Roast and toast

I spent yesterday shopping in Petoskey with my mother-in-law and stocking up on some specialty foods at Symons General Store.  

Azure waters turned into frozen white chunks of ice as we drove into the city reminding us that spring hasn't sprung quite yet, especially this far north.  Martin spent the morning doing some late season snowboarding, dodging grass patches on his way down the slushy slopes.  Lunch at Roast and Toast was the usual deliciousness of sandwiches on the softest slices of whole wheat bread, home-made soup and great coffee. 

To finish off a near perfect weekend, Easter Sunday has arrived with another clear, pale blue sky.  Last night's stars were a sight to behold, rivaled only by French summer evenings spent lying in the cool grass watching shooting stars.  Too many to count.  We've passed our chocolate bunnies around and lined the treats up on the table for constant nibbling.  Even Kilwin's famous chocolate and peanut butter fudge takes a backseat to the cake batter I'm mixing on the stove top.  It's something special for my husband- Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake.  I can't think of a more perfect ingredient combination to satisfy his cravings. 

It seems odd to be preparing a cake batter with a large amount of stout, but the result is a subtle spiciness similar to gingerbread.  This ultra-moist cake is so damp and dense.  Like many of my favorite cakes, this is topped with a cream cheese frosting and the final outcome is a nod to the famous stout's frothy head.  I can't resist decorating it with Cadbury's Mini Eggs whose colors are the epitome of Easter.

Because everything is made in a sauce pan, this is an quick and easy cake to whip up.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

For the cake:
1 cup Guinness
2 sticks of unsalted butter, sliced
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the icing:
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the over to 350F and line a 9 inch spring form tin with parchment paper.  Pour Guinness into a large, wide saucepan and add butter in slices.  Heat until melted and then whisk in cocoa powder and sugar.

Beat sour cream with eggs and vanilla.  Pour into the Guinness mix and give a final whisk with the flour and baking soda.

Pour mixture into the tin and back for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  After 45 minutes, take the cake out and test with a toothpick to see if any of the cake sticks.  If it does, continue cooking in 5 minute increments.  I found that mine took 50 minutes.

Let the cake cool completely.  Because it is so moist, it really does need to be completely cold before icing or removing from the tin and bottom liner.  

While the cake cools, whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and beat together.  Add the cream and beat again.  Ice it and decorate with chocolate mini eggs if desired or leave them out if it's not Easter.  This cake is perfect for any occasion.

As it's Easter Sunday, I'm not just baking.  My mother in-law is visiting from England and it's only right to roast something.  After a brisk bike ride into Charlevoix and back, I can warm up and relax with a beer whilst watching the Masters.  

I was completely taken with the Herb-Roasted Pork Loin in this month's Gourmet magazine with it's shallot, mustard crust.  The herbal bed that it roasts on is so aromatic it will fill the house and tempt anyone within sniffing distance.  

The silky vermouth and mustard sauce should be liberally poured over the pork and perfectly mirrors the crust.  I love spring lamb or a typical Easter ham, but this seems like a celebratory roast.  I'm serving it with early spring's roasted asparagus and rosemary red skin potatoes.  

If the temperature holds, we'll finish the day with a bonfire, although many layers will be needed!


  1. Making the cake for Drew's birthday cake today!!!