The Unexpected Ingredient That Will Take Your Chocolate Cake Up A Notch

Who else always pictures that memorable chocolate cake scene in "Matilda" whenever you think of chocolate cake? Sure, the kid ate himself into a stupor — but we all remember that cake. Dark, dense, and so, so decadent. It's hard to believe you can take something as amazing as a rich, chocolatey cake and make it even better. Yet, so many ingredients can be added to a chocolate cake to up its wow factor.

Things like coffee or sea salt can bring out the best of its flavors and orange or raspberry can contrast with the chocolate for an exciting taste bud experience. And ingredients like chocolate chunks or peanut butter can further add to its delectability, making it taste even more divine. But there's one ingredient you may not have expected to find in a chocolate cake recipe – in fact, it's one you may never have thought to bake with at all.

The secret ingredient that's sure to step up your chocolate cake

You might want to break out your bottle opener for this one. A dark, malty beer could be the unsung hero of your next chocolate cake. Because dark beers like porters and stouts are made from roast malt barley, they often result in notes of coffee, cocoa, caramel, and even dried fruit (per MasterClass). These flavors, as we know, lend themselves well to either complementing or enhancing something like rich chocolate.

The Cake Blog explains that with any alcoholic beverage you add to a recipe, some of the alcohol will burn off in the baking process and leave those extra notes of flavor behind. So don't worry about your cake being too boozy, and think more about the flavor of the specific beer. While porters tend to be a bit sweeter and stouts a bit more bitter, both are great choices for a chocolate cake recipe depending on the flavor and consistency you're going for. Just remember to stick to a dark variety of beer for chocolate cake because of the flavors and maltiness that help add depth and the slight bitterness that helps offset the sweetness of the sugar.

How to incorporate beer into chocolate cake

Once you decide on your beer, there are a couple of ways you can incorporate it into your chocolate cake. If you want to add a subtle layer of moisture and flavor enhancement, you can try substituting around ¼ cup of the liquid in your recipe (whether it's water or milk) with beer. To make the stout or porter more the star of the cake, you can simply use beer as the main liquid ingredient — either by replacing the full amount of water in a boxed cake recipe, or using anywhere from ¾ to 2 cups of beer in your cake, depending on what other ingredients are present. You can add the beer to your own family recipe or try adding it to any one of these dangerously delicious chocolate cake recipes.

You can stick to a classic brew, like Guinness, or try a coffee stout or chocolate porter for some extra intensity. A good tip is to use room-temperature beer so the foam can settle a bit and it's not too cold when you add it to the recipe. And if you happen to have some leftover, those last couple of sips will pair perfectly with the slightly boozy, not-too-sweet chocolate cake you've created.