Red (Wine) Cocoa Cake with Whipped Mascarpone

31st January 2016

red (wine) cocoa cakeIt all started because I bought a bottle of wine. A bottle of chocolatey red wine. This is not some kind of flowery word campaign to describe the essence of chocolate that balanced out the strong tannin flavor, no – this wine legit tasted like chocolate. This is not to be confused with chocolate wine (you people who drink this, who are you?), this was red wine that had been chocolatefied. As soon as I took a sip I knew: this wine is not for drinking, this wine is for cake making.

I have exactly one from scratch chocolate cake in my arsenal. One. AND IT IS THE FINEST IN THE LAND. Ahem. Sorry. Had a Josh Lyman moment there. Anyway. This cake recipe that I have tucked away is the brainchild of Edna Mae and is a product of that generation because, yes Virginia, there is shortening in this cake recipe. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I took my darling grandmother’s cake, made a few modifications, and well … got it drunk.

Yes, you read that correctly. I contributed to the delinquency of a cake. I will not apologize for this offense, because oh my stars is this cake good. It’s rich. It’s deeply chocolatey. It’s dense, and a bit fudgey. Add a bit of whipped mascarpone and you have one heck of a dessert on your hands.

Red (Wine) Cocoa Cake with Whipped Mascarpone


3/4 cup red wine, full bodied or chocolate red wine
6 TBSP butter
1/4 cup shortening
6 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash salt

8 oz mascarpone, room temperature
2 TBSP powdered sugar + extra for dusting


Preheat oven to 325º.

Combine wine, butter, shortening and cocoa in a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil (as soon as you notice it bubble, remove it from the stove … you don’t want to cook out the booze).

In a bowl combine the flour and sugars (you can either do this in a mixing bowl by hand or use a mixer, up to you – I’ve made it both ways) and pour the heated wine mixture over the flour mixture, add a dash of salt and stir until combined.

Next add in the baking soda, baking powder, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla – stir until combined.

Pour batter into a greased 8-inch cake pan (I actually used a 6-inch pan because my great grandmother’s cake stand is a teeny thing) and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a baking rack before serving. Before serving dust cake with a bit of powdered sugar.

FOR THE WHIPPED MASCARPONE: Using a mixer with a paddle attachment whip mascarpone and powdered sugar together until fluffy.

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Honey-Orange Biscotti

1st January 2016

Orange-Honey BiscottiFirst, I have to get something out of the way: ZOMG, SHERLOCK SPECIAL!!! *flails* Ahem. Okay. I’m good now. Let me tell you, campers, it has been an exceedingly long two years … and all I’m getting is a special (not that I’m complaining, no I am happy with my one episode Sherlock gods – please keep ’em coming).

So, can I say it was a BURDEN to research these biscotti, I mean with the reading of Doyle’s work and the watching of the Cumberbatch and Freeman, SO TEDIOUS. But seriously, if there were ever a moment of “can’t see the forest for all the trees” moment in my life, it was developing Sherlockscotti. After all the reading and all the watching I had nada …all I could think was: DUDE EATS TOAST HALF THE TIME. Finally, in a pique of frustration, I went to Twitter and asked my lovely tweeps for help. And they responded with so many lovely answers which helped give birth to this particular biscotti. The break down is as follows:

Orange: ’cause “The Five Orange Pips”.
Honey: ’cause he keeps bees!
Almonds: ’cause surely cyanide is in there somewhere, right?

All I can say, is be glad for my tweeps because I was THISCLOSE to buying some pipe tobacco and calling it a day. I’m serious. It would not have been pretty. I forgot Sherlock kept bees, that’s how deep in the woods I was.

Note: if you make use of the optional glaze the biscotti won’t be as crisp as they normally are, but they will have an added punch of orange-honeyness with the added delight of a hint of whiskey.

Honey-Orange Biscotti (Sherlockscotti)


1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 sugar, less 2 TBSP
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP + 1 tsp strong flavored honey (I used Black Forest Honey)
1 orange, zested
slivered almonds

Optional Glaze:
juice from small orange
1 tsp strong flavored honey
1 tsp whiskey
zest from 1/4 of an orange


Preheat oven to 350.

Using the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and honey together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and orange zest; mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix until dough has formed.

Scoop dough out onto a Silpat (or parchment paper) covered baking sheet and form into a roughly 15×4 inch block. Top biscotti block with slivered almonds, press into the dough so they stick.

Bake until a light golden color (approx. 25 – 30 minutes). Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove log from baking sheet to cutting board. Using a long knife (serrated if you prefer – I use a butcher’s knife) slice log into 1/2 inch wide pieces.

Return pieces to baking sheets, and return to oven. Bake for additional 12-15 minutes.

Remove biscotti from oven, and place on a cooling rack, they will continue to “crisp” as they cool.  If you want to add the optional “glaze” this is when you’d do it. Add all the ingredients for the glaze in a microwave safe bowl, microwave for approximately 30-40 seconds (you don’t want it to boil, just to heat up enough for the honey to melt). Turn biscotti on their side and lightly brush mixture over biscotti. Let dry completely.

Store in an airtight container.

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