Last Tuesday afternoon I was overcome with a sudden strong desire to make a chocolate cake. I expressed this thought on Twitter, asking the internet world if I should act on this desire. I got many responses in the realm of “yes, duh!” Why shouldn’t I make a chocolate cake right now?
One response I got was from Esi of the blog Dishing Up Delights. She suggested that I “add some Guiness to make it awesome.” I’ve certainly heard of people using stout in chocolate cake before, so this didn’t seem unusual. However, it took me a while to realize that this suggestion was offered because it was the day before St Patrick’s Day, which happens to also be my half-birthday. Clearly I had to make a cake now.
A few years ago on St. Patrick’s day I had made green tea cupcakes with avocado icing and marzipan shamrocks, and thinking about this I remembered a recipe from Joy the Baker for Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake that I had bookmarked a while back. So I decided to adapt that recipe to make an avocado chocolate stout cake. It sounded crazy, but I was willing to believe that it would work.
Rather than using a standard stout such as Guiness, I decided to use a chocolate stout, because this was after all going to be a chocolate cake. I went to my local specialty beverage shop and found Stone Brewery’s Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. When I brought it up to the counter, the shopkeeper said “oh, you’ve got my favorite beer there.” I told him of my plans to put it in a chocolate cake and he thought it was a good idea.
I decided to use virgin coconut oil in conjunction with mashed avocado as the fat in this recipe for two reasons. One, it creates a similar saturated fat content to a butter-based cake, and two, the coconut oil adds another dimension of delicious flavor. The use of coconut oil in the icing helps the icing set up like a butter-based icing, because coconut oil solidifies at a relatively warm temperature.
My new friends who adore my cooking as much as I adore them were more than willing to come over and help me taste test this cake. I poured the remaining chocolate stout into five empty jam jars and served it with five large slices of the cake. It may seem unusual to serve beer with cake, but the complex chocolatey flavor or this stout was a good pairing. One friend exclaimed how it had so many different tastes “a taste, a middle taste and an aftertaste” the aftertaste being chocolate!
And the cake itself? Delicious! It had a spongy mouthfeel and also a moistness and richness, without feeling overwhelming or oily. It definitely read as chocolate cake, not in a “death by chocolate” way, but rather in the way that cake is comforting and chocolate is complex in flavor. Familiar and comforting, yet wild and exotic, the avocado icing certainly helped with this too. It was smooth, creamy and sweet with just a hint of exotic avocado and coconut flavors and a natural color that is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 6 tbs High Quality Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup packed Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1/2 cup Mashed Ripe Avocado (about 1 medium avocado)
- 1 cup Chocolate Stout
- 1 cup Rice Milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 2 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Ripe Avocado Meat (about two medium avocados)
- 1/4 cup Virgin Coconut Oil, chilled, chopped into pieces
- Juice of One Lime
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
For the Cake:
For the Icing:
- Preheat oven to an exact 350° F. Be sure to check your oven thermometer. Grease two 9″ cake pans with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Stir the vinegar into the rice milk. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Whisk the mixture until everything is evenly distributed and uniform in color. Set aside.
- Whisk together the avocado and coconut oil in a large bowl. Add the stout, rice milk mixture and vanilla and whisk until well combined. There may be a few lumps of avocado left which are fine.
- Using a spatula, gently fold the prepared dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix just until no dry bits are visible. There will still be some lumps.
- Evenly split the batter between the two prepared pans and shake the pans to level the batter. Bake for 30–35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack and remove pans to complete cooling, leaving the parchment on until it’s time to apply the icing.
- To make the icing, place the avocado, coconut oil, lime juice and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat together until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and mix until completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Taste, and add additional powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness is reached.
- To assemble the cake, spread about a tablespoon of icing down on your cake plate, then place the first cake round on top. The bit of icing on the bottom will help glue down the cake to the plate. Next spread about 1/3 of the remaining icing atop the first cake round, then place the second round on top. Pour the remaining icing on top of this and spread even and smooth.
- Place in cake caddy and refrigerate at least an hour until ready to serve. Refrigeration helps the icing set up. The lime juice prevents the avocado in the icing from turning brown, however best color and flavor is achieved when the cake is served no more than a couple hours after the icing has been made. The cake will still be tasty the next day, it will just not be the same shade of green.