I’ve got a new podcast obsession these days*, one that has me DVRing old movies and thinking about classic pairings like Fred and Ginger, Bogart and Bacall, Audrey and Givenchy.**
*You Must Remember This. Listen to the episode on Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. Try not to bawl your eyes out.
** It also has me thinking about J. Edgar Hoover and Howard Hughes, but the former’s suspicions about how everyone in Hollywood was a Communist and the latter’s man-whoring are maybe not Valentine’s Day appropriate.
Red wine and chocolate are one of those classic pairings, too, no? Or, how about blue cheese and bacon, PB&J, french fries and a Frosty? Red wine and chocolate top them all, in my opinion, maybe because I don’t like blue cheese, but really, how do you beat red wine and chocolate when they team up?
I’m not the only one who thinks so, at least not in wine country, where you can often find Cabernet paired with chocolate truffles, or as I recently discovered, poured into a batch of chocolate sauce. I bought a bottle, and as usually happens with impulse purchases, had no real plan for what to do with it other than pouring it onto a spoon, so I put it away until inspiration struck. It wasn’t long before I was dreaming up ice cream sundaes with chocolate cake and that sauce, and then I knew that the cake had to have red wine in it too, to mimic the sauce, and that was it.
I used the red wine chocolate cake from Smitten Kitchen as a guide, partly because I still get apprehensive sometimes about experimental baking and also partly because the story that goes along with that particular post is maybe the only romantic 9/11 story I’ve ever heard and it made me “aww” when I read it. She paired her cake with mascarpone, but as it turns out, it also goes excellently with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, and for an extra oomph of booze, that cabernet chocolate sauce. It’s a decadent treat perfect for Valentines, Galentines, or just because it’s Friday.
"Red Wine & Chocolate" Sundaes
Makes 4 sundaes. Red wine chocolate cake adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
2-3 tbs butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
splash of vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch of baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 plus 1/8 cup of red wine
1 pint vanilla ice cream
red wine chocolate sauce (you can buy here, or use another chocolate sauce)
1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
- Prepare a 6-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease with butter or cooking spray. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Put butter and sugars in the bowl of a mixer and beat until fluffy and fully combined. Add in egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the red wine.
- Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely.
- To make sundaes, cut out 2-inch circles from the cake layer. You should be able to get four circles. The baker gets the scraps!
- Place a cake circle in the bottom of a small bowl (or stemless wine glass) and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and garnish with strawberries.