Boozy St. Patrick's Day Cake
Updated: Mar 18
Whether you are planning to go out or stay in for St. Patrick’s Day this year, this cake is the perfect sweet and boozy dessert for every St. Patrick's Day celebration. When I was figuring out this recipe, I was trying to find the best combination of dark Irish beer, creamy Bailey’s Irish cream, and sweet Jameson Irish whiskey, to remind folks of the surprisingly delicious mixed shot everyone has tried and probably regretted at least once (but, you know, without the regret part).
The cake combines one of our favorite Northwestern beers, Irish Death (though you can use Guinness), with Jameson, Bailey's, and coffee for a dense and rich chocolate cake. Layer it with homemade Bailey's White Chocolate Ganache and Jameson Buttercream for a cake that melts in your mouth with every bite!
I have made this cake as a four-layer cake with a professionally decorated outside, but I wanted to keep it simple, so this recipe is written for a two-layer cake with easy decorations that is beautiful, and will keep everyone asking for more. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
St. Patrick's Day Cake
For the Cake: (Makes 2 round pans, I use 8”, 9”, or 10” depending on how large I want the cake to be)
4 cups white sugar
5 cups flour
1 1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 cup Whole Milk
1 cup Irish Death Beer (or Guinness or other dark beer of choice)
½ cup Coffee
½ cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 ½ Tablespoons White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
For the Ganache:
½ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 cup white chocolate chips (Use the best quality possible! High quality white chocolate chips are very important for a good Bailey’s ganache. Otherwise, it may taste chalky)
For the Frosting:
2 cups salted butter, soft
½ cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
One bar of your preferred dark chocolate
-Preheat oven to 350F.
-In a large bowl, add all dry ingredients and mix together well (Sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt).
-For the next part, you will need three small bowls.
-In the first bowl, mix together milk and Bailey’s.
-In the second bowl, mix together beer, coffee, and whiskey.
-In the third bowl, mix together vegetable oil and vanilla.
-Once these are all ready, add vinegar to the milk/Bailey’s bowl and mix. This will curdle up into a flaky looking pudding consistency - don’t freak out, it’s okay.
-Pour all three bowls (milk mix, beer mix, and oil mix) into the dry ingredients and mix well. Scrape the sides and bottom with a spatula and mix again until well incorporated.
-Line two round pans with parchment paper (I use 9”, but you can use 8”, 9”, or 10” for this recipe) and spray sides with cooking spray. Using parchment paper on the bottom of the pan will guarantee that the cake won’t stick to your pan and fall apart when flipping it out later. You can purchase pre-cut parchment paper for this purpose, but I just put the cake pan on the parchment paper, trace the outline of the pan, then cut just to the inside of the outline for perfect cake-sized circles that don’t have pen ink cooking into the cake.
-Divide batter in half between the two pans.
-Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake times will vary with cake pan sizes.
-Remove from oven and let cool completely before decorating.
For the ganache:
-You will want to make this about thirty minutes before you plan to ice the cake so that it has a chance to cool enough that it doesn’t melt your frosting, but doesn’t cool so much that it is set up and difficult to use.
-This requires a double boiler, but don’t fret if you don’t have one! I don’t either, so I just use a small pot of water with a glass or stainless steel bowl placed over the top of it. See pictures for more details.
-With the water in the bottom of your double boiler cold, add baileys and white chocolate chips to the top bowl/pot. Turn your stove on medium-high heat. I do this instead of starting with a rolling boil like most recipes call for so that the ingredients can gradually heat up.
-As water heats up, stir occasionally. Once white chocolate chips start to melt a little to the sides, stir in one-minute intervals (stir one minute, let sit one minute).
-You will notice that the white chocolate chips begin to get flaky. At that point, just keep stirring and the mixture will suddenly incorporate to a creamy, white chocolate and Bailey’s ganache. Stir until all chips are melted and mixture is smooth.
-Set aside on a cloth to dry the bottom of the bowl or pot. Stir occasionally as it cools so that a thick skin doesn’t develop.
For the Frosting:
-Whip the soft butter in the bottom of a large bowl with your hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).
-Add 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar, and whip together until well incorporated (1-2 minutes)
-Add Vanilla and ¼ cup of the whiskey and whip until well incorporated.
-Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and whip until well incorporated and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
-Add remaining whiskey and whip together until well incorporated.
-Slowly add remaining powdered sugar. At this point, use your discretion – I use all eight cups, but if you feel like the frosting is getting too thick, you can stop here.
Building the cake:
-Remove cooled cakes from pans if you haven’t already.
-Using a bread knife, gently cut the domed top of the cake off. I score a line about 1 inch deep around the edge of the cake before cutting all the way through to help make a more flat cut. Do this for both cakes.
-Place one of the cakes on your chosen plate or cardboard cake circle.
-Spread a layer of icing on the cake, creating a ½ inch rim around the edge. You can make the rim with an icing bag if you prefer that, but a knife works just fine.
-Pour half of the Baileys ganache on top and spread around to the edges, using the frosting rim as a block so that it doesn’t pour over the edge.
-Place the other cake on top of this and frost entire cake with remaining frosting. You may have some frosting left over – it is great on saltines or graham crackers!
-Pour remaining Bailey’s ganache over the top of the cake and spread to the edges. This is the same ganache that I use in my more professional cakes as a drip around the edges, so if you want to get fancy, go for it!
-For decoration, use remaining frosting, or simply grate a bar of chocolate on a zester or a cheese grater for some beautiful flaky chocolate!