Elizabeth: Publishing Parties, Guinness, and Cake

As you’ve probably noticed, if today isn’t your first day visiting the blog, we’re currently in the midst of recipe week (of both the edible and creative kind).  So far our recipe ingredient lists have included romance, bananas, sweet potatoes, and a fallen angel – though not all in the same recipe.

I have two recipes today.  The first is courtesy of a book I read a few weeks ago by Judith Flanders, who I talked about in my last Author Squee post here.    A Cast of Vultures, book 3 in her Sam Clair mystery series, opens with the heroine Sam (an editor) waking up the morning after a night spent at a launch party for a new novel that included copious amounts of alcohol and, well, lots more alcohol.  She envisions that the publicist’s recipe for the evening looked something like this:

Successful Book Launch Party

  • Ascertain venue capacity;
  • Invite three times the number of people, in the expectation that half will not attend;
  • Of the half that does, remember that at least half of them will bring a friend;
  • The other half will bring more than one;
  • Order two bottles of wine per expected attendee;
  • Don’t forget those non-drinkers! Add two bottles of water and on carton of no-brand juice;
  • Food is essential. One bag of crisps per hundred guests and, if budget permits, half a dozen cocktail sausages;
  • Relax, proud of a job well done.

That makes me laugh every time I read it because, although I’m not in publishing, I’ve been to any number of work events that seem to have followed just that recipe, minus the cocktail sausages.

Obviously the above book launch attendees would have been much more likely to end their evening far less intoxicated if there had been some kind of dessert to soak up all of that alcohol, or at least slow down their drinking.

Several years ago, during a visit to Ireland, I found the Queen of Tarts café and patisserie over on Cow’s Lane.  If someone ever makes a fully functional teleportation device, that will be my first stop.  I don’t think I ate anything there that wasn’t delicious, but my very favorite thing was their Guinness cake, which is a fantastic combination of flour, sugar, chocolate, and beer.

Really, what could be better?

Though I don’t have their specific recipe, I was able to trial-and-error my way to something that tastes pretty darn close.  I’s been my signature dessert ever since.  As a bonus the cake (unfrosted) freezes quite well, which means I’m rarely without some on hand for “emergencies.”

Guinness Chocolate Cake


  • 1 cup of Guinness (or probably any dark/stout beer)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (the dark chocolate variety is best)
  • 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar (or caster or superfine, whatever you call it)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of baking soda


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter and line a 9” spring-form tin (like you’d make cheesecake in);
  2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter into the Guinness and then whisk in the cocoa and sugar, and take the saucepan off the heat;
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until combined, and then add to the beer mixture;
  4. Whisk in the flour and baking soda until everything is combined.
  5. Pour the whole mess into your prepared pan and bake for an hour. The middle of the cake may seem slightly damp at that point, but TAKE IT OUT anyway.  It will firm up when it cools and be deliciously moist.
  6. Let the cake cool completely before frosting, freezing, or basically doing anything with it.

The cake is delicious enough on its own, but if you want the complete experience, you should top it with Baileys Cream Cheese frosting.

  1. Cream ½ cup of room temperature butter with 4 cups of powdered sugar (icing sugar);
  2. Slowly beat in 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese;
  3. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream and beat until frosting is light and fluffy.
  4. Dollop lashings of frosting onto the top of the cake to recreate the froth on a glass of Guinness.

Slice.  Eat.  Enjoy.  Repeat.

7 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Publishing Parties, Guinness, and Cake

      • I’ve decided this cake will be a nice alternative to the standard thanksgiving desserts tomorrow. If no one else agrees then It will be yummy leftovers for me.

    • Ever since we went to Ireland, I’ve been doing more cooking with Guinness. It is great added to stew. Ironically, I can’t stand to drink it though.

      • I got really sick on it one year in my youth and I can’t drink it anymore, either. However, I have heard that it is great in stews, and I have a mind to try it in chili. I’ll have to let you know how that turns out. Unless you’ve already tried it. Which you might have, in which case I’d love to know how it worked out.

        The cake, though, sounds divine and is going on my TBB (To Be Baked) list!

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