Simple chocolate-red wine cake.

In my estimation, this wine-infused chocolate cake is about as perfect as a dessert can be: deeply flavored, not too sweet, moist, very simple to make. Perfect, right?

I spotted a photo of this chocolate-red wine cake recently via social media (the recipe is from Food & Wine; it originally appeared in Anne Willan’s “Cooking with Wine”), and immediately took two sticks of unsalted butter out of the freezer to soften. My anticipation was rewarded: Truly, this cake is a snap to put together, it stores well and would be an ideal dessert for a dinner party.

I made a couple of notable alterations to the recipe and was pleased with the result. First, I opted for a fruity shiraz instead of the dry red wine called for. I love a glass of shiraz or zinfandel with a piece of really good chocolate to end a meal, and so I figured the wine’s berry flavors and the bittersweet cocoa would pair nicely. Second, I reduce the sugar called for by quite a bit, assuming the wine’s fruit would add plenty of sweetness. Two other bits of advice: Use good cocoa (I used Ghirardelli) and, as always, cook with a wine that’s good enough to drink (no plonk, please). If you prefer a dry, earthy red, then you may want to revert to the Food & Wine recipe with the full quantity of sugar.

chocolate red-wine cake recipe

(adapted from Food & Wine)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch-processed)
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup red wine
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard (12-cup) bundt or tube pan. Sift together into a bowl the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and a handheld mixer), mix the butter on medium speed until smooth, then add sugar and beat on medium until very light and fluffy (3 or 4 minutes should do it). Add one egg and mix to blend completely, then add the second egg and blend. Add vanilla and mix to blend. Add one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed to incorporate. Add half the wine and mix to incorporate. Repeat, adding one-third of the flour, then the rest of the wine, then the last of the flour, blending just to incorporate the dry and liquid ingredients. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan; use a spatula to smooth the top and rap the pan firmly on the counter a couple of times to settle the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out completely clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes or so, then run an offset spatula around the perimeter to loosen. Invert onto a plate, then invert again so the cake is right-side up. Dust with powdered sugar.

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11 thoughts on “Simple chocolate-red wine cake.

  1. I love, love this recipe and used it in several different pans. My favorite way was in a silicon brownie bite pan. It made the cutest little bit size cake bites and drizzled them with white chocolate, they bake up really quick thou, so be sure to watch them closely or they will dry out. If you are using a glass pan, cut the bake time by 5-8 minutes. The largest pan I used is close to a 9×13, maybe a tad smaller and it baked just fine, again just watch closely it toward the end of baking. I found that cutting the bake time in any pan by a few minutes really helped the cake hold a moist texture. Have fun with it!

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  3. Bryn, I made this today for a BBQ tomorrow and it’s so easy and delicious! I had one little moment of panic when I accidentally spilled some of the batter out the bottom of the bundt pan as I put it in the oven (Charlie got a bit!) but I regrouped and put it in another pan and it seems to have come out fine. This is my new staple to bring when I visit!

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  6. I have shared this cake with five friends and we are all considering renting a bus to drive to Cincinnati to kiss Bryn for it. I am going to add a pinch of cayenne or ancho pepper to the next batch and bring it to a Chili Cook Off this weekend. I will let you know how it turns out.

    • Yay, Matt! I love the idea of adding a hit of spice to this great chocolate cake recipe — let me know how it turns out for you!

  7. This cake is everything! I made it last week , ahead of time and froze. Of course the powdered sugar did not do it for me so I made a chocolate red wine glaze for it…simply divine. One of my new favorites, everyone loved it. Can’t wait to make it again!