Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

I was feeling particularly indulgent and wanted to bake, so I decided on combining two of my very favorite things: dark chocolate and red wine. Since Valentine’s Day is conveniently in a week or so, these sugary treats are especially appropriate. Without further ado, here’s a delicious combination of these vices. (P.S. Sometimes when you bake with wine, you gotta also drink wine. Don’t judge the empty wine bottle 😉 )

dark-chocolate-merlot

The Cupcakes:
Chocolate merlot cake
Godiva dark chocolate liqueur ganache filling
Merlot buttercream
Drizzled dark chocolate and chocolate hearts

The recipe:

Chocolate merlot cake (yields about 20 cupcakes):
2 1/4 C cake flour (or 2 C all purpose flour, if you don’t have cake flour)
1/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 C unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 2/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (room temperature)
2/3 C cocoa powder
1 C merlot or other red wine
1/3 C cold water

(If you’re in Colorado or any other area above sea level, don’t forget to adjust for high altitude! Just send me a message and I can convert the recipe for you:) )

Godiva dark chocolate liqueur ganache filling:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 C heavy cream
3-4 tbsp Godiva dark chocolate liqueur

Merlot buttercream:
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C water
150 g egg whites (if you’re using eggs, use the whites from 4 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb unsalted butter (room temperature)
4 tbsp merlot or other red wine

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk and sift thoroughly into another bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Add 3 eggs to creamed butter mixture. Beat thoroughly.
5. In another bowl, combine cocoa powder, merlot, and water. Whisk until well-mixed.
6. Alternatively add flour mixture and cocoa mixture to creamed butter mixture. Mix well between each addition. Start and end with flour mixture.
7. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
8. Fill cupcake tins with batter (about 2/3 of the way full).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until middle of cupcake is firm to touch.

For the ganache filling:
1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
2. Melt chocolate over double-boiler on low heat (or in microwave–heat in 10 second intervals, mixing in between, until melted thoroughly).
3. While butter and chocolate are melting, heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
4. Combine chocolate and butter when melted.
5. When heavy cream begins to boil, mix into chocolate and butter mixture and whisk rigorously until well-combined.
7. Add Godiva dark chocolate liqueur and mix well.
8. Cover and refrigerate until solid.
9. Once solid, mix with a spoon and you’re ready to fill.

For the merlot buttercream:
1. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, heat on low until boiling.
2. While sugar mixture is heating, whip egg whites, vanilla, and merlot with mixer until frothy.
3. Pour boiling sugar mixture into egg whites and vanilla while mixing.
4. Beat on high speed till cool and stiff. This is going to take several minutes.
5. Once the bowl feels cool, switch the mixer to low speed and add in butter in small chunks.
6. Beat for another few minutes on low until buttercream comes together. It will look like cottage cheese for awhile…this is completely normal and happens just before the buttercream pulls together so don’t panic.
7. You’re all ready to frost! Top iced cupcakes with chocolate drizzle (melted dark chocolate with a little bit of butter) and chocolate candies of your choice.

I feel like I’m going to need to go to the gym a lot this week…

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