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Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I really love making cakes. I jump at any celebration or occasion that calls for cake. Which makes the fact that most of our family lives on the other side of the country rather hard: I see it as a lot of birthdays and missed opportunities for cake. Sure you can mail cards and gifts, but cake? Not so much.

So when my parents happened to be in town for a visit on my Dad’s birthday, well, let’s just say I’ve been planning this cake since July.

I told you I like cake.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

The cake itself is a chocolate stout cake, made using an entire bottle of stout beer. But even the beer-adverse (myself included) will love this cake, which has a slight hint of malty flavor, but mostly just comes across as rich, chocolatey, and incredibly dense and delicious, almost brownie-like.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I elected to add a layer of gooey dulce de leche in between the buttercream, hoping to accent the caramel notes in the beer and provide a rich contrast to the chocolate and vanilla. It worked. And my Dad commented that the dulce de leche really elevated the cake to extraordinary heights (well, to be fair, his precise words were more like, “Is this dulce de leche? It really… mmmm… nomnomnom… yeah”). Yep. I agree.

Golf Themed Birthday Layer Cake

This is one cake where the outside is as charming as the inside is delightful. Frosted with green buttercream turf, and topped with an edible golf ball made of white chocolate. The hole is actually a shot glass sunk deep into the layers of the cake. It’s a novelty theme cake that’s cute and classy without being kitschy.

It went over quite well. I mean, how could it not? It incorporates beer and golf, two of his favorite things, together in one cake. The only way it made sense, really, since a grass-flavored cake in the shape of a beer bottle wouldn’t have been nearly as appealing.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Yield: 1 8-inch layer cake


For Cake:
1 1/2 cups (1 bottle) stout or dark beer
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup dark or dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For Filling & Frosting:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 cup dulce de leche, room temperature


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans or two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper circles, then butter parchment. Set aside.

Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sifted cocoa powder until smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture, and mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.

Slowly add the dry ingredients, a little bit at a time, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl to be sure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, using a kitchen scale if possible to be sure the layers are even. Place cake pans on middle oven rack about 2? apart (if using three pans space over two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven), and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely. At this point, the cakes can be frozen until ready to use, up to 1 month. Simply wrap each layer individually in a double layer of plastic wrap and then store inside a large zip top bag. Personally, I always make my cakes a few days in advance and freeze them. I find the frozen cake to be much easier to level and frost than fresh cakes.

To prepare frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter for on medium speed until very pale & creamy, about 8 minutes. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cream, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract and beat until light, creamy, and fluffy, about 6 minutes more.

To assemble, level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Leveling the cakes is an important step for creating a beautiful layer cake. Not to mention eating the scraps is the best part.

Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. To keep the platter clean while frosting, place 4 small strips of parchment or waxed paper just under the edges of the cake. This will allow you to frost the cake and then remove these strips cleanly later.

Spread half of the dulce de leche evenly over top of layer, followed approximately 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining dulce de leche, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and final cake layer, flat side up.

Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This "crumb coat" will make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set. At this point if you will be coloring the remaining buttercream, add your food coloring to the mixing bowl and beat until color is smooth and uniform.

Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream, reserving some if necessary for piping decorative details or grass if desired.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour via Sweetapolita.

// All images and text ©
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71 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Just beautiful! I’m sure he loved it! Happy birthday to your Dad!


  2. 2
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Oh this is amazing! My grandfather was a big golfer and I bet he would have loved this cake!


  3. 3
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    One of the best cakes ever and that is saying something given lindsay’s and L&OO’s repetoire of cakes! So glad I was here to help decorate and taste firsthand!


  4. 4
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    This cake looks amazing! I was curious if you had a preferred brand of dulce de leche that you typically use. Thanks.


    • Posted On November 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      This is just the regular grocery store brand… Nestle, I believe. I have yet to try making it myself (by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk… makes me nervous!)

  5. 5
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    This is fabulous! I love that you paired beer and caramel. I know many men in my family would love this!


  6. 6
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I love the intricate details on the grass! the cake sounds like such a happy marriage of flavors. beautiful, Lindsay! :)


  7. 7
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    wow Lindsay, this is amazing! My dad loves golf too (not beer though), and I should totally make him this cake. That is some impressive grass. :)


  8. 8
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    That cake is amazing! I just made on for my dad’s birthday too but it was bit less involved. He’s happy with a box mix cake and his Packers helmet piped on top.


  9. 9
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Holy cow, that’s insane! A masterpiece :) And it sounds delicious, too!


  10. 10
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    What an adorable cake! Perfect for a dad or a father in law!


  11. 11
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Seriously awesome. Running off to pin for future reference. Hubs would LOVE this.


  12. 12
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    This is gorgeous and I think I already saw it on FG or TS last week? I know I’ve seen the images somewhere…gorgeous!


    • Posted On November 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      I posted it on Instagram on Sunday… perhaps that’s where you saw it? :)

  13. 13
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Yum, this would be a perfect cake to make to use up the Guiness that is sitting in my fridge! I love your dad’s comment on the cake. Dads are so good with words:)


  14. 14
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    That is one of the most amazing cakes I’ve seen! How fantastically creative! I can’t imagine piping all that turf, but it’s gorgeous. Also, chocolate stout cake with dulce de leche…your family is very lucky!


  15. 15
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    This is gorgeous. Can I hire you for my dad’s birthday? haha


  16. 16
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    This looks and sounds AMAZING!!!


  17. 17
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Such a cute cake! Love it!


  18. 18
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Such a beautiful cake! Love the decorations! Chocolate stout cake is so good!


  19. 19
    Julie at Burnt Carrots
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    What a cute cake! At first I thought you went golfing! You are so talented. I can barely frost a cupcake. Stouts are my favorite type of beer and it sounds unbelievably tasty inside a cake!


  20. 20
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    That cake is amazing!! I have to make this for my parents, they are true golf nuts!


  21. 21
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    This is SO cool – makes me wish my husband was a golfer. Any reason why the chocolate stout batter wouldn’t work for me as a cupcake? YUM.


  22. 22
    Posted On November 15, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Oh, how I’d love to be able to make a cake like this! Both hubby and I play golf, but he is really good, I am a hacker. I know he would love a cake like this for his Bday, but… I am totally cake-challenged :-(

    gorgeous work, I really loved it!


  23. 23
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Wow, you have some major cake decorating skills!


  24. 24
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 12:59 am

    i LOVE this cake and seriously wanted to cry when I saw your instagram of your dad taking a photo of it. SO ADORABLE!


  25. 25
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Great cake, I am stunned. And you pictures are truly breathtaking. Makes me want to pull out my fork and start eating the cake!


  26. 26
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Beautiful cake! The grass looks amazing.


  27. 27
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 9:34 am

    This is cute! I love chocolate stout cake! I think it is the best!


  28. 28
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

    love it! it turned out adorable + sounds delicious as well. well done, lindsay!


  29. 29
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    NICE WORK! The cake sounds insanely good!


  30. 30
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    What a perfect cake for your parents! I’d say you shot a Hole-in-One!!!


  31. 31
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    This is SUCH an awesome idea! Your dad must have been thrilled!


  32. 32
    Posted On November 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Lindsay, my heavens! This cake looks utterly gorgeous! And I’m pretty sure you had me at Chocolate. Yum!


  33. 33
    Posted On November 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    This is just TOO adotable! I couldn’t get over the golf theme, and MY GOSH, anything dulce de leche would be nomnomnom…. :)


  34. 34
    Posted On November 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I’m so impressed that your dad know what dulce de leche is! Perhaps you inherited some of your foodie sense from him! :) I can’t get over how rich that chocolate cake looks–gorgeous!


  35. 35
    Posted On November 18, 2011 at 12:08 am

    What a beautiful cake and the flavor combinations are perfect.


  36. 36
    Posted On November 18, 2011 at 4:02 am

    This is a gorgeous cake, truly! My golf-addict father-in-law’s birthday is next week and I’m seriously thinking of making this for him. Any tips on how to pipe the grass (I’ve never done it before but will also google it)?


  37. 37
    Posted On November 18, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Great recipe ! I made this for my brother! It`s delicious!!!


  38. 38
    Posted On November 18, 2011 at 4:34 am

    Wow, wow and again wow!

    kisses from your follower! ?


  39. 39
    Posted On November 18, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Gorgeous! Is it wrong that I want to eat the filling and frosting with a spoon all day every day?


  40. 40
    Posted On November 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    OMG! That is really an awesome cake! I love it! Any golfer would love it!


  41. 41
    Posted On November 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Beautiful cake Lindsay, and lovely to see how you combined your dad’s favorite things ;)


  42. 42
    Posted On November 20, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Mr. B’s name is all over this cake!! How perfect for a man that loves beer AND golf! I know I will be making this as a surprise for him sometime soon. :-)


  43. 43
    Posted On November 21, 2011 at 9:52 am

    What a cute cake, plus the vanilla bean buttercream sounds to die for, which means this cake won’t just look good, it will taste good too :)


  44. 44
    Elina (Healthy and Sane)
    Posted On November 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve made a layered frosted cake only once because there just never seem to be occasions perfect enough to make such a cake. I’d love to improve my (currently non-existent) skills though. This cake sounds and looks absolutely incredible. I love the playfulness of the “grass” and the white chocolate golf ball. Fantastic!


  45. 45
    Posted On November 22, 2011 at 12:55 am

    it’s about to drop… just a little more and it’s in… whyyy… do you….tempt me… this much….


  46. 46
    Posted On November 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    This cake is too cute! Just sent this post to my friend whose dad is big on golf, he would love a birthday cake like this :) Also, can’t wait to send off cookies for the cookie swap!


  47. 47
    Posted On November 27, 2011 at 7:14 am

    This looks amazing, its definitely going on my list of desserts to make! It was so nice stumbling across your blog this morning, I enjoyed all the wonderful treats you shared with us!



  48. 48
    Posted On December 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Since you love making cakes so much, wanna make this one for me ;) It’s ahhhhhmaaaazing!!!!! Everything from the flavor combo to the detail work, I mean WOW, beautiful!


  49. 49
    Stine V
    Posted On January 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    The heavy cream you use in the filling and frosting, what is the % of fat in that. If it is 48% can I substitute it with 36%?


    • Posted On February 12, 2012 at 9:55 am

      The cream I use is straight from the farm and so I’m sure on the high end. But any cream listed as “heavy” cream or “heavy whipping” cream should work just fine.

  50. 50
    Posted On February 11, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I am so making this for my Dad, however I do not know much about cakes…what kind of cake tip did you use for the “grass”?


    • Posted On February 12, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Tip #233, called a grass tip. :) It has a lot of little holes in it. Would be great for ‘fur’ too!

  51. 51
    Posted On May 20, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Dear Lindsay,
    I am Bucci, a reader from Italy. I had to do a golf themed cake, and I figured in my head exactely this cake of yours. Then I surfed the Google images to see if someone else already had my idea, and I happily found your delicious cake!
    Now I am doing it, following your recipe, I just changed little things, to follow my friend’s taste. As soon as I will post my recipe, I’ll come here to write you the link. Obviously I will quote you in my post!
    Thanks a lot, talk to you soon,


  52. 52
    Posted On May 26, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Dear Lindsay,
    here is my golf cake:
    Thank you,


  53. 53
    Posted On July 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Hey! I LOVE this cake and I am getting reading to make it for my husbands birthday! I have a question that may seem dumb since I don’t see that anyone else has asked it! I was wondering how you got the shot glass into the cake?? Do you just push it into the cake or cut out a hole and then put it in? Thanks in advanced for the clarification!


    • Posted On July 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Cut a hole about the size of the glass (or just a tiny bit smaller), then push the shot glass into place.

  54. 54
    Posted On July 15, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Can you explain how you made the golf ball? It’s so realistic looking!


    • Posted On July 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Golf ball candy mold filled with white chocolate. Super simple. :)

  55. 55
    easy baking recipes
    Posted On November 25, 2012 at 1:37 am

    I’m looking for a cake for my nephews coming birthday next week and I think this is a winner. Love your imagination on this one. Great work!


  56. 56
    Posted On March 18, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I definitely don’t have to tell you that this cake is just awesome! I found your post on Pinterest last year when looking for a stout-based cake to make for my husband’s birthday. I used this one and created a giant beer mug cake out of it! This has become my mother-in-law’s absolute favorite cake flavor, and of course I just got through using it for St. Patrick’s Day, complete with a boozy buttercream. Thank you for sharing!


  57. 57
    Posted On January 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Hi! I was wondering what tip you used to frost the cake? The grass part? Thanks!


  58. 58
    Posted On June 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Lindsey
    Please let me know as soon as possible. I need to make a birthday cake for our twin grandchildren and would like to take my time and make it in advance .
    Did you ever freeze a completely ready made cake??
    If so how did it work?


    • Posted On June 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      I have not frozen an entire cake. I freeze the layers, and then assemble and frost the cake they day of. I’m not sure how freezing would affect the consistency of the buttercream.

    • Posted On June 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks Lindsay ! Will see how I am going to manage :)

  59. 59
    Amanda Miller
    Posted On July 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I just found your blog on Pinterest and absolutely love it!! My boyfriend is a golf professional so I just had to make this cake! Did you make the white chocolate golf ball or did you buy it somewhere? Very cute! 


  60. 60
    Posted On February 3, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Hi there! Beautiful cake! I’m planning on making this, but I wanted to know how you did the hole? Did you cut it and how? Thanks!


    • Posted On February 3, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Just a pairing knife. You could also use a cookie cutter the size of your shot glass and cut the hole from two of the layers before assembling.

  61. 61
    Posted On April 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Fantastic cake! I’m going to try this for my husband’s 40th birthday! When and how do you sink the shot glass? Where did you get the chocolate golf ball from? Thanks. 


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