Cabernet Sauvignon, the darling of red wine lovers everywhere, and premium bittersweet chocolate is a flavor pairing made in heaven. The combination is celebrated all over the country with Valentine’s Day events, which are touted as affairs of the heart, complete with romance, passion, red wine, chocolate, and roses—not necessarily in that order. This Valentine’s Day event on beautiful Whidbey Island sounds enticing, for example.
But this year, we’re opting for quiet relaxation in front of a blazing fireplace—at home. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to celebrate LoveDay, however. In fact, I created this spicy little butter cake just for the occasion, which of course we have already eaten. But this cake is so easy to make, I’ll bake a repeat performance on Saturday. We ate the prototype with the dreamy chocolate glaze you see pictured above. For the second take, I plan to serve it with Crème Anglaise and Burnt Caramel Sauce as suggested below. Maybe LoveMan will bring my favorite flowers. I can hardly wait!
This simple butter cake is excellent plain, dusted with only a little powdered sugar, and sublime served with Crème Anglaise (custard sauce) and Burnt Caramel Sauce, both drizzled on the plate. It can also be coated with Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze for an elegant finish. If you opt for the glaze, don’t be tempted to taste it before coating the cake. You may end up alone in your favorite chair, with the glaze, a tattered copy of Wuthering Heights, and a spoon. Then later you will have nothing to adorn your cake.
Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Sauvignon Butter Cake
This chocolate butter cake has a moist and tender texture, which I love. Plus, it’s beyond delicious. It’s one thing to drink a fine Cabernet while slowly savoring bittersweet chocolate, but altogether finer to combine the two with aromatic and elusive spices in this lovely cake.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, to brush pan
¼ cup sugar, to line pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened natural-process cocoa (NOT alkalized)
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cool room temperature (1½ cubes)
1 cup extra-fine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs, beaten lightly, cool room temperature
1/2 cup dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or merlot
Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
- Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven with plenty of room above it and preheat the oven to 325°.
- Brush a six-cup capacity bundt pan (or two 2½- to 3-cup capacity bundt pans) with melted butter. Pour ¼ cup sugar into the pan and tip the pan in all directions to coat evenly. Turn the pan upside down to remove any excess sugar that does not cling. (If you are using two smaller bundt pans, divide the butter and sugar between them.)
- Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Using a mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter until smooth, and then add the sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times with a flexible spatula.
- While beating at medium speed, add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.
- Add eggs, a bit at a time, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Beating at low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and a third of the red wine. Repeat twice more with the remaining dry ingredients and wine, scraping the bowl with a flexible spatula between additions.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top feels springy and a metal skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. The internal temperature of the cake at its thickest center should read 190º-195º. The temperature will continue to rise a few degrees after removing the cake from the oven, so don’t overbake. (If using two smaller bundt pans, bake for 20-25 minutes.)
- Cool the cake on the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so. Turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
- To finish, dust with powdered sugar.
Makes one cake; about sixteen 1/2-inch slices.
Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
This glaze is so delicious that it is difficult to get it on to the cake before eating it all right out of the bowl. You’ve been warned.
SERVING NOTE Don’t refrigerate the cake after glazing. It will lose its beautiful shine in the refrigerator.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (65%-72% cacao), pistoles (wafers) or chopped
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, cool room temperature
1.Put the chopped chocolate in a 4-cup glass measuring cup and microwave for 1 minute.
2.Remove from the microwave and stir with a wooden chopstick or other wooden utensil to melt the chocolate. If it won’t melt completely, return it to the microwave for 10-second intervals, just until it is smooth when stirred. If you overheat the chocolate, it will seize and turn grainy. If this happens, you must begin again with a new batch of chocolate.
3.When the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, add all of the room temperature butter and stir with a plastic spatula until it is completely absorbed and the glaze is smooth. If it won’t blend completely, return to the microwave for a few seconds and try again. When finished, the glaze will be glossy, smooth and slightly thickened. A temperature probe will register 80º-85º. The glaze should be thin enough to pour over the cake in a smooth finish. (In the picture at the top of this post, you can see that the glaze was a bit too thick. I had difficulty getting an even coating. Next time, I will not let it thicken quite so much.)
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