It’s almost March! Growing up in the midwest, March makes me think of blustery, grey days. It meant that Spring was coming, but first you had to endure this last Wintery tantrum.

In the Rockies, March is a little different. We still get snowstorms, but the snow melts quicker, and the temperatures rise into the 40’s. Paired with some Colorado sunshine, you can actually work up quite a sweat if you’re outside. Nearly a year ago my little brother was visiting and on our snowshoe expedition he stripped down to a T-shirt.

Yesterday it was very windy. Watching the aspens sway, and hearing the gusts against my house, I couldn’t help but think of March. March also reminds us of another upcoming holiday: St. Patrick’s Day.

That’s why this chocolate stout cake is nearly perfect for this time of year. Not only is it probably one of the best chocolate cakes you will ever taste, but it can be dressed up for the occasion. Perhaps top it with some Bailey’s buttercream, and serve it on a plate with a little Jameson caramel sauce?

This is my high altitude adjusted version of Nigella Lawson’s chocolate Guinness cake. It can be baked in a 10-inch cake pan and dressed like a torte, but it also works well in a 9 x 13 pan. I think it tastes best when it’s baked in a pan that allows it to retain some thickness. The cake is so moist and the epitome of what we all look for in a slice of luscious chocolate cake.

A stout beer or chocolate stout beer from your local brewery will also work nicely in place of the Guinness. Unless, of course, you wish to go all-out Irish.

Chocolate Stout Cake (adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson)
6 oz butter
12 oz stout beer
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream, creme fraiche, or Greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F. In a large sauce pot, melt the butter and beer together over medium-low heat. When melted, remove the pot from the heat and add the cocoa powder and sugar. Whisk until smooth. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the beer mixture and whisk well. Last, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; then add to the beer mixture. Stir until just mixed. Pour into a greased and parchment-lined pan. Bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of your cake pan. The cake will still look slightly wet in the center. As long as the center springs back lightly when touched, the cake is done. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert to finish cooling completely. Enjoy the cake plain, topped with powdered sugar, or covered in a Bailey’s buttercream. Mocha and cream cheese frostings also go nicely with this cake.

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