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The Best Chocolate Cake (with a Secret Ingredient)

I know what you’re thinking, what could this secret ingredient be? Guinness, yes, the beer. You are not reading this wrong, the key ingredient to this cake is Guinness, and to make it even better, the frosting has Bailey’s. No, this is not a typo, it is just a delicious Irish secret.

Trust me on this one, because once you make this cake, your chocolate cake preferences will permanently change. I was hesitant the first time too, but now my family has a new beloved recipe. 

Disclaimer: Even if you do not like beer, you need to try this recipe. My Mom hates beer and she loves this cake. Also, this cake does contain alcohol and it does not all cook out, alcohol is addictive, but so is this cake, so please proceed with caution. 

Yield: 10 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes


Guinness Chocolate Cake

1 ¾ cups (222 g) — All-Purpose/Plain Flour

2 cups (400 g) — Granulated Sugar

¾ cup (64 g) — Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 teaspoons — Baking Soda

½ teaspoon — Baking Powder

1 teaspoon — Fine Salt

¾ cup (170 g) — Sour Cream

½ cup (115 ml) — Vegetable/Canola Oil

3 — Large Eggs, at Room Temperature

2 teaspoons — Vanilla Extract

1 cup (250 ml) — Guinness Beer

Irish Buttercream

4 sticks (454 g) — Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature

6 cups (750 g) — Powdered/Royal Icing Sugar, Sifted

¼ cups plus 2 tablespoon — Bailey’s (Bailey’s Chocolate Luxe is the best if you can find it)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Generously grease two 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment rounds.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract and beer.

  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.

  5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for 30 minutes before carefully turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 

  6. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar then the Irish cream. Beat the mixture on high speed until very light, fluffy and smooth, about three minutes. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash more Irish cream. If it’s too thin, add some more powdered sugar.

  7. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Frost the top of the cake generously, as this will become the filling. Use even more if you're decorating as a 'naked' cake as shown in the photos. Top with the other cake layer, flat side up.

  8. With an offset spatula, spread a very thin layer of frosting all over the cake. This layer is a crumb coat and should act like spackle. For the smoothest frosting, return the cake to the fridge or freezer until firm to the touch. 

  9. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. If desired, focus the frosting on the top to maintain the 'naked' look. 

  10. Enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from Tessa Arias’ Handle the Heat

MaryCate (she/her) is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a BA in International Studies. MaryCate is now a Master's student at Sciences Po in Paris, France studying European Affairs and Global Health.
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