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Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

I've always had a vision of myself as a great connoisseur of wines—to be able to tell the subtleties between grapes grown from varied regions or, more rarely, the minute differences in the same wine year to year. I'm not a great connoisseur of wines. In fact, the word I and connoisseur don't belong in the same sentence. While I love a full-bodied glass of wine, I'm hopeless when it comes to actually describing what I'm drinking. Shamefully, I must admit the way I can tell wines apart (and if I enjoy them) is whether or not they taste like "church."

Now that is certainly nothing to brag about.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Nevertheless, while visiting the Tuscan countryside in Italy a few years ago, I decided a wine tour was absolutely necessary. If I couldn't be an actual wine connoisseur, I could at least fake it. There is no place better to pretend to have the fine skills of a sommelier than the true heart of wine country, right?

My friend and I ended up choosing a wine tasting combined with a bike tour of the countryside. At the time it seemed like the perfect idea. With the sun on our faces, we could bike between vineyards with the smell of growing grapes lingering in the air. We would stop only for a glass of the finest wines, while we explored the intricacies of a working winery. Our plan was flawless.

However, reality was much different from our daydreams, but no less of a story to tell.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

The day started out bright and fresh. We rode our bikes, weaving between vineyards and gorgeous Tuscan villas. Our daydreams truly came to life as we stopped at a castle to taste wines and sample infused olive oils on freshly baked bread. Another ride through the countryside brought us to a small, quiet trattoria where we stopped for lunch. With our bellies absolutely stuffed full of salad, wine, pasta, wine, decadent desserts, and more wine, we settled back in our seats, never more pleased, with our eyes beginning to close from sheer bliss.

Then, to snap us out of our wine induced euphoria, we were told the hardest part of the ride was yet to come. The Tuscan countryside was full of gentle rolling hills, yes, but we had not anticipated climbing a hill so long and steep it could put mountains to shame (well, not quite, but to our alcohol addled minds it might have well been Everest).

After a bit of whining and complaining, we returned to our bikes for the uphill battle. Perhaps a little tipsy and our bikes a tad more wobbly, we trudged forward. The hill has a 17% percent grade in a few points, we were told. But only a few! Nevermind the fact that small hills put me and my biking skills to shame, I was determined to climb the hill.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

It's safe to say I walked my bike up the entire mile long hill, treading so slowly I was easily the last to arrive. I later argued I got to see more of the countryside this way (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

While the wine and bike tour was not quite what I imagined it to be, it was perfect for me—the ideal mixture of sun, sights, wine, and absolute ridiculousness. I didn't become a wine connoisseur, but I learned I can walk up a really big hill with a belly full of wine. Something tells me that might just come in handy again.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Red Wine Chocolate Cake Red Wine Chocolate Cake

This Red Wine Chocolate Cake embodies the beauty of a glass of wine in a rich chocolate cake. Using red wine instead of buttermilk brings a deep red hue to the cake as well as a rich flavor. While you may not be able to pinpoint the wine exactly, it adds an extra touch that gives the chocolate cake a rounded flavor. The cake itself is not terribly sweet (I really wanted the darkness of the chocolate cake to complement the wine), but the honey mascarpone whipped cream adds a touch of soft sweetness to the overall picture. The flavors in the cake develop more overnight, making the cake even better on day two.

This is an adult cake. The oven does not bake out all of the alcohol from the wine, so keep this cake away from the kids (finally a treat just for you!). While the cake does contain alcohol, it is not enough to make you tipsy (or anywhere near there). A glass of wine with a slice of this cake will do that for you.

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Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Honey Mascarpone Whipped Cream
Adapted from 17 and Baking

Yields 9x5-inch loaf

Red Wine Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Beat in the wine and yogurt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to wine mixture slowly, mixing until just incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake bounces back slightly. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Honey Mascarpone Whipped Cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey

In a medium mixing bowl, whip mascarpone, heavy whipping cream, and honey until soft peaks form. Spoon on top of cooled cake and serve immediately.

Reader Comments (35)

That is the best story. I have been on a ride like that. Norway, beer, and a hill that seemed more like a wall. I can't wait to make adult wine cake! xo
10.5.2011 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea
Your pictures and recipes always look amazing! Your blog is definitely on my top ten favorites. This cake looks delicious and beautiful :]
10.5.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel Goldammer
Everytime I check your blog I'm hit with inspiration to bake something new! First it was the S'more Pie... then the Beet Cake. And now I HAVE to make this!
Red wine and chocolate? You've made a cake that combines two of my favourite ingredients! And it looks beautifully moist and delicious... Your blog is wonderful - looking forward to trying this recipe out soon!
10.5.2011 | Unregistered Commenterthelittleloaf
This looks amazing! My husband doesn't drink alcohol, but I can't wait for my next girls' night for an excuse to bake this!
10.5.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne
So you're getting to know wine, next step is beer!
10.5.2011 | Unregistered CommenterKS
Great story! This is something I've got to try for sure..thanks for sharing ;-)
10.5.2011 | Unregistered CommenterSamCyn
Red wine and chocolate, two amazingly ingredients combined delicious ingredients combined together. What more could a person want? Yum!
Great combination! What If mascarpone is not available? Should whipped cream do?
10.6.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMakie
It even has the color of a glorious red wine, too. A perfect dessert with an after-dinner glass of vino.
10.6.2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Jung
My two favourite ingredients! I will have to try to tweak this recipe into a grain free version soon... Mmm. And a great story to go with it, too.
10.6.2011 | Unregistered CommenterSilje
Chelsea-- It certainly sounds like there is a story behind that adventure. :)

Laurel-- Thanks for the kind words!

The Little Loaf-- Thank you! I'm glad I could combine your two favorite ingredients in one go.

Leanne-- Girl's night is always a good excuse for a little fun (and cake).

Makie-- Whipped cream will do. Mascarpone adds a little something extra, but this cake would still go great with whipped cream if mascarpone isn't available.

Silje-- I hope going grain-free works out! Let me know if it does, I'd love to hear your changes.
10.6.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
What a gorgeous elegant dessert for grownups.
10.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLora
I saw this just this morning and knew I had to make it at once. Oh. My. God. This is one of the best cakes I've ever had in my life. Great recipe, great blog. Thank you for sharing your wonderful taste. :)
10.8.2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
You're photos are so elegant! I love when the photo looks so good I could reach in and eat it!
10.10.2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicki
I came here through Becky's link at Daily On My Way To Heaven . . . marvelous cake! And can't wait to try it out! :)
10.18.2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Woodham
This was an excellent dessert for several reasons. It was rich and moist, chocolately at first bite with the tang of red wine as an undertone that grew into an aftertaste. The color was darker brown, almost black with red undertones, than the pictures here. I substituted cream cheese for the mascarpone, and didn't bother with the heavy whipping cream. The result was a very cheesy, lightly sweetened frosting. I feel this is a very mature dessert, not just because of the wine, but because of the complexity of flavor and that the cake was not particularly sweet. An elegant and fulfilling dessert.
10.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
I really loved this cake! It isn't very sweet, and the mascarpone is such a nice touch. Thank you so much for sharing this!
10.21.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeAnna
this cake looks and sound amazing. I cannot wait to give it a try!! Could I bake it in pan type - like a circular one?
10.25.2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
Emily-- I see no reason why you couldn't! You will have to adjust the baking time depending on the size pan you use. Just keep that in mind and you should be fine!
10.27.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Hello, I would just like to say that I made this cake last night for my coworkers today. It was a huge hit! The cake is absolutely delicious and moist and rich with chocolate and red wine. I put this on my blog: I loved it and will definitely make it again. I didn't do the frosting, or any frosting for that matter, and it was perfect!
11.1.2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
This recipe was great! I made the cake yesterday, then created the frosting and ate the deliciousness tonight. I would definitely recommend it! My frosting looked a bit smoother than in the pictures, though... perhaps because I used a mixer instead of doing it by hand? Regardless, the taste was exquisite. Thanks!!!
11.3.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrsKPru
Emily--Love it! Look delicious. :)

MrsKPru-- So happy it turned out for you (and it does taste better on day 2 so good work for planning ahead!).
11.3.2011 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Not a red wine drinker, but this looks like a perfect use for the red wine that occasions to find its way into our home. Delicious!
12.4.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg Gerrish
Hi! I'm planning to make this cake tonight, and I was wondering if the type of cocoa powder was crucial-- I have unsweetened and it's not dutch processed. Is this okay? Thank you so much, and I love this blog!
02.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline
Caroline-- Dutch processed is preferred, but unsweetened will do just fine (I've made it both ways).
02.28.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
You've made a cake that combines two of my favourite ingredients! Thank you so much, and I love this blog
03.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChocolate Wines
Hi, would I use the same measurements for a round pan or would I have to increase it? It's a 24cm round pan.
08.16.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna
Joanna-- The same measurements will work nicely for a 24 cm (9 inch) pan. There is no need to increase the amount of any of the ingredients.
08.16.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
If baking in a 9 inch round cake pan, would the baking time be the same?
01.9.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca
Rebecca-- The baking time may be a little less (anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes), so I'd check on it around then. That should be the only thing that changes!
01.9.2013 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Awesome! Thanks for the quick response Kristin. Going to make it this weekend for my sister's birthday...can't wait!
01.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca
This was absolutely delicious! I made it the other day and, once cooled, I wrapped it and let it sit for the following day. Large slices were delivered to several people and the consensus was "YUMM"! I did use a good chocolate and a nice wine. Although, I passed on the mascarpone/cream/honey (caloric reasons) I did suggest to all that a nice glass of their favorite red wine should be enjoyed along with this. The next time I make this I won't bake it for the 50 minutes but rather 40-45. Loved this!!
01.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBakerM
Perhaps it was mentioned somewhere along the way and I missed it, but what kind of wine did you use? Cab? Merlot? Chianti to go with the Tuscan inspiration? And would you say that the quality of the wine used is greatly important or would a Barefoot do the trick just as well as something pricier? Looking forward to making this for my upcoming Christmas party, it looks divine.
12.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterForrest
This recipe looks great! However, I don't have any mascarpone. Would a cream cheese or white chocolate frosting work well with the cake?
12.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWaves

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