This rich chocolate cake is made with Guinness and brown butter, and topped with the creamiest, most delicious cream cheese + brown butter Guinness frosting. It’s perfect for any celebration – especially St. Patrick’s Day!
(Even though there are about 438 references to Guinness in this post, this recipe was not sponsored.)
I really don’t like alcohol – except when it’s in dessert. This cake is no exception. The Guinness adds a depth of flavor to this cake and frosting that makes it hard to stop at just one piece. Although the cake looks impressive, it’s relatively simple to make – and the frosting is too. Let’s walk through it!
How to Make Guinness Chocolate Cake
Making a cake is completely do-able for all skill levels – even if it sounds intimidating! First, we’re browning our butter on the stove until it has a nutty, caramely aroma (directions in the recipe below).
That mixture gets poured into a big mixing bowl, and whisked together with the guinness, and then the sugar and cocoa powder. Then, we’ll add the greek yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Greek yogurt is the trick to keeping this cake (and most of my cupcake recipes!) super moist.
Last, we’re adding the flour, baking soda, and a little espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor – I promise it won’t give a coffee taste to the cake! The batter will be thinner than a brownie batter. See? Easy! You didn’t even have to get out your mixer.
How to prevent cake from sticking to the pans:
If you have trouble getting your cake out of the pans easily, my never-fail trick is to grease and flour the cake pans. I use a paper towel to rub shortening all over the inside of the pan, making sure to get all the nooks. Then, sprinkle in a generous handful of flour, and hit one hand against the side of the pan while rotating it with the other hand to distribute the flour – make sure you get the sides of the pan too! You can stand the pan up and sort of roll it on your counter (like you’re turning the steering wheel on a car) to make sure the flour coats every inch!
This cake makes two layers – bake them both at the same time, let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. It’s SO important to cool your cake layers completely before frosting them. Frosting will melt and slide off a warm cake, and the whole cake will have structural issues.
How to Make Brown Butter Frosting:
I never knew frosting could be THIS delicious. I mean, obviously frosting is good – we know that. But something about the mixture of cream cheese, brown butter, and Guinness takes this frosting to a whole new level.
How to Brown Butter:
Browning butter is easy – and only takes a few extra minutes of minimal effort. Just melt your butter in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until it gets bubbly, then foamy, then starts to turn golden brown. Once it’s golden brown, pour it into another bowl (to stop it from cooking more, and burning) and let it cool a bit in the fridge. The few extra minutes of effort is so, so worth it for the amped up flavor.
While the butter cools, cream the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl, with your mixer. Add the brown butter, and mix until it’s well-combined. It will look a little lumpy and weird (see below) – but it’ll smooth out as we add the powdered sugar.
The frosting is pretty minimal – just brown butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, Guinness, and a splash of vanilla. The brown butter and the Guinness are doing the heavy lifting for flavor here, so we really don’t need much else!
So, have I convinced you that a) cake is not terribly difficult to make or b) that this Guinness cake will be utterly delicious or c) that you need brown butter in your life STAT? Hopefully all of the above.
More St. Patrick’s Day Desserts:
Bailey’s Chocolate Mousse Parfaits – Silky smooth layers of Irish cream-infused whipped cream, chocolate whipped cream, and crushed oreos make up these delightful personal-sized desserts!
No-Bake Mint Chocolate Pie – This luscious dessert requires only 8 ingredients and less than an hour to make!
Lucky Charms Rice Krispie Treats – These colorful gluten-free treats require just 5 ingredients and 15 minutes to make.
Layered Mint Chocolate Brownies – Layered with a rich, fudgy brownie base, a creamy mint buttercream filling, and a luscious layer of chocolate ganache.
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo!
Guinness Chocolate Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
For the Cake
- 1 and 1/2 cups Guinness or similar dark stout beer
- 15 tbsp butter
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 and 1/2 cups cane or granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 eggs SEE NOTE
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp full fat greek yogurt can sub sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour can sub AP
- 3 and 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder
For the Frosting
- 2 sticks + 4 tbsp butter 20 tbsp
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened SEE NOTE
- 5 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 tbsp Guinness
- Prep: Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans well. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Make the Cake: Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium high heat. Once melted, turn heat down to medium and cook, stirring, until the butter browns. It will first bubble up, then get foamy, and then it will turn golden brown. The foam hides the color change sometimes, so make sure to stir it around well, pushing the foam out of the way, to make sure you don't overcook it. Make sure to stir well, scraping up any little brown bits from the bottom of the pot. As soon as it's golden (see photo above) remove from the heat, add Guinness, and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and cocoa powder, and whisk until well combined. Add the eggs, greek yogurt, and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. (See note below about how to do 1/2 an egg.)Add the flour, baking soda, and espresso powder and whisk until well combined. The batter will be semi-thick, but thinner than brownie batter. It will have a sort of frothy, airy consistency, too, from the beer.
- Bake: Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs on it (not wet batter). Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edge and invert onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.
- Make the Frosting: Sit out the cream cheese so it can soften at room temp. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium once melted, and cook, stirring, until butter begins to brown. It will bubble up, then get foamy, then it will start to turn golden brown. Pour into a clean bowl and set in the fridge to chill for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the softened cream cheese to a large mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer until creamy. Add the slightly cooled butter and mix until it sort of smoothes out - it'll look lumpy and odd but trust! (See photos above). Sift in the powdered sugar, 2 cups at a time, and mix well between each addition. Add the Guinness and vanilla and mix.
- Assemble: Frost your cooled cakes - use strips of wax paper to keep your cake plate clean. Drop a large blob of frosting in the center of the cake, and use a butter knife or offset spatula to work the frosting outward. Repeat for second layer. I left the sides naked on this cake so you can go heavy on the amount of frosting between layers and on top!
- Serve + Store: If the cake has been out at room temp for a bit, you might want to chill it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before serving, so it holds its shape when you cut into it. To store cake, stick some toothpicks in the top and in the sides to keep the plastic wrap from sticking, then cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Leftovers keep well for up to 6 days in the fridge.
- Make Ahead Tips: Frosting can be made 1-2 days ahead. Cover tightly and store in the fridge. Let it come to room temp a bit before frosting - or whip it back up with your mixer to get it to a spreadable consistency if you're in a rush. Cake layers can be made 1-2 days ahead. Let cool completely, then place each layer on a plate, stick 2 toothpicks in the top of each layer, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. The top of the cake is so moist, so the toothpicks will help keep the plastic wrap from sticking and tearing the top of the cake. Store at room temp overnight, or in the fridge for 2 days.
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