Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake

Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake on Red Plate

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.

Ingredients for Bittersweet Chocolate and Cabernet Butter Cake

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!

Glazing Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake

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 and Cabernet Butter 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

powdered sugar


Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze

  1. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven with plenty of room above it and preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. 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.)
  3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. 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.
  5. While beating at medium speed, add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.
  6. Add eggs, a bit at a time, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. Cool the cake on the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so. Turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. 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.

Note   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.

Copyright 2009 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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    • sms bradley says

      Karen, Whole Foods carries single chile powders, including ancho. You should be able to find it there. Otherwise, locate a Mexican food store near you. They will have it. Have fun baking!

  2. radar says

    Made the cake this afternoon—-its all you said it would be! Would love to have a pan like that. Thanks so much-the recipe is wonderful!

    • smsb says

      Kevin, thank you! We have eaten so much chocolate this month that I’m in serious need of your White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes (on Closet Cooking).

    • smsb says

      Michele, your cake in this same pan (on Tarheel Table) looks amazing. It would be really fun, me thinks, to get a group of cooking buddies together and ask them to each bring a cake baked in this pan. Then take pictures and eat them all. :-)

  3. says

    My husband and I are trying our hand at making wine for the 1st time and I can not wait until it is ready. I will definitely have to use a bottle to make this cake.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • smsb says

      Ceres, that sounds like a real adventure. And I’m sure the results will be well worth the effort. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

    • smsb says

      Well, you realize the recipe makes TWO cakes, right? :-)But seriously, this cake is very versatile. I plan to do a riff by replacing the red wine with cherry brandy or cherry juice, then serve with a smear of the chocolate butter glaze on the plate, macerated Montmorency cherries, and whipped cream. Voila! Deconstructed Black Forest Cake.

  4. Chuck says

    WOW, what an amazing cake!!! The absolutely perfect Valentines cake. I wish someone would make that cake for me! Stunning!

    • smsb says

      Thank you Meeta! I let out a hoot when I saw those heart-shaped pans at Kitchen Kaboodle in Portland. I think they will be fun for workmate b-days even after LoveDay.

  5. says

    You are at it again! A whole month of chocolate! YES! I was just talking to one of my mentors in the foodie world about your white chocolate, rose petal cake today. She has a restaurant here in Manzanita, Bread and Ocean, (she used to have the late great Blue Sky.) Anyways she is making a dessert like that this weekend at Bread and Ocean. I am going to make this cake for a Valentine’s day massage workshop I am teaching. Thank you so much. Here’s to chocolate and wine!

    • smsb says

      Valentine’s Day massage workshop? Now that sounds FUN! :-) Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m really getting into eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are so many more desserts I want to explore before the celebration ends. But then of course it will be spring and that’s its own wonderful season. We will definitely check out Bread and Ocean the next time we head to the coast. I hope the cheesecake turns out great!


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