Who would have thought that dark beer would bring out the flavor of chocolate?  After a stint working for a local brewing company, the chocolate stout was always enticing--and smelled delicious. We thought we'd give it a shot and it's been one of our favorites ever since.  Of course, sourcing vegan beer can be a challenge, but thanks to Barnivore, finding vegan options has never been easier.  Currently, we're using Old Rasputin, but Brooklyn Brewery has great choices as well.   One of the best things about using carbonated beverages is the direct introduction of carbon dioxide.  It adds lift and fluff without extra added baking soda and powder.  Dipped in dark chocolate ganache made with stout, as well,  bringing the rich flavors to the forefront of this cake.  The tuft of light, sweet frosting takes the edge off, unless you decide to add some bourbon or whiskey to it, like we have. Then it just makes it extra delicious.

Chocolate Stout Cake

Yield: Makes two 9” round cake layers or 18 cupcakes

1 3/4 cups (8.6 ounces) flour

1 1/2 cups (9.6 ounces) sugar

1/2 cup (2 ounces) cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1/2 cup stout

1/2 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease and flour 2, 9" pans
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a medium-size bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, stout, oil, and vanilla.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated.
  6. Fold in the vinegar until you begin to see streaks. See page 0000 for reference. Do not over mix the batter.
  7. Distribute batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch.
  8. Place the pans on a cooling rack to cool. Once the cakes are completely cool, run a knife or a plastic dough scraper around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake from the sides. Turn the pan upside to remove the cake.

For cupcakes: fill lined cupcake tin 3/4 full and bake for 16 to 19 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bottoms Up  Vanilla Bean Frosting

Yield: Makes enough frosting to frost a 2-layer 9” cake or 18 cupcakes 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons non hydrogenated vegetable shortening (recommended: Earth Balance)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (recommended: Earth Balance)

4 1/2 cups 10x powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean seeds

4 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip shortening and margarine with the paddle attachment until completely combined.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
  2. On low speed, slowly add sugar a little at a time.
  3. Once the sugar is incorporated, add the vanilla paste and bourbon and mix on low until the liquids are incorporated.
  4. Scrape the bottom of the bowl, and mix on medium-high speed until all ingredients are combined and frosting is fluffy, about 2 minutes.



8 ounces good quality chocolate

4 ounces room temperature Stout/Dark beer


On medium heat, heat the beer on the stovetop in a double boiler until steaming. Do not boil. In a separate bowl, pour the hot beer over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the two ingredients are completely combined. The ganache should be thick, but still pourable. Set aside.

Yield: approximately 1 cup


Now for the build;

Cupcakes: Once cooled, dip the tops of the cupcakes in the slightly cooled yet still liquid ganache.  Let the ganache set, then top with a dollop of Bottoms Up Vanilla Bourbon frosting.

Cake: Once cooled, spread about 1/4 cup of frosting on the top of a cake layer.  Add the second layer, then spread frosting on the top and sides.  Now, while ganache is slightly cooled yet still liquid, pour on top and and spread to the sides of the cake, letting it drip over the edges.  Let set and slice.