There are two things in life that are almost guaranteed to bring people together – wine and food. Whether it’s at drinks with colleagues on a Friday or dinner with friends on the weekend, the two things go hand in hand perfectly.
I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but generally when I think of wine and food my mind leaps to all things savoury – cheeses, crackers, chips, casseroles, BBQs… for some reason sweet things don’t come to mind, though I know there are countless dessert wines around.
With this in mind I decided to challenge myself a bit and incorporate wine into some baking. It took me a bit of thinking (and a little Friday night research!) to nut the recipe out, but it eventually came together – red wine and chocolate cupcakes!
The concept is simple – pack a moist chocolate cupcake with red wine and top with whipped chocolate icing. The alcohol in the cupcake evaporates during baking, leaving you with all the flavour of red wine without any of the usually ‘side effects’. The cocoa in the cupcakes rounds out the red wine flavour perfectly, while the whipped chocolate icing takes the edge off the wine – just like it does when you pair the two at the end of a long day.
The batter itself is simple to mix up – simple whip together the butter and sugars, add the eggs and then (of course!) the red wine! By this stage the mixture will be really runny and slightly odd looking – don’t panic, it’s just the way the wine reacts to the other ingredients.
Then add the flour and rising agents and mix until just combined, either by hand or with a mixture. Either way, keep an eye on it and don’t try and work out the lumps – you want it to be nice and lumpy looking! Fill your cases to ¾ full and pop in the oven; it’s as easy as that!
Once you have the cupcakes baked and cooling on wire racks, move on to getting the whipped chocolate icing ready. This is one of my favourite icing recipes – it’s not quite buttercream, not quite ganache, but the perfect in between! You don’t need to wait for the ganache to cool and thicken, but you don’t lose any of that natural chocolate flavour to excessive icing sugar – it’s totally rich and all around amazing. Bonus? Preparing it takes less than 10 minutes!
The finished cupcakes are absolutely beautiful – definitely one of my favourite creations to date. The red wine gives the cake a beautiful richness while ensuring it stays moist with a beautiful crumb – the cupcake is actually so good you could easily serve it up naked and I doubt anyone would grumble! But the whipped chocolate icing compliments the cake perfectly, setting off the chocolate in the cake and taking the cupcake from delicious to incredible.
I truly can’t speak highly enough about these cupcakes – I hope you like them as much as I do!
Makes approx. 36 cupcakes
- 1 cup cocoa
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 2 cups plain flour
- 170g butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups light muscovado sugar, packed
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups red wine
- 150g butter, softened
- 225g milk chocolate, chopped
- 1 – 1 ½ cups icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line three 12-hole cupcake pans with cases
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large bowl beat together butter and both sugars until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Add red wine and mix until well incorporated. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined – the mixture will look lumpy.
- Fill prepared cases ¾ with mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from pans and place on wire rack to cool completely before icing.
- Place chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt in 30 second bursts, mixing between each.
- Place butter in bowl and mix until smooth. Add 1 cup of sugar and mix until a dough forms.
- Add melted chocolate and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add remaining ½ cup of icing sugar as needed until desired consistency is reached.