow the frosting more time to set. 

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