You can call me a novelty baker. When it comes to firing up the oven for something sweet, I have neither the desire to master the basics, nor the interest to challenge myself with the classics. Chocolate chip cookies? Too generic. A croquembouche? Too much work. The only classic dessert I’ve made this year was the very French molleux au chocolat, resulting in something tasting only slightly better than a box mix and far worse than the specimen at the neighborhood patisserie. So I decided to let the professionals handle the tried and tested, while I go experimenting with the slightly strange recipes that call out to me. A cake made of pulverized clementines, skin, pips and all? I made it the moment clementine season arrived. And right now both avocado and persimmon cakes are vying for my attention.
But the very last cake I baked was a chocolate cake. A boring looking cake, slightly deflated looking with just a few “rustic looking” cracks on the surface.
But behold the secret ingredient, a full cup of Burgundian red wine left over from dinner! Actually, we were not that enthused about the wine itself, and wanted to see if we’d enjoy it more cooked. So I did, and the results did not turn out half bad at all! The alchemy between the cocoa powder, wine and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon created a cake that was chocolate-ly but with a spicy kick to it. The alcohol is not completely cooked so one catches a definite whiff of the wine, and when reheated the following days, the cake imparts a nice, very faint smell of yeast. With a very moderate butter and egg count, it’s relatively healthy too. And it keeps really well, so one can easily save a few slices for a slighty boozy breakfast the next day!
Recipe (adapted from smitten kitchen)
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (179 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk* (*which I omitted as I only had 1 egg left in the fridge)
3/4* cup (177 ml) red wine (*I used a whole cup, I had a lot of the wine left)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (I don’t have baking soda in the pantry, so I just upped the baking powder to 1 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325°F (~165°C). Grease a round cake pan. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy before adding the egg. Then pour in the red wine and vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and salt) together, then fold into the mix. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.