By Kate Oliver February 22, 2018
I was asked by the local craft brewery, Bitter Brother's Brewery, to create a dish that would pair fabulously with their Little Sister Russian Imperial Stout. Newly released (in January), I was the MOST excited to do this pairing. Mind you, I'm normally a light hefeweizen or blonde drinker, but when I got to taste Little Sister, I fell immediately in love.
Little Sister is aged in Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels. For Reals, it is the smoothest tasting Stout I have ever had (and I have had a few). Little Sister has cocoa nibs and a tart cherry flavor, however SUPER light (as in, I am not a fan of cherry anything, but I barely noticed when tasting). When drinking Little Sister, it is recommended to drink her cold. I mean, who drinks a stout warm? Little Sister was released January 2018 and if you haven’t had it, or even been to Bitter Brothers Brewery, you should get there!
To pair with Little Sister, I tried to decide between a flourless chocolate cake and my personal favorite, an adaptation of Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate cake. Because Little Sister has cocoa nibs, I went with the chocolate cake. I have been perfecting this cake for a bit now. It is probably my favorite dessert craving, but only because I end up doing something different that works for me every time I bake it. It's pretty quick to make and perfect to make the night before an event.
The cake recipe is an actual adaptation from Hershey, with quite a few tweaks.
Prep Time: 20 min Cooking time: 30-40 min Serves: 12
The RECIPE (as adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake):
2 Cups Sugar (recommend baker’s sugar)
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour (recommend King Arthur’s all-purpose flour, sifted)
¾ cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (I use Pink Himalyan Salt)
2 eggs (cold)
1 cup milk (Lactose Free is okay)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
"Perfectly Chocolate" Frosting
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray with cooking spray and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. I used butter cooking spray and actually sprinkle a few teaspoons of cocoa powder and shake the pans to spread the cocoa powder. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then mix with a whisk. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. You can beat for two minutes on medium speed or whisk by hand *if you whisk the dry ingredients first, it makes mixing all the ingredients easier*. Stir in boiling water by alternating water and mixing. This will thin the batter, a little, but will also smooth the batter (no lumps) when you alternate adding the water and stirring. Pour batter into pans and bake for 30-40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire racks. ***Do not skip the removal step as you run the risk of the cake breaking when you remove from the pan.***
Here’s the fun part: Frost the Cake
This is where you can get so creative. I have made the Perfectly Chocolate Frosting from Hershey and like it, but it’s just too much butter for me. However, whipped cream frosting is a super hit with friends and family.
Here is the Hershey’s recipe for the “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting:
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa Powder
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup of Milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the butter. Stir in cocoa powder. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. This should make about two cups of frosting.
So, with making the frosting I followed the directions for the “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate frosting, EXCEPT I used Cool Whip whipped cream instead of milk. I alternated the powdered sugar and a tablespoon of whipped cream. I think I used about 5 tablespoons (give or take one or two).
For this recipe, I grated one semi sweet chocolate bar to top the cake. I iced the first cake (after leveling, of course), sprinkled the shredded chocolate on the icing. Then I placed the second cake (this is a two-tier cake) on top and iced that tier, then I sprinkled the shredded chocolate onto the icing.
I placed the cake in the refrigerator to cool overnight. It easier to cut a slice and plate for presentation.
The Taste Test:
When pairing Little Sister Russian Imperial Stout with the cake, so much flavor comes from the icing. Since I shredded the semi-sweet chocolate to top the cake, the chocolate definitely heightens the bourbon in the beer. I swear, I had a party in my mouth! I mean, of course it does.
On its own, Little Sister is fantabulous, but paired with the chocolate cake, it actually brings out the bourbon and the cocoa nibs. I know it may sound unconventional to drink beer with cake, but who said that we are?
The taste testers:
Daniel: "Yo, that's fiya" He is a HUGE stout fan and this one is DEFINITELY up his alley. He did think it was different to have the cake and beer together, but after that first bite, he was won over.
Mr. Foodie: He's not huge fan of dark beer and he actually liked Little Sister on it's own. He ate a bite of cake then sipped the beer. He said that it was a definite difference and that to him, the cake made the beer taste sweeter. Weird, but I get it.
True story though, bite of cake and a sip of Little Sister, you will thank me later. It is amazing and heaven all rolled up into one!