For e2's birthday, here is a special-occasion dessert. This takes very little technical knowhow, no actual baking if you use ladyfingers or premade cake, and no matter what, when served it's going to look like a (delicious) hot mess, so there's no pressure to try and make it gorgeous. All that matters is the flavor.
Even for a non-beer-drinking person like me, this is a fun spin on traditional tiramisu. Guinness, chocolate, vanilla, and cream get along really well, and the flavors blend into something not overwhelmingly beery. But people who do enjoy beer have been inspired to hug me after eating this.
Depending on the amount of cake/cookies you use, the recipe below should pretty much fit in an 8-inch square pan, or pie plate. Since it doesn't need to cook after assembly, you can use absolutely any vessel, from mugs, to something plastic, to (best!) a clear glass bowl with tall sides, which will allow you to show off several impressive-looking layers. I always double the recipe, which yields a single deep layer in a 9x13 pan.
This recipe has a lot of wiggle room for personal taste - use more cake, chocolate, or cream filling, whatever you like. I would advise you to pretty much stick to the given ratios for Guinness to cake, as well as sugar to cheese, because these numbers are very well balanced. Oversweetening or drowning this dessert are really the only things that could go wrong, and worse things could happen.
- 1 pound (460g) cream cheese or mascarpone, room temp
- 0.75 cup (7.4 oz / 210g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5ml) plus 0.5 teaspoon (3ml) almond extract, OR a splash of Irish cream
- 0.75 cup whipping cream (6.5 oz / 175 ml), heavy or light, chilled
- 8 ounces Guinness
- 36 ladyfinger cookies, or approx. one 9-inch round vanilla cake, cut into chunks
- ~6 oz (170g) semisweet chocolate, shaved or grated (finely chopped chocolate chips will do in a pinch)
Mix the cream cheese (or mascarpone) well with the sugar and extracts (or Irish cream). Set aside.
Separately, whip the cream for a few minutes, until stiff peaks form. Fold this gently into the cheese mixture. Taste it. You don't want to mix it too much more after this point, but if you feel like it needs more vanilla or whatnot, definitely add it.
If using cake, cut it into chunks about 1-3 inches wide (bigger than crumbs, small enough to arrange easily). Make a solid layer of these (or ladyfingers) in the bottom of your pan.
Pour the Guinness in there! This part is fun. There's no wrong way to do it, but do be mindful of drowning your cake. You want some to soak into all the cake pieces, without flooding it. You be the judge.
Grate chocolate over this (how much is up to you; I use a lot).
Cover this with the cheese mixture. This can be a little tricky to spread. The best way is to drop it by dollops into the pan, then use a knife or spatula to sort of widen these dollops until they touch each other, then spread smooth.
If you're only doing a single layer, cover this with another layer of chocolate shavings and you're done. Otherwise, put another layer of cake/cookies on top of the cheese layer, then more Guinness, etc.
Cover and refrigerate immediately.
This is better the next day, but excellent right away if you can't wait.
The almond extract is skippable. Just get some flavoring element in there so the cheese mixture tastes of something more than sugar.
If you're doing multiple layers and you fuck up the order of the ingredients, it doesn't really matter. Optimally you want the Guinness to get a chance to soak into the cake, but it's going to be good anyway if all the elements are present.
I don't want to be a snob, but please don't make this using cake from a mix. The flavor would be fine, but I worry about the texture. Box mixes yield cakes which are half air, and that ultra-fluffy texture seems likely to get too soggy in this context. If you need to cheat, you'd be way better off using the traditional ladyfingers, or even a premade vanilla pound cake. Something sturdy.
The absolute best cake component for this is the elegant white vanilla cake, which can be made way ahead of time and frozen.
In general I find mascarpone about a million times lovelier than cream cheese, but they are pretty indistinguishable in this, with so many flavors going on.
The cream-whipping stage is very forgiving. It may matter to other recipes if you under- or over-beat the cream. It doesn't matter a lot here at all. Aim for what looks like "stiff peaks" but don't worry too much about it. Similarly, don't stress about perfectly folding them together. Just get them mixed.
If you have a microplane this is a great excuse to use it. Otherwise, the easiest way to deal with the chocolate is with a cheese grater.
Photos here (large pan) and here (individual).
For god's sake please tell me if you make this; it would make me so happy.