Confession: I have quite a sweet tooth. I try not to give into it often, but I go through periods (such as when I am sleep deprived like I have been for the past four months or so) when I have almost no willpower and can't keep any sweets in the house without eating them. Luckily for me, I eat pretty healthy aside from this weakness, but I sometimes think I should quit sugar completely in order to stop craving it so often.
I have been experimenting more with natural sweeteners, making occasional treats that Ewan and I can share (we only started allowing him sugar just before his third birthday, and just on special occasions). But I don't have enough experience baking things like cakes with anything other than the real thing.
We celebrated Jason's birthday earlier this month, and he requested this cake, a favorite in our house. This has been my go to chocolate cake for a number of years; I have made it too many times to count. I used to make it for co-workers' birthdays back when I was employed outside the home.
I love baking but try not to bake sweets very frequently because I can't stop myself from eating too much of the finished product (see above). Baking is such a great activity to do with toddlers and older children, but we usually stick to making things like granola, pancakes, and bread dough. Ewan was extremely excited to help me make his Papa a birthday cake.
I first discovered this recipe when searching for a dessert to make on St. Patrick's Day. Adding stout to a cake seemed like a very American way to celebrate the holiday, aside from coloring a white cake green (definitely not my style). I have never gone wrong baking a cake recipe (or really any type of recipe) from the Smitten Kitchen; Deb really know her cakes along with everything else she makes.
This chocolate cake is not as sweet as a typical chocolate cake, and the taste of the stout really comes through, so choose your beer wisely. I have also made it with porter, which is another beer that can easily be substituted here.