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Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes

by on August 20, 2010 · 12 comments

This recipe is the result of a late afternoon cupcake craving combined with my need to efficiently make use of some two day old Valoplicella, an Italian wine I sometimes buy just to mix things up a little. It’s not my favorite Italian wine, but it has a unique flavor that brings back good sense memories and makes me happy.

red wine cupcake

This recipe is kind of fun. It’s adapted from an old Food & Wine recipe by Kristen Donnelly and can be made with any kind of wine. The Valpolicella gave the cupcakes kind of a chocolate-sour cherry flavor which was good, and the aftertaste lingered which was positive or negative depending on how you look at things. You could call it a “long finish”, but I’m not sure that’s what one wants in a cupcake so a fruity merlot might be more appropriate for the cake. It’s fun to experiment, though.

For the icing, I was trying to come up with something that would match chocolate cherry or complement the flavor of Valpolicella somehow. I ended up using the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli cocoa can because really, what goes better with wine than chocolate? Okay, steak. I could have made steak frosting but didn’t think of that in time.

Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Chocolate cupcakes made with red wine
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4.5 oz)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or a little more wine if you really like the one you’re using.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Working in two batches, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and the wine, until just incorporated. Divide the batter between the cupcake cups and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely. The wine flavor mellows a bit upon standing, so I recommend eating these a few hours after you make them.
  4. Prepare frosting. Mix together the butter, cocoa powder, and sugar. Stir in the milk. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Frost the cupcakes.

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Published on August 20, 2010

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

The Blue-Eyed Bakers August 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Red wine?! In the cupcakes!? With the chocolate?! Oh my, you are a girl after our hearts….!

CindyD August 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Just for fun I googled steak frosting – and what came up was a link to today’s Cookie Madness!

Anna August 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I forgot to mention this in the post so I’ll mention it here since I’m enjoying the comments. These cupcakes smelled very interesting while baking. The wine gave off a really yeast smell. I thought it smelled like a doughnut shop. Fuzz just thought it smelled like wine. Todd came home and though it smelled like paint.

Betty @ scrambledhenfruit August 20, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Steak frosting? LOL! I’d have never thought to make cupcakes with wine, but it sounds interesting! I may try it when I have an opened bottle. Thanks!

Katrina August 20, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Jones Soda Co. (you know, all those funky flavored sodas, like Thanksgiving dinner, etc.) probably makes a Steak Soda, so you could use that in place of the wine!

Sue August 21, 2010 at 7:38 am

Olives, bread, and cheese all go well with wine. Maybe there’s a frosting flavor there? :-) I love your family’s sensory take on the cupcakes while they were baking!

Kim @ Two Good Cookies August 21, 2010 at 2:40 pm

You had me at red wine. And then you added cupcake? Luuuuuurve.

Karen August 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I’ve seen steak flavored potato chips. In fact, I bought them. They were really gross.

justJENN August 23, 2010 at 12:22 am

I read this post title and thought you got drunk while baking the cupcakes. Which would have been hilarious.

Shannon August 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I have an almost empty bottle of Malbec sitting on my counter right now. Didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but this may now be dessert later in the week.

Kenzie August 27, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I like cupcakes with long flavors :) I have been looking for a fun recipe to try with the Garden Club, and this looks perfect for a bunch of “wino’s”. I am excited to try it, the frosting looks divine!
Propane Burners

Ashley August 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I’ve never really thought about how different wines would effect baked goods! Interesting. These cupcakes sound really good.

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