baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2023 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

the search is over (you were with me all the while…)

Recipe: chocolate stout cake

If you were a child of the 70s and experienced your teen years in the 80s, then you will likely have (painful) recollections of that song from whence the title of this post is ripped. I was never a fan of Survivor (a generic 80s pop band for gen Xers – not the reality show, okay), but that song ran around my head when I took a taste of this chocolate cake. My search is indeed over for the perfect chocolate bundt cake, thanks (once again) to Deb.

But before we get to talking about chocolate cake, I hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. If you don’t observe Memorial Day, then I hope you had a grand weekend anyway. No barbecues or picnics here. We had some deliciously cool, overcast, and at times, rainy weather. We trail ran, hiked, and mountain biked in our local mountains this weekend – call it high-altitude training. Now it hurts to walk, but in the good way.

kaweah soaks up the last rays of sun on friday

boulder flatirons in clouds

the mountain lakes are thawing

pussy willows

flowers are starting to pop up in our yard

I’ve made a few chocolate bundt cakes in the past because I was looking for that ever-elusive perfect chocolate cake that is moist, chocolaty, slightly dense, rich, but not too sweet. Readers were kind enough to offer up suggestions and several pointed to Deb’s chocolate stout cake. Now I just know someone is going to comment, “You know, Deb didn’t *invent* that recipe – it comes from blah dee blah…” Yes, I know she didn’t invent that recipe because she clearly states from where she got the recipe in her post. But Smitten Kitchen is where I found the recipe with Deb’s notes (which I value) and so I am calling it Deb’s recipe. And if people have problems with that then… they can stick it perhaps they should consider a little vacation.

stout and butter

whisking in cocoa powder (dutch-process, please)

The curiosity: stout. I like stout in my chili, and so it wasn’t a reach for me to try a cake recipe calling for stout. I used a chocolate stout (dude at the liquor barn informed Jeremy that chocolate stout was on its way out – the new fad is now coffee stout) and since I am a non-beer type, I prefer to remain happily ignorant of these beer trends. The recipe comes together very easily and I have to admit to loving these one-pan deals, especially as summer nears.

yes! yes! sour cream and eggs!

whisking the eggs and sour cream mixture into the stout, butter, and cocoa

The sure sign: sour cream. My favorite bundt cakes all have sour cream in the recipes. Sour cream tends to give me far more reliable textures and results at this crazy elevation than those butter-heavy pound cakes which used to unceremoniously disembowel themselves in my oven. I say used to because I gave up on making those little buggers. Don’t worry, I’ll tackle them some day. One thing at a time. I did butter the bundt with a pastry brush (OCD, okay) and let it cool completely before inverting it from the pan based on Deb’s helpful notes. It released beautifully.

folding in the dry ingredients

pouring into the buttered bundt pan

The verdict: This is good cake, people. Best plain chocolate cake ever. I opted out of the ganache frosting and served some whipped cream with almond and vanilla accents alongside the cake. It’s a more delicate take on the chocolate, but I don’t doubt the cake is fan-freaking-tastic any way you serve it. With extra stout, I did attempt a second batch in mini loaf pans, but this time I used regular cocoa (i.e. NOT Dutch-process) and the flavor is considerably lacking compared to the Dutch-process cocoa version. I mean, it tastes fine, but I’m personally not going to sit around wasting my time on this Earth eating sub-par chocolate cake. USE DUTCH-PROCESS COCOA.

perfect chocolate bundt cake

less than perfect, but passable mini loaf

Chocolate Stout Cake
[print recipe]
from Smitten Kitchen who got it elsewhere and so on

1 cup (240g) stout (I used a chocolate stout)
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (85g) unsweetened cocoa powder (definitely Dutch-process)
2 cups (305g) flour
2 cups (450g) sugar
1 1/2 tsps (9g) baking soda (I use 1/2 tsp or 3g at 8500 ft. elevation)
3/4 tsp (5g) salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (150g) sour cream

Oven: 350°F. Butter a 12-cup bundt pan. Place the butter and the stout in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and the sour cream together until well-blended. Stir the egg and sour cream mixture into the stout mixture until just blended. Fold in the dry ingredients until combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack completely before releasing. Serve dusted with powdered sugar, or with a spoonful of whipped cream, or frosted with ganache.

whipped cream
1 cup (250g) heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp (12.5g) sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whip to medium peaks.

ganache glaze
6 oz. (170g) good semisweet chocolate chips
6 tbsps (95g) heavy cream
3/4 tsp (3g) instant coffee granules

Over a simmering water bath, gently stir chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee until smooth. Pour over the cake.

52 nibbles at “the search is over (you were with me all the while…)”

  1. Wendy says:

    It looks absolutely delicious & I’ve wanted to try it for awhile. Your picture looks mouthwateringly good, so I think I’m going to have to cave soon! Buuuuut… I have to ask if you’ve ever made chocolate beet cake. There are lots of recipes out there on the internet, but email me if you’d like my grandpa’s tried-and-true one–we used it for our wedding cake! :-)

  2. Pinky says:

    I’ve made this cake many a time with many a variation (the addition of amarena cherries is particularly nice). whenever you use cocoa that isn’t dutch process you need to have at least some baking powder. Or as you note, the flavor will not be as rich. Its a crazy chemical thing. I can’t remember the recommended ratio, but I can re-find it if you like. Currently though I have a dog sleeping on one of my arms.

  3. Manggy says:

    Oh yes, Dutch-processed all the way :) Interestingly, the root beer chocolate bundt I suggested also follows this general method of simmering the wet ingredients first. No sour cream though. Hmm, maybe that is really the key to a good, dense, moist chocolate cake– making some funky chocolate syrup beforehand :) Totally agree about the frosting (I actually felt it took away from the cake, weirdly).
    Oh, don’t even get me started on that song. My dad loves the lite rock station and that plays all. the. time!

  4. Kathy says:

    I love plain chocolate cake, not too sweet-just right. Pour the milk please!

  5. Rosa says:

    That moist cake is awesome and your pictures are amazing!



  6. Tartelette says:

    That looks like one cake which would not survive long with me around! Beautifully moist and dark! Yum!!
    The pictures from your excursion are just splendid!

  7. Ronine says:

    I of course have to honor your statement in the Times Online interview regarding how dogs (first and foremost!), CO scenery, chocolate and cake get your readers excited! And what’s more exciting than including them all in one post :D

    Kaweah, Colorado and cake all look inviting – while the first two are a bit far away, I will try out the stout cake. Our last visit to a micro-brewery in Copenhagen confirmed that coffee stout is also the new fad over here and I kind of wonder if the coffee taste would carry through…

  8. Macie says:

    Now I’m curious about how this will be with coffee stout, as well! I’m in Alabama and until recently we’ve had very strict beer laws that don’t allow 85% of beer to be sold in the state. They changed this law only last week, so now that we can actually GET stout I’ll have to try a stout-based chocolate cake! :)

  9. Debbie says:

    I’m going to make this one. I have made a chocolate stout cake before but not with dutch process cocoa. I love Deb’s site. I just made her raspberry cake and her recipes have never let me down…..

  10. Bridget says:

    I made this for my brother-in-law’s birthday a couple years ago. He’s a huge chocolate fan and loves Guinness, so it was fitting. I was worried that it wouldn’t be chocolately enough, since the only chocolate source is cocoa, but I was wrong. I thought it was great – rich, moist, delicious. And you’re right, it’s easy too.

  11. Fiona says:

    That looks so elegant – simple and plain. The kind of cake that can be delicious but take a backseat to the company. Also, I like that you could pair practically anything with it for extra flavor (like hazelnuts! Or caramel! Or whatever!). I might try Pinky’s idea since I love cherries so much.

  12. Mollie says:

    Beer and chocolate… mmmm mmm!

    And you know what a sucker I am for a sour cream batter. Looks amazing. I don’t have a bundt pan, but I think I should be making it soon. Now I wonder if a coffee stout (for those of use who are oh so trendy…. snort) would be good in this… kind of a mocha thing going on? Deb rocks… particularly for cake!

  13. dawn says:

    I always love those outdoor photos. I mean I love your food ones too, but the air and the scenary in the state you live are just breathtaking.

  14. brandy says:

    I make this into ‘carbombs’ mixing irish whiskey, cream cheese and powder sugar. you can pipe it in before baking. I like to use it as icing also. mmm!

  15. Patricia Scarpin says:

    That looks insanely and deliciously dark, Jen – so pretty!
    I once wrote to Deb to thank her for her magnificent pasta recipe – I’ve made it as ravioli, tagliatelle, you name it – and she answered me saying that it wasn’t her recipe, it was Gourmet’s (and yes, she stated that on her post). But to me it’s Deb’s pasta. Period – I would probably never see it on Gourmet and she pointed it to me, and that is what counts. :)

  16. Irene says:

    Yes! I loved this cake! Did you see, Deb also made it into cupcakes with Bailey’s buttercream. I made them. Oh. My. God.

  17. Allen says:

    Ooooh — dark and delicious. A delicious combination of beer and chocolate :-)

  18. Sil BsAs says:

    I hate the fact we don’t have such things like buttermilk, sour cream, half & half…
    I’m thinking of a kind of a slightly acid cream cheese as a substitution, what do you think?
    Yours looks perfect, I wanna try!!

  19. Miss Jane says:

    As usual, fantastic photos. (Loved that you started with Kaweah soaking up the sun!)
    I’m guessing that you used all-purpose flour in this? Just curious.
    Dense moist chocolate cake with whipped cream and raspberries . . . Yeah, that’s the ticket.
    I do like the idea of doing this as cupcakes with a Bailey’s Buttercream, too.

  20. cindy says:

    the photos from your weekend are fantastic! i’ve tried this cake too and is pretty dang good.

  21. kiwibird says:

    I LOVE this recipe, and about the only thing that makes it any better at all is cream cheese icing… It looks like the frothy head on stout and really adds to the flavor of the cake without being overly sweet. Mmmm, wish I wasn’t celiac or I’d be in the kitchen now :(

  22. Green says:

    Thank you very much for the recipe. And, Kaweah is so cute!


  23. Christina says:

    i definitely want to attempt this recipe. what brand of chocolate stout did you use?

  24. April says:

    Oh my!! This cake looks delish!

  25. Dianne says:

    Being a child of the 80’s, I got the song reference immediately, and the song is now stuck in my head. Thanks, Jen! Cake looks great, btw.

  26. Caitlin says:

    Oh wow. Sour cream and beer are two very good signs that it’s a very good cake. Love stout in my gingerbread too – so tasty! And as for the recipe ownership? I like your first idea – they can stick it… Well, I think we both know how that ends :)

  27. Y says:

    What a wonderful, moist looking cake. I made Claudia Fleming’s Guinness Stout Ginger Cake the other day. It doesn’t have any chocolate in it, but has molasses, so it looks somewhat similar to your cake. I too had a great weekend, but after seeing those pictures of yours, which truly personify what ‘the great outdoors’ means, I freely admit to being a little jealous. :)

  28. anna says:

    I just made chocolate stout (I just used Guinness) cupcakes for a friend’s birthday this past weekend! Apparently everyone had a craving for something incredibly chocolatey this past week. Yours looks lovely.

  29. Mrs Ergül says:

    I am thankful to own a silicon bundt pan! I will bookmark this!

  30. Amy says:

    I totally agree with you about sour cream, it does wonders in baked goods. You can really see a color diff between the dutch processed and regular cocoa, dutched is definitely the way to go.

  31. Lisa is Bossy says:

    “[they can stick it] perhaps they should consider a little vacation.” I almost guffawed out loud while sitting at my desk in the office. LOVE IT. So YOU! This looks yummy… it’s dessert time for me around these parts. A couple hours post-lunch; running on TOO LITTLE sleep. Chocolate cake sounds splendid. Sucks for me I’m still at my desk instead of in your kitchen…

  32. orinskitchen says:

    I and my hubby love chocolate cake. But beer…………interesting to try soon. Can not wait to give it to him. Thanks for the recipe. Yummy abiissssssssss….

  33. Melissa says:

    How can you not trust Deb?? Her stuff is the shizz. As is yours.

    I’m going to fly to Colorado and slap you though. Because now it’s in my head. And won’t leave. *Crying*

    “I was living for a dream, living for a moment, taking on the woooorld… ”

    Kill me now.

  34. Melissa says:

    Sorry, “loving” for a moment.

    I think I should be worried that I remember all the words.

  35. White On Rice Couple says:

    LOL! Tell em Jen! Stick it! Deb has awesome cake recipes and she’s always been clear about where her sources come from.
    I gotta try this one, for sure.

    And I LOVE Survivor!!! “How can I convince you? What you see is real?” – oh yell yeah, this cake looks awesome!
    “Who am I to blame you? For doubting what you feel?” – I know you all want some of this cake, I know you do.

    Here, let’s all sing together:

  36. theungourmet says:

    Lovely photos!

    I have a lab and she loves to sleep in the sun just like this. :0)

  37. Val says:

    The cake looks incredible, but you really caught my eye with the scenery photos. YUMMMMY!!

    Thank you for sharing the recipes you find, giving credit where you found them, extraordinary photographs & best of all – you. Enjoy your day. ;o}

  38. peabody says:

    First off that mountain picture is insane. Awesome!
    Oh and how moist is that stout cake. I need me some of that….and a beer sounds good too. :)

  39. jenyu says:

    Wendy – I have never made chocolate beet cake, but it sounds great (I *love* beets!). Would love the recipe if you feel like sharing… just nervous about getting a rave-review cake and then tanking it at elevation :(

    Pinky – Awesome! Thanks for the tip. I’ll look it up, but I think I just prefer that lovely Dutch-process cocoa cake texture. It’s out of this world :)

    Mark – mmm, that sounds great, but what? no sour cream?! Maybe we could add it anyway? :) Ugh, lite rock… *tummy ache*

    Kathy – me too!

    Rosa – thank you :)

    Tartelette – cakes surviving with you around? Don’t cakes and tartlets and ice cream and pastries MULTIPLY when you’re around?? :)

    Ronine – ah ha ha! I never even thought of that, how funny! Hmmm. I think the chocolate stout doesn’t have that strong of a chocolate flavor so I’m curious how a coffee stout would work (and of course, be still, Jeremy’s heart…)

    Macie – Aren’t those laws STUPID?! We have less stupid ones (but stupid nonetheless) here. Hope you enjoy your stout cake!

    Debbie – enjoy the cake. I’ll have to dig around for that raspberry cake. Always looking to expand the repertoire (waistline, not so much!)

    Bridget – It’s an awesome recipe. Gonna make it this weekend for a bbq (less work for me, yay!)

    Fiona – you describe it so well :)

    Mollie – The original recipe was intended for round cake pans (for a layer cake) and Deb reduced it and put it in a bundt pan. So it can go either way :)

    Dawn – aww thanks! I love it here too. That’s why we moved here :)

    Brandy – I don’t know why I have an irrational fear of cupcakes. Or maybe I have an irrational hangup about using up my cupcake papers?

    Patricia – For me, it’s getting a recommendation from a trusted source. She is really reliable like that.

    Irene – I know, those were adorable!

    Allen – :)

    Sil BsAs – Hmmm, I just did a search and I found 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup yogurt plus 1 tsp baking soda. Maybe that would work?

    Miss Jane – yes, AP flour! :) Those cupcakes are deadly looking. I’m sure they’re amazing. It’s a great cake anyway you cut it.

    Cindy – mm mm!

    Kiwibird – I wonder how it would translate into GF recipe?

    Green – thanks!

    Christina – It was the only one they had in the store – Young’s or something (British?). I used to get a Ft. Collins brewery chocolate stout that was kinda nice, but haven’t found it in a few years.

    April – thank you :)

    Dianne – ha ha, sorry!! :( I had it in my head too if it makes you feel better to have someone suffering with you?

    Caitlin – I saw you tweeting about gingerbread… curious now! hee hee.

    Y – oh sweetie, if you are ever on this side of the planet, come visit and stay with us. We’d love to have you :)

    Anna – great minds think alike!

    Mrs. E – Wow, I never tried one of those pans. How do you like it?

    Amy – I know! I was surprised at the color difference too. And the texture difference – the DP cocoa is waaaay better.

    Lisa – ;) Chocolate cake can be one-for-one exchanged for sleep, you know…

    Orinskitchen – Hope he loves that cake. I hope you like it too!

    Melissa – ;) You’re sweet. oh, sorry about the song thing. We’re all suffering now :( wahnnnn.

    WoRC – oh, the pain! I can’t believe you love Survivor? Ah ha ha! I’m sure Todd will smack me next time he sees me for having to hear Survivor on repeat for the next several days? ;)

    Theungourmet – doggies are so fun like that… and cute :)

    Val – thanks! You’re so kind.

    Peabody – I thought you’d like all the snow and ice :) Cool enough for ya, hon? hee hee.

  40. Leanna says:

    I made this last weekend sans ganache, as you did. It was perfect just the cake with a few raspberries. We were leaving on a road trip a day later, so I cut up the bundt cake into a few medium slices and took them to the road. Great recipe, I will make again and again.

    I used Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, as that is what I had in my fridge. It worked great.

  41. jenyu says:

    Leanna – awesome. I love this recipe and the cake is so moist and dense without being fudgey.

  42. » Post Topic » Chocolate Stout Cake - Day 4 of Chocolate Week says:

    […] a while back, and bookmarked it.  Then forgot about it.  Luckily, I saw it on Jenn’s Use Real Butter recently, and that gave me the kick in the pants I needed to make this delicious, moist, easy, […]

  43. Liz says:

    Just found your site and couldn’t be happier! I live in Denver and am always looking for good high-altitude adjustments on recipes. I’m making this cake this weekend as cupcakes (for that deadly looking Irish whiskey combo of Deb’s). Just curious if you thought I might have any problems using this recipe with the adjusted baking soda for cupcakes. I wonder if I’d have the same sinking you had with the mini loaf? Can’t wait to explore the rest of the blog :-)

  44. Liz says:

    Update: I made these with a tsp. of baking powder and they came out pretty good. A little dimpled, but that was okay since they got hollowed and filled with ganache. Thanks for posting this recipe and giving it a go first!

  45. jenyu says:

    Liz – sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner! My mailbox has been flooded… I think in Denver you can probably halve the amount of leavening (baking powder or baking soda) with decent results. At my elevation, it requires a greater reduction in leavening. Anyway, glad it worked for you!! Yay!

  46. Jessica says:

    Jen, I’m trying to figure out how to make this recipe when I have not been able to find Dutch-processed cocoa. I live in Colorado, down by Canon City, and no one here carries it. Even worse, I’ve looked in Colorado Springs and haven’t found it! But I noticed something about using baking powder with regular cocoa in your comments above but was unable to find it with a Google search. Is it possible? Thanks!

  47. jenyu says:

    Jessica – it can be tough to find. You can probably order it online if you’re desperate. I don’t really know about using regular cocoa and baking powder as a substitute – especially since additional baking powder can have disastrous effects at my elevation. Good luck.

  48. Pete Bolte says:

    Kaweah looks like my Bernie. Sleeping until you move. Great site with great pics. Don’t know where you live but it’s most beautiful and you have my envy You can generate your own new pussy willow trees in the spring. I’ve a new one getting ready for winter out back.

    As for the recipe, I’ll try it. I love doing stuff from scratch and I love beer, stout, ale so mixed with chocolate, what could go wrong?

    I wonder…..can you make something with pussy willows? Gotta check on that.


  49. Making stout into cake | Laura Makes says:

    […] The second one was for my husband’s birthday. This is the second time I’ve made this chocolate stout cake from use real butter.  Yes, the recipe really is in that blog post after you scroll past all of […]

  50. Laura says:

    I’m wondering if the altitude effected your cake any? I live in Denver and have tried some of Smitten Kitchen’s recipes that haven’t ended well-I’m guessing because of our location. But if you didn’t have a problem then I’ll bake with no fear!

  51. jenyu says:

    Laura – in the recipe, I put high-altitude adjustments for my elevation in parentheses. So I did reduce the leavening a bit. You might not need to make any adjustments in Denver?

  52. Laura says:

    I used the original recipe=no problems!

leave a reply