By The Gentleman
Last weekend The Lady went on a trip to Melbourne to visit a friend of ours. Her weekend was filled with cake, coffee, and cocktails. All the essentials in life. Upon returning, I was fearful that she may be in cocktail/coffee/cake withdrawal so I baked her a welcome home present. May I present to you – The Red Wine Chocolate Cake!
Props go to the very talented people at Smitten Kitchen for providing the inspiration for this recipe, which I made a little extra boozy and indulgent because that’s what we do at The Cocktail Challenge.
Red Wine Chocolate Cake
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 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup + a good splash extra, I used Innocent Bystander Syrah
2 teaspoon Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch 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 160°C. Grease and line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment. This is a one bowl recipe so grab a large bowl and on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the egg and yolk and beat well with the electric mixer, then add the red wine and the chocolate bitters. The batter takes on a lovely purple colour at this stage and may look a little uneven, but that’s alright. Next you’re going to sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. On a low setting mix the mixture until it is 3/4 combined, then grab a spatula and fold the rest together. At this stage I tasted it and decided to add a splash of extra wine. The mixture isn’t too wet so it can take the extra liquid. Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth when it’s done. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.
300ml Thickened Cream
1 teaspoon Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1 teaspoon Mörk Dark Chocolate and River Salt Cacao Powder
Whip your cream. I showed off and did it in a mason jar. No going to the gym for me. Once your cream is pretty whipped, add in the bitters and cacao powder, and whip a little bit more to incorporate. You could maybe add a little bit more of either, but I think the cream was delicious as it was. It had a fantastic flavour, which wasn’t too sweet so it paired well with the cake and didn’t make things too intense. The bitters give it a spice flavour that has a bit of a kick and the cacao powder provides that chocolate flavour, but with the bitterness again making it very tasty without being sickly. You can definitely dollop a big spoonful of this cream on your cake and not worry too much (well maybe you should worry about your waistline, but ain’t nobody got time for that when cream and cake are around). The leftover cream is also amazing added to a Mörk hot chocolate or to flavour your coffee.
The cake doesn’t really rise and it ends up being a low cake, which feels very much like a dessert cake. Really you can eat cake anytime, and you should, but some cakes just gravitate towards a certain time of day. The mix of wine and bitters also lend it to being an after dinner cake, a fine way to finish off an enjoyable evening. Adding the bitters was a last minute but rather amazing move. We had run out of vanilla essence and I was going to add some brandy or the like instead but then I remembered the bitters I had got from a friend. Chocolate bitters for a chocolate cake, perfect. The bitters just enhanced the flavour and smell so much. Instead of just being chocolate there was a depth to the aroma, a whole host of spices coming out to play. That depth carried over to the flavour, which was so nice. A wonderful blend of spices and chocolate that wasn’t too sweet and really invited you to eat more. In the Smitten Kitchen article they said the wine doesn’t completely cook out. I couldn’t taste booze per se, but some of the fruity flavour of the red wine was there. The red wine also helped make the cake very moist, and deliciously dense. Next time I’d like to really use my Mörk cacao powder in the cake as well. They may scold me for not using it for hot chocolate, which is devine by the way, but the Mörk powder has such a wonderfully deep, dark, and bitter flavour that I think would really add to this already amazing cake.
Slathered with the chocolate cream this is one fine dessert that is perfect for impressing that special someone. The Lady was certainly happy to see it on the counter when she got home and for a moment she forgot all about her wonderful time in Melbourne and was glad to be home. Good cake will do that to you.