The Little Epicurean

Feb 03 2016

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EntertainAndPair #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake #ad

Wine and cheese pairing is so trite. Delicious, but overplayed. This Valentine’s Day, skip the cheese and focus on the chocolate!  I absolutely love pairing red wines with chocolate. They make for such a fun party. The berry flavors of red wines mixes so well with the rich, sweet, and slightly bitter notes of dark chocolate. This pairing translates perfectly into this decadent and sinful red wine chocolate cake.

Wine chocolate cake?! You read that correctly. The cake batter is mixed with red wine, after baking, the cake layers are then lightly soaked with a red wine simple syrup. After assembly, red wine chocolate cake is incredible when shared with friends over a glass of … (you guessed it!) red wine. (It’s just as tasty should you choose it eat it solo, but it’s so much more fun observing others’ reaction when they realize this cake has wine in it.)

Red Wine Chocolate Cake #ad

Having lived in California almost all life, I am very fond of California products. The most delicious being California wines. I attended culinary school in Napa (yay, CIA!) and I have many memories associated with Napa Valley’s wine country. While I was living up north, I made it a mission to sample as much wine as possible. Even here in Los Angeles, I try to grab a new bottle of wine whenever there’s an occasion. I was really excited to try the red wine varieties of The Dreaming Tree. The name alone is enough to entice me. But what really drew me to The Dreaming Tree is their conscious sustainable efforts. The glass bottles are a quarter pound lighter than the average wine bottle, the labels are made with 100% recycled paper, and the natural corks are recyclable. And of course, the wines are spot on- just what I would expect from a California wine.

For this red wine chocolate cake recipe, I suggest using The Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon or Crush (red blend). The juicy mixed berry flavors of Crush and the soft toasted vanilla notes of the Cabernet is chocolate’s other half.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

I combined the leftover Crush wine with simple syrup to create a boozy sweet soaking syrup for the cake layers. This adds a nice pop of flavor, while also helping to keep the cake moist.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

This recipe makes three 6-inch cake round layers. As you can see from the photo, the layers are fairly thick. You can also use 8-inch cake rounds to thin out the cake layers without altering the recipe.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

I think there is something so intriguing about the “naked cake” look. You get just enough frosting on the outside to lightly sweetened the cake, while allowing the cake to peek through.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Red Wine Chocolate Cake #ad

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, might as well push the boundaries and make this cake as decadent as possible. I drizzled caramel sauce on top of the assembled cake.

Come any holiday or celebration, friends and family know I’m bringing cake. This sweet and intriguing red wine chocolate cake is sure to be a hit this Galentine’s and Valentine’s Day!

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Be sure to check out your local retailer for wine tasting demos. Also, stop by The Dreaming Tree’s Facebook page for additional wine pairing inspirations! Cheers!

Print Recipe

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Yield: 6-inch cake (or 8-in cake)


Red Wine Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp expresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/3 cup The Dreaming Tree 2013 Crush (Red Blend)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature

Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2.5 oz 70% dark chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
  • caramel sauce, homemade or store-bought, as needed

Red Wine Soaking Syrup:


Red Wine Chocolate Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease three 6-inch cake rounds and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix until combined. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Whisk in espresso powder and salt. Set aside. In a large glass, combine red wine with milk. Set aside.
  5. Add flour mixture to mixing bowl in three additions, alternating with liquids. Begin and end with flour mixture. Mix until well incorporated.
  6. Divide batter evenly among the three prepared cake pans. Level batter using a mini offset spatula, or the back of a spoon. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes, then run a mini offset spatula around the cake and unmold. Let cake cool to room temperature on wire rack before assembling.

Chocolate Buttercream:

  1. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter. Add confectioners' sugar and salt. Mix until smooth. Add cooled melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Increase speed and continue to mix until buttercream is fluffy.


  1. Combine red wine and simple syrup to create soaking syrup. Set aside.
  2. Fit a decorating bag (piping bag) with a medium round tip. Fill the bag with chocolate buttercream. Set aside.
  3. If necessary, level cake layers. Place on cake round on cake turntable or cake stand. Using a pastry brush, lightly soak cake layer with wine syrup.
  4. Pipe a spiral of buttercream over cake layer. Spread into an even layer with a mini offset spatula. Repeat adding wine syrup and buttercream with remaining two cake layers.
  5. Pipe buttercream at random intervals around the cake. Use an offset spatula to create a "crumb coat" layer to seal in any crumbs. Chill cake in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to set frosting. If you don't like the "naked cake" look, add another coat of buttercream to fully cover the cake layers. Chill for another 15 minutes to set buttercream.
  6. Spoon caramel sauce over chilled cake, allowing caramel to drip along the edges of the cake. Serve immediately.

*Note: To make simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer until sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature and keep chilled until ready to use. 

6-inch cake rounds produces the thick cake layers photographed here. You can use 8-inch cake rounds if you would like thinner layers without altering the recipe. 

The Little Epicurean

Red Wine Chocolate Cake


13 Responses to “Red Wine Chocolate Cake”

  1. February 3, 2016
    9:33 am
    Ginny McMeans says...

    What an absolutely amazing cake! Love the red wine in your syrup too. Thanks so much!

  2. February 3, 2016
    10:06 am

    Oh my goodness! Wine and chocolate, all in a cake?! YES, PLEASE! Love this so much!

  3. February 3, 2016
    10:17 am

    This cake looks stunning. If I had a boo I’d make it for her on V-day! Maybe I should just put a picture of this cake on OKCupid and say come have this cake with me on v-day!

    • Maryanne Cabrera replied...

      Thanks Matthew. Ha! You’ll definitely get some response from posting a cake on OKCupid! ;)

  4. February 3, 2016
    4:25 pm

    Love the pictures! It looks yummy!

  5. February 3, 2016
    5:29 pm

    Oh my gosh. That is an absolutely GORGEOUS cake. Nicely done!

  6. February 3, 2016
    8:15 pm
    Kelly says...

    I’m convinced everything is better with wine added to it! This looks so amazing, I may try (and butcher) this recipe but I’ll still try! #client

  7. February 3, 2016
    9:57 pm

    What a beautiful and TALL cake. Looks devine.

  8. February 4, 2016
    5:01 am

    That is one gorgeous cake! I would have never thought to use red wine to bake with but it looks and sounds absolutely divine! And red wine simple syrup…yes please!

  9. February 5, 2016
    5:34 am
    Kelly says...

    This cake is stunning, Maryanne! I love the red wine! This is the ultimate treat!

  10. February 6, 2016
    1:36 pm

    Now that is a romantic cake! Chocolate + red wine is a perfect pairing, I imagine it goes well with caramel too :)

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