Dining and Drink

Whisk Recipe: Chocolate Merlot Cake

This cake's secret ingredient? Red wine.

I love the holidays. Not only is there a crisp coolness in the air, but it's filled with a festive spirit.

The holidays for me are about celebrations, my family, food and more food. And we can't forget dessert. Every year I try to up the ante and bake something fabulous.

For me, amazing meals become more memorable when you end them with an unforgettable dessert. And this is it, my friends. This chocolate Merlot cake is rich, moist, fudgy and chocolaty, with a subtle hint of Merlot. Chocolate cake and red wine. Could there be anything better?

After testing this cake numerous times, I finally landed on a recipe that is absolutely delicious. The wine enhances this cake in all the right ways. And I put some wine in the frosting, too, for good measure.

I picked up some pine cones from Target and made some sugared cranberries to fancy it up, but you can absolutely just frost the cake and serve it.

Happy Holidays!

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup applesauce
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup Merlot

Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 to 6 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup Merlot

INSTRUCTIONS
Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prep three 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper on the bottom and nonstick baking spray. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter on low. Add in sugar and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and then add in vanilla and applesauce and continue beating for another 1 to 2 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. By hand using a rubber spatula, fold in one-third of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and then pour in a third of the Merlot. Fold ingredients together until just combined. Continue this process two more times, alternating folding in the flour mixture and the wine into the cake batter.

3. Pour cake batter evenly into the three prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for about 20 minutes.

Frosting:
1. Cream together the butter, cocoa and vanilla at medium speed for a few minutes. Add in confectioners' sugar one cup at a time, and pour in a little Merlot; mix together until smooth. Repeat until you have a smooth consistency.

2. Level each cake and frost, stacking the cakes and putting a thin layer of frosting in between each layer. There should be enough frosting for a crumb coat and an outer layer of frosting. Slice, serve and enjoy.


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