Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Experimentalism: chocolate and red wine cupcakes

on October 2, 2011

I wasn’t going to blog about these. I really wasn’t sure about them myself. I was unconvinced they worked as a concept. But I made them for work, and having been inundated with comments on their deliciousness by colleagues, I changed my mind and thought I would after all!

I understand the appeal – two excellent ingredients in a cupcake – what more could you ask for?! But if you think about it logically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. For starters the alcohol in the cake is evaporated by cooking and you can’t really taste it because the chocolate overpowers it. So you think, that the taste in the icing would make up for it. Except, its buttercream – which means the wine caused the butter to curdle! But I was tired and had made the icing, so I just stuck it on the cakes, left them to dry out a bit overnight, and took them to work the next morning! Thankfully the sheer quantities of icing sugar in the icing meant that the icing still tastes good – albeit very sweet. But then I’m not really a fan of buttercream icing. So I’m not sure why I made it, other than it was in the recipe and I was too tired to be creative.

I do wonder though, whether or not a red wine glazed icing would work better (or work at all – would the alchohol prevent it from setting?), or perhaps, forget the wine and just do a melted chocolate glaze. But then – if you can’t taste the red wine in the actual cake – it may as well be a chocolate cupcake, so then why bother with the wine at all? Why not just drink it?

So you see – it’s a baffling experimental cupcake, that apparently, went down well! The cake was delicious, I must agree – light and fluffy and moist. But I didn’t like the icing. But others seem to think it’s lovely. So each to their own. If you do this, please tell me if you make the buttercream icing and if you manage to prevent it from curdling? Possibly my downfall was that I’d run out of cocoa powder and so used drinking chocolate powder instead. Maybe this is one of those things I have to make a few times to perfect!

The original recipe is here

I did half quantities as 24 cupcakes (and large ones at that!) seemed excessive. Unless you’re going to do professional icing – I’d recommend quarter quantities of icing – I did half the recipe amount and have more than half of it left over after icing them all. But I just used a spoon and a knife. I’ve put quarter quantities in the recipe below.

Chocolate and red wine cupcakes

Makes 12 muffin tin sized cupcakes

  • 85g unsalted butter – at room temperature (if possible).
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 65ml red wine (like Merlot – or whichever one you have a random bottle of that you don’t like the look of!)
  • 160g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8tsp (or a very small pinch) ground nutmeg
  • 90g dark cooking chocolate, melted (try to use at least 70% cocoa solids for a better taste)

For the icing:

  • 30g butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 heaped tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2.5 tbsp red wine
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius. Line a muffin tin with papers
  2. Cream the butter until pale and smooth (an electric whisk is definitely handy here). Then add the sugar and cream until pale and fluffy.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Add an egg at a time to the butter and sugar mix and beat well until combined.
  5. Then tip in the dry ingredients and carefully fold in.
  6. Finally add the melted chocolate and carefully fold into the mixture.
  7. Using two spoons, carefully spoon the mixture into each of the cases until 3/4 full.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean from the middle of them.
  9. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  10. Meanwhile make the icing. Cream the butter (again an electric whisk is very handy).
  11. Then slowly add the icing sugar a bit at a time.
  12. Next alternate by adding a half spoonful of cocoa powder followed by a half spoonful of wine – until all combined.
  13. When the cakes are completely cooled either pipe the icing onto the cakes using a piping bag or just spread on with a knife.
  14. Eat and enjoy with a nice cup of tea!

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