Tag Archives: birthday

Red Wine Chocolate Cake



In middle school, Georgia and I used to make homemade truffles to give to our friends around the holidays. Actually, Georgia started this practice—I remember being in awe of her cocoa-dusted truffles neatly packaged in tiny Chinese takeout boxes that she gave me one Christmas. I thought it was a genius idea to give out homemade treats and started doing the same. Some years I made chocolate peanut butter cups, packaging them in cheap holiday mugs for my family. They were probably melted by the time the recipients opened them, but I remember being quite pleased with my handiwork.

Despite living in New England all my life, I think I have a bit of Southern girl in me, as I believe that the best way to show people you care about them is by cooking for them. A simple omelet, a box of dark chocolate truffles, and a birthday cake all become more special if you’ve made them yourself.

Sophie, one of our closest friends, recently turned twenty. To celebrate her special day, we gathered and feasted upon a truly decadent red wine chocolate cake, topped with a mascarpone cream and fresh, juicy strawberries. Although it was simple to prepare and not grandiose in the least—the cake is only one layer—it was one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever eaten. The cake is rich, chocolaty and punctuated by pockets of deep red wine flavor, but perfectly complimented by the cool cream and sweet strawberries. It’s sophisticated enough to serve after a formal dinner, but easy enough to prepare that you’ll want to make it for every occasion.

If you haven’t thought of something to get your dad for Father’s Day, I recommend making this cake. It requires no more than an hour of your time, a few ingredients, including good red wine, and endless love.


Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg & 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup red wine
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder (we used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour both the sides of the pan and surface of the parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, then add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and yolk, beat well, then add the wine and vanilla. The mixture might look a little lumpy, but fear not, this is totally normal and your cake will be fine.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Sift the dry mixture over the wet, then beat until combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the topping, beat together mascarpone, heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form–don’t over-beat. Smooth over the surface of the cake and garnish with fresh strawberries or raspberries.



Chocolate Birthday Cake


Yesterday we celebrated the 18th birthday of Maia, one of our very good friends. So we made a cake!

Homemade cake is fun because people think you’re some sort of culinary genius, even if it took super-simple ingredients and twenty minutes to mix the ingredients.

The easiest way to frost a cake, which I have learned from various food websites and from personal experience, is to cut four strips of parchment paper and form a square on the edges of a plate. Place the cake in the middle and frost as messily as you would like. It’s like magic. You can get as much frosting and sprinkles on the parchment paper as you want, but pull out the parchment paper when you’re finished and… voila! A squeaky-clean plate to display your cake.

I have a pretty stocked cabinet of sprinkles. I’m kind of obsessed, if I haven’t mentioned that already. We used brightly colored sugar crystals and dinosaur sprinkles (thank you, Georgia!) to decorate Maia’s sophisticated 18th birthday cake. It was a big hit. Some of our friends even told us it was better than one of our local restaurant’s!

The cake is a two-layer chocolate cake made using Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake (the recipe comes from their container of cocoa powder) and frosting adapted from Kitchn’s Double Chocolate Sour Cream Cake. Layering chocolate chips in between the cakes makes for a nice crunchy, chocolatey surprise.

Make this for your best friend’s birthday and he or she will love you forever.

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake
From Hershey’s

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottoms two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides. Lining the pans with parchment paper makes the cake look cleaner when it’s time to remove it from the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a smaller bowl, mix together eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in boiling water and separate the batter equally into prepared pans
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Remove the cake from the pans and let cool completely.


Greek Yogurt Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from The Kitchn

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar. Beat together the sugar, butter and yogurt on medium speed until combined. Add the cocoa, salt and vanilla and mix until the frosting is uniform in color. Adjust the sugar to taste.