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.
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.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.
- Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.