A couple of months ago, my friends at Avalon Winery asked me to come up with a recipe to promote their new cooking contest for this year. If you’ll remember, they sent me to the Charleston Food & Wine Festival last year to compete in their America’s Greatest Foods Recipe Challenge. I didn’t win, I came in last actually (hey, some people can’t handle the idea of fish served with red, even when chorizo is involved – what are you going to do?) but after that trip – visiting the city of Charleston for the first time, meeting such influential chefs like The Lee Brothers and the great Art Smith (he asked me where to get a cup of coffee, y’all – and then he went to that coffee shop the whole time he was in town!), getting drunk with Kelly Liken, and making some new friends… I came out a winner in the end anyway!
So when they offered to send me a few bottles of their delicious Cabernet Sauvignon to develop a recipe with, of course I jumped at the offer. Guys, it’s seriously one of the best reds you’ll find for the price point. For under $10 a bottle, it really can’t be beat. Rich and fruity, with all kinds of delicious berry notes going on. Rolls right off the tongue, with very few harsh tannins that tend to come along with red wines. It’s available nationally, I always have luck finding it at Whole Foods (if your Whole Foods carries wine that is!). But, if you can’t find it – definitely ask your local wine distributor to carry it. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!
I ended up making two dishes with the bottle I opened…since I can’t do much drinking of the stuff at the moment due to baby #3. The first of which was more traditional, and I plan to share with you guys soon – then there were these cupcakes. Red wine and chocolate pair so well together anyways, I thought a cupcake wasn’t too far of a fetch. Boy, do I love being right!
The batter was absolutely beautiful…light and fluffy, and baked up gorgeous! For the frosting I went the traditional route, used my simple vanilla buttercream with a bit of the wine added to it for flavor and a tint of color. It was definitely unlike any cupcake I’d had before, but still absolutely delicious. I loved how the acidity of the wine cut the sweetness of the frosting. And, of course the color was lovely!
These cupcakes would most definitely be perfect for your Valentine, and they’re something different that friends and family probably haven’t seen before – but will most certainly be intrigued by. I hope you guys enjoy, and a big thanks to Avalon for giving me an excuse to make them!
Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes
8 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Then add in the egg and egg yolk, as well as the vanilla, beat well until combined.
Add in 1/2 of the dry ingredients, followed by the wine, then the remainder of the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl if necessary.
Divide batter evenly into lined muffin pan. Bake for 18 minutes then remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
In the meantime, to make the frosting, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar, as well as the wine and vanilla. Beat until no lumps remain. Frost cupcakes as desired.
Source: cake adapted from Smitten Kitchen