Red Wine Chocolate Truffle Cake

Now that I go to pastry school, there are a few irrevocable things I have to accept about my life.

1. I will never have nice nails or smooth hands ever again.

2. My definition of “sleeping in” means waking up between 7 and 8 in the morning.

3. Every job I ever have will require me to wear an apron.

4. Sugar. Sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar!

Actually, I don’t mind that last one. I love sugar. I swear I don’t care if I get a million cavities or diabetes — my mom used to tell me, “When you get older, you’ll find that you just don’t like sweet things as much as you do now!”

Uh, yeeeah — that has yet to happen (and it’s never gonna happen)!

In fact, I think my next piece of ink will be a sucrose molecule on my shoulder blade.

Although my life is currently in some serious transition — and rife with all the stress and anxiety that accompanies maturation and change — some things will always stay the same.

Oh, and speaking of mature: it’s what this red wine chocolate truffle cake is all about.

It’s got a rich and dense brownie-like crumb, but enough spice and complexity to satisfy your inner adult.

Smitten Kitchen’s original recipe called for more flour and brown sugar, but I wanted something moister and more truffle-like, so I added melted chocolate and a touch of cayenne.

When it comes to choosing the right red wine to use in this cake, almost anything would be good — except for Malbec and Zinfandel, since they’re probably a little too jammy and fruit-forward to work as well as some of the other varietals.

For those of you who teetotal (for shame!), buttermilk can replace the red wine.

Red Wine Chocolate Truffle Cake

*adapted from Smitten Kitchen


Red Wine Chocolate Cake

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 oz./85 grams bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Red Wine Syrup

  • 2 cups red wine
  • cinnamon stick, about 3 inches in length
  • star anise, 1 whole
  • orange peel, 2 x 1 inch strip
  • 1/2 cup white sugar


Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler — set aside and allow to cool.

Sift together the dry ingredients; all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl often. Cream in the melted and cooled chocolate, then add the egg and egg yolk and mix until smooth.

Add the red wine, stir until incorporated, then fold in the sifted dry ingredients. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 25 ~ 28 minutes at 325°F/160°C, then (carefully!) cover the top of the pan with tin foil, turn the heat down to 300°F/150°C, and bake for another 12 ~ 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the tinfoil covered cake in the pan for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

While the cake cools, make the red wine syrup!

In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer the red wine, cinnamon stick, star anise, and orange peel. Reduce by half, strain, and return the strained red wine to the heat. Stir in the white sugar and reduce by half again.

Serve with the red wine chocolate truffle cake.

This cake can be cooled, well wrapped in clingfilm, and kept for days in the fridge.

It’s also very rich, so this recipe can easily serve 10 people — I had an 8th-sized slice on an empty stomach and was a little overwhelmed (but, y’know — in a good way). Yum!

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25 thoughts on “Red Wine Chocolate Truffle Cake

  1. Kim says:

    That looks delicious! Love the red wine idea – definitely one to try!

  2. As someone who has been there, I promise your hands will be smooth again and your nails will be long! Just be patient. This looks absolutely amazing.

    • daisy says:

      I second this! When I was in culinary school, I never thought I’d wear anything fashionable again, or style my hair any other way but a ponytail, or have nothing but short stubbly nails…It does pass. Speaking of hands, I have this “hand crush” on Giada de Laurentiis. Have you ever noticed her hands? They are so nice, so feminine and her nails are gorgeous.

      • Christine says:

        Haha, I’ll take both of your words for it — not that I ever really had super nice and well-manicured nails to begin with, but, y’know, the skin on my hands used to NOT feel like sandpaper all the time! 😛

  3. daisy says:

    Christine, you keep making me want to use wine and spirits in everything I cook/bake. This is beautiful and very creative.

  4. A Tablespoon of Liz says:

    This looks amazing… as usual. And I’m loving the tattoo idea!

    • Christine says:

      Thanks! A lot of my friends have given me the thumbs up on the idea, too — I just wonder if I should get it NOW or sit on the idea for a bit, since I tend to percolate my ink for at least 2 ~ 3 months before having it done.

  5. Oh my god. Red wine and dark chocolate are the PERFECT combination. Unfortunately for me, I’d probably finish off the bottle of wine before I got halfway through the baking process.

  6. Mulled wine…AND..chocolate truffle cake?! My word, this is like sliced wintery heaven! Would never have thought of using red wine in the cake mixture…may well come back to this one.

    And I turn my back for a minute and your blog has had a makeover! It looks great – lovely clean lines. Hope you’re well and pastry school is going brilliantly 🙂 x

    • Christine says:

      Haha, I’m glad you got a look (and definitely glad you approve!) but I’ve switched back to the old template until I have more time to develop the next one.

      Pastry school has been going pretty well — lil’ bit of in-class drama, but that’s a post for Thursday! 🙂

  7. Chocolate and wine make for such an awesome flavor! I have seen other cakes but I like the size of this one and also the wine sauce is a great touch. This recipe is a keeper-so glad you shared this one-yum!

  8. i love how sophisticated this cake is!!
    well done girl!

  9. lulu says:

    At first I was all, “What? Wine AND chocolate? Those are my two favourite things, evar” and then I was all, “I have to eat this now.” The end.

  10. […] from Angry Cherry is from Canada– and she’s a pastry chef in training (jealous!)  she makes beautiful […]

  11. Just discovered your blog, I’m looking forward to reading it in 2012!! Happy New Year!

  12. Fusiongr8 says:

    If I make this in a 6.5 inch spring form pan how many inches do I need to leave at the top? Want to make it for two for Valentines Day!

  13. Christine says:

    Oops — obviously this is a very late reply (for which I apologize)!

    This cake is very dense and doesn’t rise very much, so I would only leave about 1/2 an inch at the top of whatever pan you bake it in. I hope it turned out for your Valentine! 🙂

    • Fusiongr8 says:

      Thank you! It was sooo delicious. I used cake flour and it was ok. He is still talking about it. The cayenne reallyakes it stand out. Thx for sharing the recipe. I’ve told all my friends about your site. 😉

  14. CA Wine Club says:

    Cheese,chocolate and wine love these…….

  15. fusiongr8 says:

    Just made the red wine sauce again and used it with ripe fresh strawberries over vanilla cheesecake. Delicious!

  16. Donnell McCarthy says:

    Hi there
    I was very keen on making this recipe as it looks fantastic!
    However I can’t see in the instructions when to add the red wine to the cake batter. Have I missed it? Lol
    Donnell 🙂

    • Christine says:

      Oops! You’re right — I forgot to write it in.

      I’ve corrected the recipe (the red wine gets added after the chocolate and eggs). Thanks for pointing that out! 🙂

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