A rich chocolate cake infused with Guinness paired with a Baileys dark chocolate ganache and a Baileys buttercream. This Baileys & Guinness Cake is the perfect grown-up treat.
You know, for someone who doesn’t really drink, I have more than my fair share of boozy desserts. I love a good, sweet cocktail, but you’ll never catch me with a glass of wine or a beer. My palette just prefers sweet drinks (surprised??) and I generally don’t like the taste of alcohol. That being said, the flavour of many alcoholic beverages is delicious and lends itself so well to baked goods!
Baileys flavoured desserts are not new to me. In fact, I think they are far too common on this blog (not that that’s a bad thing). Guinness though — I think this might be the first time I’ve ever tried it. So what better way to try it than in cake form, right?? I actually took a sip of it after using what I needed in the cake… I think I’ll stick with the boozy desserts.
This Baileys & Guinness Cake is a long time coming. I actually planned to make it last year for St. Paddy’s Day but never got around to it and made a Mint Chocolate Chip Cake instead. Better late than never though, right??
To make the Guinness Cake, I took my favourite Chocolate Cake recipe and simply swapped out the hot water for hot Guinness. The result worked perfectly. I also swapped out some of the Dutch-process cocoa powder for black cocoa to intensify the deep, dark color of the cake — trying to emulate the actual color of Guinness. If you don’t have black cocoa though, Dutch-processed or regular cocoa powder will work fine.
Most Guinness Cake recipes you’ll fine online pair the cake with a Baileys cream cheese frosting. While that sounds like a perfectly delicious combo, I wanted to do something a little different, so I made a Baileys dark chocolate ganache and Baileys Swiss meringue to go with the cake.
If you don’t want to make both types of frosting, you can do either/or, but see my tips below if you decide to do only one or the other. I like both in the cake both for a stunning color contrast and for flavour, but either one would be equally delicious on its own.
Something I should note is that this is actually my second version of this cake, because I tried and failed to do a pretty ombre frosting with the ganache and buttercream. I started with the ganache at the bottom and it totally solidified on the cold cake, which made it impossible to blend in a pretty way. I tried to do something more rustic to compensate, but it just didn’t work, so I redid the whole thing.
Flavour wise, the cake is delicious! Even for someone who doesn’t like beer, I’m a huge fan of this cake. You can taste the beer, but it’s almost more of an after-taste (to me anyhow) and it goes so well with the Baileys frostings.
If you’re a Baileys/Guinness fan or looking for something fun and unique for St. Paddy’s day, this cake is for you!
Tips for making this Baileys & Guinness Cake:
- Use the best quality chocolate you can find for the ganache, it makes a huge difference! I use Callebaut.
- If you like, you can skip the buttercream and just use the Baileys ganache between all the layers. The recipe makes enough for the whole cake.
- If you’d like to use the Baileys buttercream instead of ganache, double the buttercream recipe.
- The recipe as-is can be used in two 8″ pans instead of three 6″ pans.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, see my Flat Top Cakes post.
Baileys & Guinness Cake
Baileys Chocolate Ganache Frosting: (make in advance)
- 20 oz good quality dark chocolate chopped, not bakers chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
Chocolate Guinness Cake:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted
- 1/4 cup black cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup Guinness
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
Baileys Chocolate Ganache Frosting (make in advance):
- Place chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, Baileys, and butter. Cook over med heat, stirring often, until it just starts to simmer.
- Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit 5 minutes.
- Stir gently with a spatula until completely smooth. If needed, place over a double boiler and stir until all chocolate has melted.
- Place plastic wrap directly on top of chocolate ganache. Allow to thicken and set overnight.*
Chocolate Guinness Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F, grease three 6" round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line bottoms with parchment.
- Place flour, sugars, cocoas, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
- Place Guinness into a small saucepan and heat until just simmering.
- In a medium bowl whisk buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Temper this mixture with the heated Guinness -- pour hot Guinness into the bowl very slowly while whisking egg mixture constantly.
- Add wet ingredients to dry and mix on medium for 2-3 mins. Batter will be very thin.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out mostly clean. A total of 35-40mins.
- Cool 10 minutes in the pans then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Baileys Swiss Meringue:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.**
- Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot (160F) and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.
- Add Baileys and vanilla and whip until smooth.***
- Cut each layer of cake in half horizontally.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving dish. Top with about 1/2 cup buttercream, spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layers alternating buttercream with ganache. Frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat. Chill for at least 20mins until firm and set.****
- Frost the chilled cake with the remaining ganache. It will start to set against the cold cake.
- Using the remainder of the buttercream, do a rope border on the top using a Wilton 6B piping tip.
- Decorate bottom with chocolate flakes if desired.
** Ensure there is NO trace of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk is completely grease free or your meringue won't stiffen.
*** The buttercream may look like it's curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.
**** If the ganache is too thin or soft and the cake layers start to slide around a bit during assembly, you can place 3-4 bamboo skewers into the top of the cake as support. You'll need to trim the skewers to the proper height of the cake.