Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes
Has anyone else been in a funk since March began? I don’t know if I’m craving warmer weather and more sunshine, but boy have I been in a mood these past couple of weeks. I’ve been binge watching Suits (boy did I go to work at the wrong law firm!), reading way too many depressing books (though A Gentleman in Moscow is fabulous and I highly recommend it) and eating my body weight in Phish Food (good thing I’m small otherwise I’d be in real trouble). Aside from all of that sitting, I’ve been tinkering in the kitchen, too!
Over the years, chocolate and wine has gotten a bad reputation. Mix the wrong wine or chocolate together and you run the risk of having a mouthful of bitter flavors, one ingredient trying to overpower the other. One thing I’ve learned with plenty of trial and error is using quality chocolate, such as valrhona, and semi-decent wine (not two-buck chuck or box wine).
These cupcakes are a prime example of why you absolutely need to use high quality ingredients. When I made these cupcakes for the first time, I used plain old Hershey’s Cocoa powder and a bottle of wine a client gave me and damn, what a waste in both chocolate and wine. Never one to give up, I began experimenting with other brands of chocolate and wine I trusted.
There is nearly a cup of red wine in these chocolate cupcakes and let me tell you: these are truly indulgent cupcakes loved by adults and perfect for special occasions when you don’t want to make a big fuss or have a lot of time to spend baking a dessert. I recommend doubling this recipe and freezing half of the cooked cupcakes for another use (they will stay fresh for three months in the freezer when properly stored.)
I used cabernet sauvignon, but if you have a bottle of port lying around it’ll work just as nicely. I wouldn’t use Pinot Noir or a red wine blend that’s not composed of merlot-cabernet sauvignon or you’ll risk having muddy flavors, which obviously don’t taste very good. The dried cherries in this recipe are why you need to have a quality red wine, they’re somewhat sweet, but more on the tart side, so if you use a wine that’s sweeter in flavor you’re going to be overwhelmed by bitter flavors. The wine is essential to the success in this recipe.
For these cupcakes, I recommend using regular cocoa powder the first time you make this recipe. As you lean more about the way wine cooks, particularly how it cooks in desserts, you’ll eventually become comfortable and evolve into using dark chocolate powder.
If you’re looking for sweet chocolate cupcakes, this isn’t the recipe you’re looking for. These cupcakes are dense and rich in flavor, however. Kids will hate them, adults will love them. Especially when they bite into the center of one and find the cherries buried within them.
Ingredients for Red Wine Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 quality red wine
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped and set aside
- Preheat over to 350º and prepare muffin pan with liners.
- Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer over medium speed, mix the oil, vanilla, eggs and wine. Add the dry ingredients until they are fully combined, scraping the sides down periodically. Add the dried cherries to mixer and mix by hand, careful not to over-mix the batter and cherries.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.
- To decorate, add a dollop of whipped cream onto the center of each cupcake, ensuring they’re completely cooled. Add a couple of pieces of dried fruit and a light dusting of cocoa powder or even cinnamon.