This chocolate red wine cake is perfect for Valentine’s Day

Lilly Higgins: Strawberries macerated in Pinot noir complement this no-stress dessert

Chocolate red wine cake with strawberries

Chocolate red wine cake with strawberries

 

Last week I shared my beef Stroganoff recipe, perfect for Valentine’s Day or any laid back, special dinner. Since we’re approaching Valentine’s weekend a chocolate dessert is perfect for baking. I usually find myself drawn to the cheese board or anything chocolate based when I’m in a restaurant. Chocolate fondants, whilst tasting divine, require some last-minute prep and cooking with care, not ideal for such a relaxed occasion. You don’t want to be panicking about your egg whites while eating your main course. So I’ve opted for a bake-ahead chocolate and red wine cake, its sweetness balanced by some natural yoghurt. All very simple but effective.

Dark chocolate and red wine are a match made in heaven. But texturally they clash. Some red wines have chocolate and vanilla notes whilst some chocolates when rich, dark and fermented can be reminiscent of wine. I decided to see what it would be like if I added red wine to one of my favourite chocolate cake recipes and the results are delicious. Dark rich chocolate with a hint of spice, red fruits and vanilla.

Here I’ve ran with the red wine theme and recreated something I once ate in Florence. I had tiny wild strawberries that had been macerated in red wine. The strawberries lifted the wine with fresh fruit flavours and the wine gave the strawberries depth and body. Such a unique taste and really special. These are delicious as a dessert in their own right, served with good vanilla ice-cream. Pour the wine mix over the berries a maximum of half an hour before serving. They will soften too much otherwise. Add a few fresh cherries or raspberries if they are at hand. With a dollop of cool yogurt or cream on the side this is one dish that will surely win hearts this Valentine’s weekend.

I use a fruity Pinot noir for this. And as always use wine that you would drink too and you will taste the quality in the finished dish. Diana Henry makes a version of this but simmers the red wine with vanilla and sugar in a pan, it’s equally delicious and quite syrupy. Don’t worry that this fruit and wine combination will smack of sangria, it really does work. Spoon a little of the red wine syrup over the berries on the plate and the cake will soak it up. A really indulgent treat that’s a cinch to make.

CHOCOLATE RED WINE CAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES

Ingredients
Serves 8-10

125g butter
380g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
175g soft brown sugar
35g plain flour
3 tbsp red wine
120g ground almonds
5 eggs

To serve: Cocoa, for dusting & dried rose petals

For the strawberries:

230ml fruity red wine such as Pinot noir or Merlot
1 tsp lemon juice
½-1 tbsp sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a 22cm round springform tin with baking paper.

For the strawberries stir the wine, lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl to taste. Set aside while you bake the cake. Pour over the strawberries 15 minutes before serving so they don’t get mushy and lose their texture and brightness.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted fold in the brown sugar, ground almonds and flour. Followed by the eggs and red wine. Mix well till smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin before turning onto a plate and dusting with cocoa powder. Serve with the strawberries and some natural yoghurt or cream.

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