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Week 47: Red Wine Chocolate Cake

December 27, 2012 by Nina Spezzaferro

finished red wine cake

I was supposed to make a red wine chocolate cake a long, long time ago. I originally planned to make it for Valentine’s Day and I injured myself in the process. But I bravely returned to the recipe I hoped to use 10 months ago. Smitten Kitchen Deb’s red wine chocolate cake recipe is accompanied by a very sweet story about her lack of a 9/11 story, which is actually a lovely “story” if you ask me.

There’s an episode of The Sopranos in which Carmela is sitting in front of her lit Christmas tree, sipping a glass of red wine. Her daughter Meadow asks, “What are you doing?” And Carmela replies, “I’m just enjoying the tree.” And there’s a lot of enjoyment that comes out of sitting and looking at the Christmas tree. A lot of work goes into putting it up or chopping it down or whatever you do, and hanging ornaments collected over the course of the years. What a lovely idea to sip wine in front of the tree! Red wine is my drink of choice and I particularly enjoy it this time of year when the weather gets cold and Christmas parties and gatherings abound. And why not bake it into a cake?

I was following the Smitten Kitchen recipe to the letter, using this red wine that I had on hand and already had an opened bottle of.

wine bottle

Here’s my mise en place.

red wine chocolate miseFirst I creamed the room temperature butter.

creamed butter

Then I beat it with the brown and white sugars until fluffy.

butter with sugars


Next I added 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk, then the red wine and vanilla and mixed till combined. This is when it got messy. My hand mixer started slopping around wine drops all over the kitchen. Eeek! So I switched to hand mixing with a rubber spatula before sifting in the dry ingredients.


sifting dry ingredients

I mixed it all up and poured the batter into a greased, parchment lined 8″ round cake pan. I was using a bake even strip as well, but it’s not pictured here.

cake batter in pan

The directions said for the cake to bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. It took about 30 minutes of baking for the center of the cake to spring back to the touch. When I removed the cake from the pan so it could cool completely on a wire rack, I noticed the edges looked a little… burned.

cooling cake

Once the cake was cooled, I covered it under a cake dome and let it sit overnight. The next day I prepared the whipped topping.

cream ingredients

And I coated the top of the cake with a sifting of powdered sugar.

finished red wine cake

The recipe suggests topping each cake slice with a dollop of topping as opposed to spreading it on top of the whole cake.

red wine chocolate cake slice

The cake tasted dry. It didn’t taste burned, per se. It could have been that I baked the cake too long. Maybe the wine I used was too dry. Who knows? The best thing about it was the mascarpone topping. That one’s a keeper.

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