Chocolate Stout Cake with Brown Butter – Cream Cheese and Jam Frosting

We’ve always been a birthday pie family. My dad makes the world’s best blackberry-blueberry pie (we’re not going to argue about it – I’m just right on this one) and for our birthday’s each year he always makes 2 pies. One is solely for the birthday kid and the rest of the family would share the other. And it had to be done this way because my brother’s 6th sense is knowing when there’s fresh pie and when there is fresh pie it’s like he loses all self control and inhales a double slice then doesn’t put his plate away because he knows he’ll be back in less than 5 minutes for ‘just a sliver’. I’ve come to realize staying out of the kitchen for these 5 minutes takes about all the strength he can muster and we all just laugh about it, and sometimes set a timer.

Chocolate Stout Cake Batter ComponentsSo I turned 34 this month and since my folks have become snowbirds I’ll be requesting my birthday pie when they get back this summer and while I’m thinking about giving up on birthdays, it was a great excuse to bake a cake exactly the way I wanted.

Chocolate Stout Cake Pans Ready for OvenChocolate but not too heavy and it needed a fruity aspect. Most importantly it had to have cream cheese frosting. But not just any cream cheese frosting. A few years back I found a recipe in Good Housekeeping for Brown Butter Frosting which has changed my cake eating life. The recipe is paired with a Spiced Parsnip Cake (which is also delicious) but this frosting is so amazingly decadent and grown-up tasting that it should be shared with so much more than just one cake.

I started where I always start when I need a fantastic recipe: Smitten Kitchen. Her Chocolate Stout Cake recipe is meant for a bundt pan so I upped the ratios a bit to make two, thick, 9″ cakes then went my own way once they were in the oven.

Frosting components for Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting w/ Jam For that fruit element I mentioned I went into the pantry and came out with my last half-pint of Blackberry Sage Jam that I made last summer. This sweet/tart/earthy jam goes so beautifully with the nutty-buttery-creamy frosting that I almost opted to forgo the cake entirely (instead I left a lot in the bowl and considered the ‘clean up’ dinner that night – and of course had cake for dessert). I went with a more rustic look and didn’t frost the sides but left the middle and top a bit thicker. I find that each bite of cake should have equal frosting and doing it this way allows me to move around the frosting once on my plate a little easier – but to each there own. You can frost your own cake however you want!

Piece of Chocolate Stout Cake

Chocolate Stout Cake w/ Brown Butter Cream Cheese & Jam Frosting


    For the Cake:
  • 1 ½ cups Stout Beer
  • 1 ½ cups Butter
  • 1 ¼ cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 ½ cups Sugar
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting w/ Jam
    For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup (8 oz) Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
  • 8 oz Blackberry Sage Jam


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray the bottoms of 2 9” round cake pans
  3. Bring the Stout and Butter to a low simmer over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Let this mixture cool slightly.
  4. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to blend.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sour cream together until smooth.
  6. Slowly pour the warm stout mixture into the egg and sour cream mixture whisking while adding.
  7. Pour chocolate mixture over flour mixture and fold just to combine.
  8. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. About 30 minutes.
  9. Let cakes cool in pan then turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. While cakes are cooling, make your frosting.
  11. Invert one of the cooled cakes onto a serving plate (trimming a little off the top if the cake has a large dome) and smear about half the frosting over the cake. Place the second cake on top and smear the top with the remaining frosting.
    For the Frosting:
  1. Make Brown Butter: In a large skillet place the butter over medium heat and stir gently until the butter has browned and is very fragrant. This takes about 8-10 minutes and the butter will go from melted to sputtering to foamy to just perfectly browned and nutty smelling. Take your time and keep an eye on it, it can go from perfectly browned to burnt in 10 seconds.
  2. Let brown butter cool slightly then transfer to the bowl of your stand mixer and place it in the fridge until just set, about 30 minutes.
  3. Place the bowl of brown butter on your mixer and whip lightly to break up the butter. Add the cream cheese and whip until combined.
  4. Add sugar slowly and whip until frosting is light and fluffy.
  5. Remove from mixer and fold in the jam.
  6. Use to top your favorite cake recipe.


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