I made this for a ladies’ wine night, and I considered posting it around Valentine’s Day, as its girly romanticism is obvious. However, after asking a work colleague if he would even like a red wine chocolate cake, I began to doubt my gender prejudices. This was our approximate conversation:
“Sorry, I only brought this one piece for Samantha. There’s more at home, I just thought…wait, would you even like red wine chocolate cake?”
After a small moment of consideration, he looked at me and said, “Well yeah.”
“Wait, even though it is like red wine and chocolate together?”
And he looked at me questioningly then I realized the stupidity of that question and wondered that it had taken this alcohol gender prejudice so long to come the the surface. Just because this is stereotypical American PMS/ladies’ wine night food does not mean boys can’t like a good bottle of red and a bar of dark chocolate. Together. Or as a cake.
Because let’s be real, you guys. This is red wine and chocolate. Together. In a cake. Did you even ever conceptualize of this? Had the thought even passed at a distance through the periferal of your consciousness? It hadn’t mine. I mean, whiskey cake, champagne cake, fine fine fine. It seems like those might mesh. But something in my mind says that cake is light/airy/sweet and that wine is dark/bitter/deep and that the two would clash like Beauty and the Beast. I thought the wine might overpower the cake experience.
And it might have done, were this an average yellow cake or some frou frou angel food cake. But when paired with some serious quality cocoa powder and a crumb as rich as a truffle, the red wine took this cake experience to heretofore unimaginable depths. It was riiiiich. Not exactly like a flourless cake, still spongy, but with an incredible amount of flavor and warmth.
And the best part: it’s dead simple. One layer, minimal technique and decorating skills required. I made it ahead of time, wrapped it, froze it, and took it out of the fridge morning-of.
I could actually taste the red wine and cinnamon more strongly three days later, possibly because I had been drinking actual red wine when I first tried it. The flavor and sharpness of the alcohol is subtle but noticeable. Next time, I might reduce the cinnamon by half. The cinnamon warmed up the wine flavor, but I thought it tasted a little too much like itself. You do you, cinnamon, just not in my red wine cake.
Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (145 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (sub 1 large egg yolk), at room temperature
3/4 cup (177 ml) red wine
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (41 grams) dark cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and spray the interior with a nonstick spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and heavy whipping cream and beat well, then add the red wine and vanilla. mixing until just blended. Dump in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a spoon. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with berries before serving. This cake froze well, and after I defrosted it, it kept covered for two days.