Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Cheese DinnerCara/Andrea here, wishing all our Wenchly friends a happy holiday season. As is our tradition here, we’re all doing daily posting to celebrate the 12 Days of Chistmas and some of our favorite things about the season. Well, I don’t know about you, but festive food is always one of my favorite treats (did someone say chocolate?) especially when celebrated with family and friends.

Meghan-cooking I spent Christmas with my older brother and his family—who all love to cook. (Here’s my adorable niece—with SIL in the background enjoying the kitchen chaos—who helped her Dad prepare the amazing wild mushroom Risottorisotto.)  Friends brought an array of scrumptious dishes, included a fabulous assortment of cheeses, smoked salmon. Add bright salads, vegetarian specialties, lots of wine, flickering candles, vintage glasses and silver . . . the groaning board was overflowing with good cheer.

I brought a dessert, and as I always enjoy perusing recipes, I decided to try something new I had recently discovered—a Chocolate Guinness cake (which I thought was a fun C-g-cakehomage to my SIL, who did her PhD dissertation on James Joyce.) It was a big hit (and I have to say, it really was fabulous, and quite easy to make) So, it’s my favorite recipe of the 2011 Holidays, and I’d like to share it. (Sorry, it disappeared so fast I didn’t have a chance to photograph it! But here's a shot from Nigela Lawson's food site.)

Nigella Lawson's Absolutely Fabulous Chocolate Guinness Cake

1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Ingredients for the topping:

8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese

1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the over to 350 F, and butter and line a 9 inch springform pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter — in spoons or slices — and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner's sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsifted confectioners' sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.

Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Enjoy! Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy New Year!