Monday, February 11, 2013

Mulled Wine Chocolate Cake

Oh my! This is a good chocolate cake. This is a seriously good chocolate cake. It’s dark and chocolaty like a chocolate cake should be. It’s also, however, laced with the richness of red wine. Really! Red wine in a chocolate cake. Oh, this is so good!

This cake is pleasantly moist in texture. It’s slightly dense, but doesn’t go all the way to brownie. It’s rich enough to satisfy with just a small piece (you know, if you’re actually sticking to some of those New Year’s resolutions). It’s also not so rich that you can’t eat the whole cake in one sitting, erm, have a second piece if you like. It doesn’t need any frosting, but just a dollop, okay, so I used a squirt, of whipped cream is nice. A dusting of powdered sugar is all the prettying up it needs.

I made this into sort of a mulled wine cake by adding some warm spices. You could leave them out, I suppose, but I highly recommend adding at least a pinch or two of cinnamon. I just added the spices with the dry mixture rather than taking any time to actually infuse the wine, but if you happen to have some mulled wine on hand, you could probably save yourself the time of measuring out spices and use that instead.

The spices are subtle in the end result, but add something special that I really loved. The flavor of the red wine is significantly less subtle. You’ll definitely know it’s there, so I recommend using one you actually like to drink. I used some leftover Malbec, but I think Cabernet or Shiraz would be great, too. This pleasantly bitter dark chocolate milieu is really a place for dry red wines, but I don’t mind admitting that I’d like to know how things would go with a sweet red wine, or a cherry wine.

This is a great cake for a lovely Valentine’s Day dessert, not the least reason being that it’s relatively quick to put together. Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the week, after all. It’s also a good use for a bit of that nice red wine you have with your romantic dinner. You know, since you’re not going to drink the whole bottle. Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the week, after all.

And lest you might think I’d leave you behind if you’re dead set against all that romantic holiday boloney, this cake is for you, too. It’s dark and slightly bitter, just bitter enough to support an anti-Valentine protest. And then, if you use a little bit of that bottle of red wine you were going to drink, also in protest, at least you can truthfully say that you didn’t drink the whole bottle.


Mulled Wine Chocolate Cake
Adapted from the blog smitten kitchen

Since there’s just a small measure of each of the spices in the cake, save yourself some trouble by using what you already have on hand rather than doing any extra shopping just to make this.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup dry red wine (use what you like)

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Spray the pan well with cooking spray or grease it well with butter or oil. Set aside.

2. Combine the flour, espresso powder, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium-size bowl. Whisk or sift together until well combined. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer (or in a medium-size bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), using the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the brown sugar and white sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until very smooth.

4. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until well-combined. Add half of the red wine and beat until well combined. Repeat with 1/3 more of the flour mixture and the rest of the red wine. Scrape the bowl and paddle attachment well. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until smooth.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly. Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack.

6. Cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan by flipping it onto the cooling rack. I think the slightly rounded top looks best so I flip the cake one more time so that surface is on top. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Serve with a bit of whipped cream.

Makes a 9-inch round cake, about 8-12 servings.

Other recipes like this one: Peppermint Brownie Pie, Grapefruit Scented Muffins with Warm Spices        

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