November?! Yes, November since I have given you any attention, little old food blog. What a pitiful shame. I wish I could chalk it up to having too many kids and not enough time. Or maybe being too busy with real estate. What if I had simply stopped cooking? Now there’s a good joke.
The truth is that Thanksgiving happened and I said to myself, “The world is overrun with pumpkin pie and stuffing posts, and I am simply overrun, so I am going to opt out of my blogging life for a bit.” Then Christmas happened, and, well . . . Christmas happened. We all know what that entails, so no need to expound there.” Any normal person would have been able to jump right back into the fray of things post haste, post Christmas, right? Maybe not so much. Or maybe I’m not as normal as I would like to delude myself into thinking I am. Because the truth is that since January I have slipped deeper and deeper into a total state of inertia. The kind of inertia that first pulls you down by your toes and you think, “Oh, I just need to take it easy and recharge for a day or two.” Then it seeps up to your waist and you think, ” This is ridiculous and I really need to shake it off – – – and delete Candy Crush Saga from my phone.” Finally, as it creeps up to your shoulders and you feel it reaching for your neck, you panic and start to think that maybe you will never snap out of it, that you are officially done being productive / creative / efficient / proficient, and any other “-ent” or “-ive” that you may use to describe your person. “Blah” no longer describes your state of being. “In a funk” seems like just a cheap excuse. Some people might label it “depressed”. Personally, I prefer to call it empty. I have just been battling emptiness for the past three months.
Believe me, it is not easy to type that. It’s even scary, if you must know. Does confessing emptiness indict my mental stability? Does it undermine my love of my husband and family? Does it undermine my faith and gratefulness? I choose to believe that it simply affirms my humanity, that it marks a not so glorious season, that it is through being stuck in my own crud that I can grow more compassionate toward others who are mucking their way through their crud.
So that is where I have been, dear blog. And little by little, I have regained perspective. Little by little, I have dug my way out of my little hole. Little by little, I have told myself that by being reduced to less that I can become more. And no, the cooking hasn’t stopped through this slump. After all, cooking is therapy to me. Keeping things real, seasonal and local, I have served my little brood more, potato, rutabaga, turnip, radish, and other root vegetable concoctions than I should probably admit. Those aren’t real sexy in their culinary appeal though, and I wanted to re-emerge on the blog with a little more pizazz. Plus, if you are like me, then maybe you find solace to your sadness in chocolate. Not to mention, that it’s St. Paddy’s tomorrow and any good recipe with Guiness is a sure winner this time of year. So with no further explanation, apologies, excuses, or ramblings, I give you THE BEST chocolate cake recipe of all time – Three Layer Chocolate Stout Cake.
First let me make the disclaimer that this makes a HUGE cake. I have found that cutting it in half (not the frosting, just the cake) still makes an ample three layer beauty. I have also made the whole recipe and been able to make a three layer cake AND about a dozen cupcakes which I have frozen and kept on hand for “emergencies”. And then there have been times when I have just gone for it, made the full recipe and had three large, luxurious layers of chocolate bliss. Whatever route you choose, start by buttering three 8″ round cake pans, then lining with parchment, and then buttering the parchment. Then heat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a saucepan, I then bring 2 cups of stout (I have only used Guiness) and 2 cups of butter to a simmer. To that, I whisk in the dutch process cocoa powder and then let that cool.
In a separate large bowl, I whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In yet another bowl, I beat together eggs and sour cream with an electric mixer.
I then add the stout/butter mixture to the egg/sour cream mixture and beat just until it is combined.
The flour mixture gets added in next. I beat it only briefly and then continue to fold in with a rubber spatula so as to not over mix.
All of this yumminess gets poured into my three prepared cake pans and baked for about 35 minutes. When they are done, I cool them in the pans for about 10 minutes and then turn them out onto racks and cool completely.
For the frosting, I recommend buying the best chocolate your budget allows for. Simply bring the whipping cream and chopped chocolate to a simmer in a saucepan, whisking constantly until it is melted. Then transfer to the fridge and allow to cool. Here is where you need to really keep an eye on the frosting and stir about every 10 minutes until it reaches frosting consistency. I have botched this part and had it turn to “fudge” on me. If that should happen to you, don’t panic. Just put the pan back over very low heat and stir constantly until it melts back down and start the whole refrigeration and stirring process over again. Once you have your frosting at the perfect consistency, frost between layers and over top and sides and . . . voila!
So this St. Paddy’s maybe forgo the Irish Soda Bread and whip up this treat instead. And if, like me, you are struggling with your own version of “emptiness”, I hope you remember that this is only a season and it too shall pass. In the meantime, a little chocolate cake never hurt anyone!
Here’s the complete recipe for Three Layer Chocolate Stout Cake,
~ adapted from epicurious.com.