One bottle of stout left. It sits in a lonely cupboard, high up, out of reach (don’t wanna knock it, don’t wanna break it, don’t want the children to think it’s a toy).
One serving of coffee-brown syrup, its luscious thick cream waits to foam up and out of the bottle. Rich in the mouth, heavy in the stomach, but oh so good. This drink fills you up like a meal.
One bottle to savour before who knows how long without it? Without anything like it. Prohibition started yesterday and only one bottle of stout left.
I’m going to drink it at my kitchen table, he thinks. At my kitchen table, from the bottle, with a cigarette smoldering slowly in one hand. I’m going to drink it at my kitchen table and remember the good old days and the home I left behind.
Its label isn’t peeling because he wants to peel it himself. Wants to feel the intense satisfaction of ripping it slowly, wholly from its glue. Clinging for dear life, he’ll coax it away. Ensuring no rips, no tears. It’ll come off in one piece and he’ll slap it onto the wall, he thinks. To remember, he thinks. For who knows how long.
That morning he leaves for work early, wants to get in a full day (wants to deserve his 5 o’clock treat). He kisses his wife goodbye but imagines he is pecking the bottle on its smooth glass cheek. “See you later,” he whispers as he departs.
His wife eyes the clock in her empty kitchen.
I’m going to surprise him, she thinks. At my kitchen counter, I’m going to mix up a batter. A rich, luscious, chocolate-brown batter. A celebration of the last stout, of the special day. I’m going to make it last longer this way. Otherwise, he’ll just drink it all in one go. A beer is not a meal. A cake to memorialize the last stout (for who knows how long!). A wonderful surprise, she thinks.
Hours later, the cake is majestic sitting upon the table; in the dead centre, it waits. A dark crumb with a thick coating of cream frosting mimics the departed. Upon his arrival his eyes fall onto target and then into themselves. One bottle of stout left and she makes a bloody cake with it.
Chocolate Stout Cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Despite the man’s disappointment in this story, this chocolate stout cake is amazing (although, of course, nothing beats a nice glass of stout). The cake is rich without being overly sweet and the frosting is the perfect topper: light, creamy and generously applied. Serve this cake with stout if you have it and with very strong coffee if you don’t.
You will need:
1 cup plus 2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup Stout (some like to use Guinness in this cake but I prefer a nice micro-brew)
¾ cup sifted Dutch-process cocoa
2 and ¼ cups sifted all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar (I used organic cane sugar but regular granulated works well too)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbs vanilla extract
and for frosting:
1 and 1/3 cup cream cheese (room temp)
1 and ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar (you may need less or more depending on how sweet you like your frosting – I used a little less than this)
2/3 cup cream, whipped
Preheat oven to 350.
Heat butter with stout and cocoa in a medium saucepan over medium heat (stirring occasionally) until butter is fully melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Combine flour, baking soda and sugar in large mixing bowl. Once cooled slightly, pour in stout mixture and lightly combine. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla and beat until everything is incorporated and your batter is dark in colour.
Pour into buttered/lined pan (a regular 9” cake pan with straight sides works fine). Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a tooth pick tester comes out with only a few crumbs sticking to it (this cake is very moist and you want it to be that way. I suggest checking the cake after 50 minutes and keeping an eye on it so as not to overcook it).
Allow to cool completely and then remove cake from pan.
and for frosting:
Beat cream cheese on medium-low speed in bowl with a mixer until the cheese is smooth and fluffy and there are no remaining lumps. Add in confectioner’s sugar by the ¼ cup and beat to blend (taste as you go along for preferred sweetness). Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in already whipped cream. Once cake is cooled completely, generously spread topping onto cake and enjoy with a nice stout.