Guinness Chocolate Cake

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It was Krystopf’s birthday last weekend, and, as I do for the fam-dambly, I take on the cake-making duties as a present – the birthday person gets to pick whatever one they want and I do my best. Krystopf picked a Guinness Chocolate Cake, which is a very grown-up sort of cake (he did turn 38 after all, so I *suppose* he’s a grown-up).

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For the cake:

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In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup butter.

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Then grab some Guinness.

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Pour 1 cup Guinness (or other stout if you prefer). Keep the rest for yourself. It’s never too early for drinking Guinness, especially if you’re baking.

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Pour the Guinness into the butter and stir it up.

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Allow that to come to a foamy simmer before removing it from the heat.

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Whisk in 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.

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Let that cool for a little bit.

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In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350°F and butter and flour a 9″ cake pan. This one is springform because I find with fancy cakes it just makes everything easier.

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Now, in a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1 cup sugar.

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In a smaller bowl, beat up 2 large eggs and tip in 2/3 cup sour cream.

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Pour your no-longer-hot chocolate Guinness butter mix into the egg and sour cream mix and stir it up.

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Isn’t that pretty?

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My whisk has a much heavier handle than the whisk part and I always have to remember to take it out of the bowl when I let go of it. This ONE TIME, I forgot. That is chocolate all over my floor.

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Time for a new whisk.

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Now pour your chocolate goo into your flour and whisk until fully combined and smooth.

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Pour that in your cake pan and shove it in the oven. The recipe Atlas gave me said it would take 35-40 minutes, but I found it took closer to 60 minutes to cook all the way through.

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For the filling:

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While that’s on the go, you can make your filling. Slam 8oz bittersweet chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl and top with 2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream and 2 tablespoons butter.

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Plop that over a pot of simmering water and melt, melt, melt!

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Set the finished ganâche aside to cool until it’s the consistency of pudding.

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For the frosting:

Now you can work on the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, dump 1/2 cup room temperature butter and whip that until it’s pale and creamy.

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Slowly beat in 3-4 cups icing sugar.

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If it gets too stiff, add in 3-4 tablespoons Bailey’s or other Irish cream liqueur.

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I also found a little dribble of whipping cream got it to that perfectly creamy, spreadable consistency.

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Cake assembly:

By this time hopefully your cake is gorgeously baked and entirely cool. If not, then you’ll just have to wait a bit longer.

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When it’s ready, slice the cake in half horizontally.

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Take a small spoon to the bottom half and scrape away a bit of the inside.

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Use your fingers to press down, creating a shallow bowl.

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By now your ganâche should look like this.

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Pour that gorgeousness into the little bowl in your cake. I didn’t use all the ganâche here because otherwise I was afraid it would run over the sides when I put the top on. And it did that anyway, so in future I would use all the ganâche and purposely make it run down the sides.

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Put the top on the cake. You can see that the ganâche is already peeking out.

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Spread your icing thickly on top. It’s already pushing the ganâche out the sides so I decided to forego icing the sides altogether and just do the top.

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Then it kind of looks like a poured Guinness with a nice frothy head.

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The final touch was shaving a bit of bittersweet chocolate on top. Serve to your brother or your friends and family. They’ll all enjoy it!

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Custom Carrying Caddy

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This was another birthday present for the Pie.  When he goes off to play Street Fighter, he brings what is known as a “setup,” which includes an XBox, the game, his fightstick and a display monitor.  He can put pretty much everything in one backpack, but carrying the monitor to and fro is more difficult, especially when negotiating doors and long hallways and preventing it from getting damaged while sliding around in the trunk of the car.  So he has often wished aloud that he had some kind of specialized carrier that would make humping the monitor to and fro less of a pain in the patoot.

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The idea percolated in my head for a few months, and then, about a week before his birthday, I figured it out.  I managed to make this, from concept art to completion, in about three hours, on a horribly humid and rainy Sunday afternoon.  I’m not sure if this particular DIY is practical for you, but maybe you have something awkward you need to carry around on occasion and if so I hope this inspires you to make something that is perfect for the purpose!

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First, obviously, I measured the crap out of everything.  I studied the front and back of the monitor, figuring out where the base stuck out of the back and how wide it was when it did so.  To make this custom caddy stable, it made more sense for the caddy itself to enclose only the screen, and have the base stick out the bottom.  This means that you can put the whole thing down on a surface without it overbalancing and tipping over.

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I picked up this absolutely awesome Spider-Man fabric at Wal-Mart.  I couldn’t resist.

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And if I turned it sideways, it was the perfect size for a custom caddy.

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This quilted stuff I grabbed at Fabricland, as well as some red velcro and some red strapping.

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In order to ensure the continuing accuracy of my measurements, I had to cut the stuff in the basement where the sewing machine was, and then carry it upstairs two storeys and hold it against the monitor in question. I would have brought the monitor down but it would have been harder to explain if the Pie had come home early.  This shot shows the fold-over flap at the top.

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Now I needed to figure out the hole for the base and stem.

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Measure, check, measure, check again, and then finally cut.  Fortunately I bought enough of the quilted stuff to have a do-over if I messed it up, but I didn’t want to waste it.

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The slit in the back of the caddy with the hole for the base.

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Here it is with the foldover flap pinned down for measuring purposes.

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Now to attach it to the outside fabric.

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I pinned it in place as straight as I could, and mitred the corners to avoid fraying.

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In order to have the Spider-Man fabric wrap properly around the quilting along the slit, I widened it slightly to give me a little wiggle room.

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Not much wiggle room, but some.

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The pinned slit.

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This gives you an idea of how it’s going to look from the back, with the top flap folded down.

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And the flap open.

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Then I sewed it all down.

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It’s not perfect in the hole but it’s the best I could do at the time.

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Now for all the bits to hold it together.

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Each strap is a metre long, and I pinned them far enough down on the caddy so they would support the weight of the monitor while not putting too much strain on the fabric.  They’re also at a comfortable spot for the straps to go over your shoulder, with the monitor balanced against your hip.

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Sewn in place with reinforced stitches.  You can see here how the foldover flap keeps the two sides split by the slit together.

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In order to keep the foldover flap in place I needed the velcro.  One fuzzy strip across the flap and a hook strip on either side of the slit.

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Sewing velcro on a machine is not easy.

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It was hot work, in fact, but the humidity outside didn’t make anything easier.

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But I did it!

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So basically here’s how it works.Custom Caddy 31

You open it up and align the slit with the base of the monitor, tucking the strap over the monitor (not shown in this shot, sorry).

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Slide the slit along the base of the monitor (sideways works best).

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Twist the carrier so the solid side is in front, covering the screen.

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Lift the caddy by the straps …

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… and fold the flap over to hold the two back ends together.

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So you can easily carry it and just as easily set it down.

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Here’s me trying to take a selfie while holding the thing on my shoulder.

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