As you may have gathered, I have a love for cupcakes that knows few bounds. Some of my earliest experiments in baking were cupcakes. And why not, right? They come together quickly, there’s no leveling of layers and hassling with stacking necessary and best of all, they’re easy to share! What’s not to love?
But wait, it gets better…
And how do you make a standard chocolate cupcake even better, you ask? You add some wine. That’s right, wine.
I had heard of red wine cupcakes before, but I had yet to find a recipe I loved. So, as I occasionally do when I struggle to find exactly what I want, I turned my search over to the algorithms over at Google. The search did not disappoint: there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of red wine cupcake recipes out there. After some browsing, I stumbled upon a cupcake that lived up to my demands: A Cabernet Chocolate Cupcake with Dark Chocolate Ganache at the Adventures in Cupcakes blog (which no longer appears to be publishing new material, but which had a nice array of recipes to share). She had taken the cupcake recipe from a blog at iVillage, but had replaced their suggested whipped cream topping with a rich, bittersweet chocolate ganache, a change that I too preferred. Since I planned on sharing my creations with others, I wanted a more portable, less perishable cupcake, meaning whipped cream was out and ganache was most definitely in. Plus, this recipe calls for dried cherries, a personal weakness of mine. Chocolate. Wine. Cherries. This was a match made in culinary heaven.
The cupcakes came together fairly effortlessly. There are only 5 simple steps needed to make the cupcake base, and the ganache is one of the simplest I’ve ever made. I did make a tiny change in the ganache recipe by adding a splash of red wine, just to add a hint of the cabernet flavor to the topping.
I will note that the cupcakes are a tiny bit dry, a problem I cannot quite figure out how to solve yet, but if I do, I’ll be sure to write a follow-up post. The ganache does make quite a bit more than I found I could use for one batch of cupcakes, but if you baked another half batch of cupcakes this problem could easily be solved. Or, you know, you could eat it with a spoon. Whatever you see fit.
The outcome: delightful. The cupcakes have a nice, bittersweet flavor of chocolate with hints of wine, but neither ingredient overpowers the other. The dried cherries add a bit of sweetness without making the cake overly sweet, exactly what I was looking for in this cake. For a red wine cake, I expect a little less sweetness in the flavor, but for those of you who like your cake to be extra sweet, stay tuned for my experiments with white wine and champagne cupcakes coming soon!
Chocolate Cabernet Cupcakes
Yields approximately 12-16 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cabernet sauvignon
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 C half-and-half
2 T unsalted butter
Splash of red wine (Optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake tin with paper baking cups. (If you’re feeling adventurous, or just ran out of baking cups like I did, you can also fold squares of parchment paper to fit your cups. It takes a bit of trial and error, but it can be done!)
2. in a large bowl (if you’ll be using a hand mixer) or the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder.
3. Add the oil, vanilla, eggs and wine.
4. Beat with the electric mixer at low speed for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer speed to high and continue beating for three minutes, scraping the sides occasionally.
5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the dried cherries with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For the ganache, place chocolate (and wine, if desired) in a medium stainless steel bowl. Heat cream and butter in saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil, being careful not to let the cream scald. Immediately pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.