Friends, it’s Memorial Day weekend, and in addition to honoring our fallen servicemen and -women, it means one other, very important thing: the school year is nearly over. If you work in a school setting, you know that students and staff alike can begin to taste the glorious summer days that are nearly within our grasp! I am a high school counselor by day, and let me tell you, it’s been a challenging year as students delve deeper into the college application madness and its associated stresses and anxieties. These final weeks can drive one to covet copious amounts of WINE and CHOCOLATE (not necessarily in that order). This all happens to coincide with National Wine Day– yes, that is a real thing. And so, it could not be a more appropriate time to make Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze from Baked Occasions for this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe! I’ve always been more of a white wine girl, but my husband’s penchant for beautiful Italian reds is slowly, but surely, rubbing off on me, so I was very curious to try these. Also, between layer cakes, icebox cakes, cookies, and rugelach of late, I can’t remember the last time I even made cupcakes, plus we haven’t worked with chocolate much in recent months for BSM, so there were all kinds of good reasons to make these this weekend!
The recipe recommends an Italian Super Tuscan or “intense” California cabernet; I’m guessing that something more subtle might not burst through the chocolate as much? I enlisted the help of said wine enthusiast husband and ended up with a 2012 Grafter Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, which I hoped would be bold enough to stand up to the chocolate. Make sure to use good-quality chocolate, as always with chocolate-centric recipes. I used Guittard 61% Lever du Soleil couverture wafers. I would likely use TCHO or Valrhona next time; I’ve gotten into the habit of not using my best chocolate when I make a recipe for the first time, but Guittard has been a solid high-qual option.
The cupcakes are made by whisking together heated wine with the aforementioned chocolate and cocoa powder, which will be a fairly thin mixture. While this cools, cream the butter and sugars (white and dark brown), then add an egg and one egg yolk, plus vanilla. Different than most cupcake recipes, you’ll then remove the mixer bowl and fold in alternating additions of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and the wine-chocolate mixture by hand with a spatula.
The batter will be fairly thick, yet it has a light texture, and it’ll be a light chocolaty color. The recipe says to fill the wells of your cupcake pan ¾ full and that these will not dome. However, there’s a note stating that if you heat the oven to 375°F, then turn it down to the prescribed 350°F baking temperature as soon the pan goes in the oven, the cupcakes will be slightly domed. So, a few notes about all of this:
- Fill the cupcakes liners no more than ⅔ full. Beyond that, they will spread slightly outwards for that unsightly flat muffin top situation.
- In the photo found in the book, the cupcakes look slightly sunken. I would not say that the cupcakes came out domed in any regard, but they didn’t sink at all either, so I think the temperature bump trick helped to at least keep them flat.
- The recipe is supposed to yield 18-20 cupcakes, but I easily got 2 dozen, with enough batter left over for a few more in addition.
The cupcakes came out a shade of lighter brown that expected, with “wrinkled” tops. You can definitely smell both the chocolate and wine while they’re baking! I was so intrigued to try these that I had to bust one open before glazing them; or maybe it would be more accurate to say that they were so fragile when warm that one cracked after just a little nudge to loosen it in the pan… so of course I had to chalk that up as a complete loss and eat it. I hate when that happens…. 😉
I used a darker chocolate for the glaze (Guittard 72% Coucher du Soleil couverture wafers), since the cupcakes themselves are not overly chocolaty. (I would use darker chocolate in the cupcakes next time too.) The glaze is made by simply heating cream and pouring it over the chocolate and a bit of corn syrup, then whisking until combined. The recipe says to dip the cupcakes, which I was a little apprehensive to do, given the soft texture, but since I glazed them the following morning, they had firmed up just fine and I had no dipping issues.
Since I ended up with 2 dozen, I wasn’t sure if there would be enough glaze, so I made a 1½ batch– because skimpy chocolate is not an option. In fact, there was plenty of glaze, so what’s a girl to do? DOUBLE-DIP, obviously. I dipped the cupcakes generously, popped them in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes so the first coat would firm up, then re-dipped for a really thick ganache layer before applying white sprinkles à la Hostess Cupcakes. This also helps to smooth out the chocolate on the wrinkly cupcake surface.
The cupcakes are quite delicious! I wondered whether the wine flavor would fade during baking, but it’s very much present. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi flavor note in there, which might not be immediately apparent, but once you know it’s wine, you realize how awesome they are! I wouldn’t say that they rival a great traditional chocolate cupcake per se, but there’s definitely room in the dessert realm for these. I would, however, bump up the chocolate factor by using darker chocolate. And if you’re sharing with red wine fans? Oh, yes. (By the way, people will assume these are just like Hostess cupcakes, so you may want to let them know that they’re actually a grown-up version…)
Any time you need to celebrate or really, any time you just feel like shamelessly stuffing your face with chocolate and wine, these are for you. The recipe for Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze can be found at Baked Sunday Mornings, and please also check out the other bakers’ drunk cupcakes! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2015.