chocolate red wine cake with red wine glaze

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This is a cake that’s  dark, fudgy, and moist throughout. The red wine was most pronounced in the raw batter–I scooped the leftovers out of the bowl with my finger. Yum. Because of baking, the red wine taste disappeared. Spooned on a slice of the cake, the red wine glaze, a tart garnet-colored sauce, played against the sweetness of the chocolate cake in a very satisfying way.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake (adapted from Food and Wine Magazine and Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:
Cake
1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder to grease and flour 1 small bundt pan and 1 7-inch springform pan
260g (2 cups) cake flour
66 g (3/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (no substitution; see Cake Baker’s Note)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
227g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
394g (1 3/4 cups) superfine sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
Red Wine glaze
28g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup red wine
125g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Crème fraîche or whipped cream, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350˚F or 180˚C. Butter the inside of the pans, making sure to get into the crevices. Add 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder to each pan and swirl it about inside the pan.  Tap out the excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer. Working in two batches, to the butter mixture add half the flour mixture, all the wine, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat between additions until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top so that the batter gets into all the crevices. Then tap the pan on the counter-top to dislodge air bubbles. Then bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely.

To prepare the glaze, combine the butter, wine, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Set aside until ready to serve.

Dust thoroughly cooled cake lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Slice cake and drizzle each slice with glaze. Serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream, if desired.

Cake Baker’s Note: Now that I live in Thailand, both American and European cocoa powders are available, with Hershey’s being more expensive than Van Houten’s. I decided to research the difference between the two cocoas. Food and Wine recommend using an American brand cocoa powder such as Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, or Scharffen Berger in this recipe. Unprocessed or natural cocoa powder is lighter in color than the darker Dutch processed cocoa (Joy the Baker). Because processed cocoa powder’s acidity has been neutralized, it needs baking powder.  So if a recipe doesn’t specify what kind of cocoa to use, look for the baking powder and baking soda in the list of ingredients. However, this isn’t always a hard and fast rule, I have discovered. The recipe called One Bowl Chocolate Cake from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook uses both baking powder and baking soda, with baking powder being the larger amount. Since this is an American recipe I have always used Hershey’s without thinking twice. I did notice though, that Claiborne’s chocolate cake is lighter in color than the chocolate red wine cake. Perhaps it has something to do with the baking powder? I need to do more research!

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my baking therapy: chocolate bundt cake with rum

The Fourth of July was my day for baking therapy. I should have done something red, white, and blue, but I wanted to do something rich, dark, and sensual with chocolate.  This cake came out dense and moist and very dark. And because of the rum syrup, it had a slight tangy flavor. Its texture so reminded me of the steamed pudding fruit cakes we love to eat at Christmas-time in Jamaica. Naturally, I watched my favorite movie Chocolat while I was baking; there is something magical about chocolate that sweetens the mood and raises the spirit.

Rich Chocolate Bundt Cake with Rum (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients
For the Cake
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used unsweetened chocolate)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sour cream, room temperature (I used half sour cream, half Greek plain nonfat yogurt)
1 tablespoon vanilla
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
2 cups packed (14 oz) light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature

For the Rum Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
2 tablespoons water.

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder to the melted butter or add 1 tablespoon flour. Mix well. Using a pastry brush, brush the inside of a 12-cup bundt pan with the butter mixture. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

3. Boil a cup of water. In another large bowl, combine the cocoa, chocolate, and instant espresso. Do not mix. Measure 3/4 cup of boiling water and pour over the top of the chocolate mixture. Cover and let stand 5 minutes until the chocolate is melted. Whisk the mixture smooth and set aside to cool. When cool, whisk in the sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.

Cake Baker’s Note: To chop chocolate, set the block of chocolate on a sheet of waxed paper. Using a serrated knife, thinly shave a corner of the block with a downward motion. Turn the block to shave another corner. Pick up the corners of the waxed paper and tip the shavings into a cup to measure 6 oz or 3/4 cup.

4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 1 minute. (The batter may look curdled.)

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining chocolate mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.

6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Wipe any drips of batter off the sides of the pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter.

7. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 50-60 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.

8. Remove the cake from the oven. Let the cake cool in the pan 10 minutes then turn it out on a wire rack. Mix the ingredients for rum syrup in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Set the cake on the cooling rack over a large rimmed baking sheet. While the cake is still warm brush with the rum syrup. Cool the cake completely before serving.