Every year, we host a “Metal as Fuck” dinner at the Greenhouse Tavern. As you can guess, everything we serve at the meal—from the burgers to the dessert—has a certain darkness to it, all of it inspired by the coolest evil crap we can think of. For example, take the backstory behind this vinegar-based cake. In the 1200s, an Italian dark-arts practitioner named Dracosia advised a powerful Genoan family during a war. When he failed to help them, he was prosecuted for practicing black magic and stripped of his name. The new name he and his descendants received was “Boccanegra,” which means “black mouth.”
Apologies for the following corniness, but when we first whipped up the dinner’s chocolaty, boozy cake, I totally fell under its spell. And that’s not even the best part about the cake; every single bite an attendee takes leaves his or her mouth pitch-black. I knew this cake was the perfect dessert for the “Metal as Fuck” dinner. It’s a proper tribute to the (admittedly incompetent) darkness-loving weirdo. Now that’s freakin’ metal.
- Wash the glass container in hot, soapy water, then rinse and dry thoroughly.
- Pour the beer into the container. Stir with the spoon to dissipate the carbonation, and then let sit for 30 minutes. You want the beer to be flat and not fizzy.
- Cover the container’s opening with cheesecloth, securing it with a rubber band, to keep out debris.
- Let the container sit in a cool, dry, and dark place for 2 weeks. Then, give the mixture a taste; if it’s sharp, tangy, and sour (like other vinegars you’ve had), it’s now vinegar (It’s perfectly okay to taste; no pathogens can survive in either the alcohol or the vinegar.) If you prefer, you can also judge the progress of your vinegar by using pH strips; we shoot for a reading of 4 or below on the pH scale.
- NOTE: When you first taste the mixture, if it doesn’t taste like vinegar, that means it either needs more time, oxygen, or alcohol, or a combination of the three. Let it sit for another week and then taste again. If there has been no further change, add a shot of vodka to the ferment in order to feed the mother and wait another week to taste once more. Remember that some vinegars develop very hot profiles while others are mellow; an infinite number of variables contribute to this.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8- to 10-inch cake pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, butter, egg, and egg yolk at medium speed until soft ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Turn the speed to low and slowly stream in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Once com- bined, add the stout, vinegar, and vanilla and keep mixing to fully incorporate. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool to the touch. (The cake will keep, covered and at room temperature, for up to 1 week.)
- Slice the cake into wedges and serve topped with ice cream, whipped cream, or jam.
Reprinted with permission from House of Vinegar by Jonathon Sawyer, copyright © 2018. Photography by Peter Larson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House