Irish Stout Shamrock Cake with mint white chocolate ganache

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

This is my go-to, this time every year. This chocolate, coffee and beer combo always results in a delicious, moist chocolate cake that is just to die for. Usually, I will make this into cupcakes and top it with the ganache and some green sprinkles. For you guys, though, I thought it would be more fun to make it a specialty shamrock cake.

This is a slightly tweaked Martha Stewart recipe that I fell in love with two years ago. It is always amazing and the mint icing is the perfect complement.

For the cake, you will need:20170316_171612

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ cup Irish stout beer (I like Killian’s)
¼ cup brewed coffee
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup softened butter (that’s 2 sticks)
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs

For the ganache, you will need:20170316_161245

16 oz white chocolate chips
1 ½ cup heavy cream
½ cup fresh chopped mint leaves

You can also use sprinkles or food coloring. Today I’m going with the latter.

I, personally, don’t think it matters whether you make the cake or the ganache first. Keep in mind, though, before you decorate, the cake will need to cool and the ganache will need to chill.

Ganache is great because you don’t have to melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Heat the cream with the mint and take it off the burner as soon as it starts to boil.20170316_162838 Let it steep for 5 minutes, and then strain it over the chocolate. Now let that sit for five more minutes and the chocolate should melt. Whisk it up until it’s silky-smooth and toss it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Moving on to the cake!

Now, some of you may wonder why recipes always tell you to mix certain ingredients separately, and then add the mixtures together after that. I was just like you once, and from my own experiences, it doesn’t technically make a difference, as long as everything ends up in the same, smooth batter. The difference I have noticed, is that it’s a lot easier to get that smooth batter if things are mixed in a certain order. For example, mixing the butter and sugar separately, creates that delicious sugary moon sand concoction that is a lot easier to mix into the batter than clumps of butter alone.

With that said, this recipe likes a bit of extra work when it comes to mixing. You can go ahead and mix your flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in one bowl20170316_172552 and your stout, coffee, and vanilla in another bowl.20170316_172933 In a third bowl (yes… a THIRD bowl) do that butter and sugar thing I was talking about. Make sure this bowl is BIG, because all the other stuff will end up in this one by the time we’re finished.20170316_173541 Then, add the eggs and beat them in.20170316_173654

Now for the tricky part. We’re going to mix in the wet and dry ingredients alternately. Add 1/3 of the dry and mix. Then add half the wet and mix. Another 1/3 of the dry, mix, the other half of the wet, mix, and the rest of the dry. Mix.

To reiterate, that’s dry, wet, dry, wet, dry, mixing every time.

Once everything is mixed in and your batter is smooth, pour it into your parchment-lined cake pan.20170316_174524
To line the pan, trace the bottom of the pan onto some parchment paper and cut out the shape. You can use a little butter to stick the parchment to the inside of the pan. You can also cut a strip to line the sides, or just grease the sides with butter and dust that with flour.

Toothpicks ready!

If you’re making these into cupcakes, you will want to bake them at 350°F for 18-22 minutes. Since I’m doing a cake, I will start checking it after about half an hour.20170316_182337

when your cake is done, go ahead and get the ganache out of the fridge. Whip it up with an electric mixer until it’s nice and fluffy, then put it back in until you’re ready to use it.20170316_194039

Cover the top of one cake with ganache and stack the other on top. Now it’s time for the fun part. I carved my cake to look like a shamrock, but you can do whatever shape you want. sham

Once your cake is carved, you MUST crumb coat it! 20170316_200604The crumb coat is not pretty. It’s not supposed to be. It traps all the crumbs in this layer, so that the next layer stays crumb free. Get your crumb coat on and put it back in the fridge to set.

Next is your outer layer of icing. This is the part people will actually see. Ice it up and decorate however you want!20170316_223430

Now go show off your cake to your friends! (Or in my case, coworkers.)

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