Make Ahead

Chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon Italian Cake

November 17, 2009
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Come winter and I love a nice moist chocolate cake to finish off dinner. I learned this recipe at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in Florence and have adapted it to my taste using a few spices to add a different taste. This chocolate cake is made with red wine and is a very elegant cake. Serve either as a big cake cut up in slices or make individual cakes and serve with some Creme Anglaise and blueberries and raspberries. Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect match wine to this cake. —Maria Teresa Jorge

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a lovely moist and delicate cake with bold fruity flavors from the wine with a nice complexity from the spices and chocolate. The cake is reminiscent of mulled wine. It's a perfect elegant dessert to finish off a dinner party. Be sure to use a good wine that you'd like to drink. —Stephanie Bourgeois

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine
  • 3 crushed juniper berries
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups fine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 3/4 cup
    2 tablepoons butter cut up in small pieces

  • 1 cup all purpose flour - sifted
  • 4 eggs - room temperature
  • 1/8 cup Rum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons Apricot jam + 1 tablespoon hot water
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 300ºF with rack in the middle.
  2. Butter and flour a 10 inch diameter springform pan.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, put the wine, the crushed juniper berries and the cinnamon stick and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and infuse for 30 minutes. Strain and discard the berries and the cinnamon.
  4. Put the wine back in the pan over medium low heat and add the sugar, butter and the chocolate powder. Stir to dissolve the sugar and completely melt the butter. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  5. Seperate the egg yolks from the whites, putting the egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer.
  6. Lightly beat with a fork the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of sifted flour. Add 1/4 cup of the wine mixture to the egg yolks, mix and pour the eggs in the pan with the wine and sugar. Stir to mix well.
  7. Set aside 2/3 cup of this mixture that will be used to glaze the chocolate cake.
  8. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites to hard peaks.
  9. Sift the remaining flour with the baking powder in a bowl. Add the wine, sugar and egg mixture and mix just enough to incorporate everything. Add the Rum and lastly fold in the egg whites very lightly with a spatula.
  10. Transfer the cake mixture to the buttered and floured springform pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  11. Put the apricot jam and the hot water in a pan over medium low heat and allow to warm up to thin it.
  12. When the cake is baked, put it on a cooling rack, allow to cool for a couple of minutes and unmold. Spread the apricot jam on top of the cake which should be still hot, and finally pour the reserved chocolate glaze over the apricot, spreading well with an icing spatula. Allow to cool completely.
  13. Serve with a light creme anglaise, some blueberries and raspberies.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • kirsty Hawkshaw
    kirsty Hawkshaw
  • NakedBeet
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • TasteFood
  • dymnyno

19 Reviews

neighome November 4, 2020
Has anyone tried to make this into a layer cake?
neighome November 1, 2015
I made this yesterday and brought it to a birthday celebration at a bar. We passed the leftovers around the bar to rave reviews. I did not have apricot jam on hand, so I used fig marmalade which fit in nicely. The texture was light. airy and moist. And because this is not super chocolaty, the fruitiness of both the cocoa and wine were able to shine through. The only thing I might change is to increase the number of juniper berries, as they got somewhat lost. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe!
Maria T. November 1, 2015
Thank you for your comment.
A chocolate cake with wine should taste of chocolate and wine - go easy on the juniper berries!
Dev May 24, 2014
This was both one of the most amazing and most saddening recipes I have tried. The entire way it was amazing (I have never had so much trouble keeping myself from eating batter/frosting as I did this one) right up until the apricot jam on it. I am not sure if the jam I got was just way too strong, or if it is just me, but the apricot overwhelmed the amazing flavors I tasted from the wine and juniper berries.

That said, I have added this idea of adding the spiced wine to other cakes and I must say it is one of the best ideas ever. I am going to try and remake this cake with maybe a little orange jam instead, maybe 1/2 the amount, to see if it is the jam itself I don't like, or just apricots. All things together, I think I would have been a die hard addict with the cake and glaze without the apricot.
Maria T. May 25, 2014
Hi Dev,
Thanks for your comment.
I use apricot jam because it's the 'mildest tasting' of all the jams. It leaves me really confused that it overwhelmed the other flavours. I would say that that orange is by far a lot more accertive. Maybe try less jam or a milder apricot jam.
I'm so sad about your experience. Hope you can come up with a solution that pleases you.
kirsty H. March 19, 2013
wow this sounds amazing!
LilRaps December 8, 2012
Regarding the 'glaze' used with the reserve cake mixture WITH raw egg yolks that were barely tempered???
NakedBeet July 17, 2012
Maria, for the cocoa powder, do you recommend natural unsweetened cocoa powder or dutch processed? And 1 cup of sifted flour or 1 cup of flour followed by the sifting? If you have weight equivalents for all, I'd love to try this out for an upcoming celebration.
Toriaballet September 6, 2010
Dear Maria Teresa, your recipes are so inspiring to me! I have a question regarding this cake. I cannot seem to find juniper berries close to me and is there a substitute that you can recommend? I am on a budget so i really would rather not mail order some or have to travel and purchase them (I am sure I can find them in some specialty shop near LA if I research it but in the do you think it would taste if I eliminated the juniper berry infusion?)

Maria T. February 14, 2012
Hi Toriaballet, sorry to answer so late, I didn't see the question before. If you don't have juniper berries just make the cake without. You could also add a couple of teaspoons of gin as it is made with juniper berries.
TheWimpyVegetarian January 25, 2010
I have a great marinade I make for venison that incorporates red wine and juniper berries. I will have to make this chocolate cake as the dessert when I make it next as I think the two would go very well together. It looks like such a great recipe!
Maria T. January 26, 2010
Why not, keep it in the family! Thank yu for the comment.
TasteFood January 25, 2010
oh my, I feel like I should be out foraging mushrooms or hunting wild boar in the Italian countryside to work up an appetite to eat this cake. It sounds incredible - especially with the juniper berries.
AntoniaJames January 25, 2010
I'd have to double the recipe for the wine with the spices, in order to actually have some to put in the cake. It must be so tasty!! I've never put juniper berries in red wine before . . . . it sounds positively wonderful. I knew this week's recipes were going to be great fun, but this is amazing . . . .
Maria T. January 26, 2010
Thank you for the comments. This is a very suttle cake, the wine taste comes out without being overwhelming. Just a note here - use a good wine and serve the cake with the same wine.
dymnyno November 20, 2009
As a producer of a premium brand Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a recipe that I will definitely try!
Maria T. November 20, 2009
Do tell me how it came out!
Kelsey B. November 18, 2009
I wish I could just reach through the computer screen and eat this cake!
Maria T. November 19, 2009
I wish I could have it more times too, keep promising myself to keep my diet, but I love desserts. Kelsey, this is a trully simple and fast recipe, don't hesitate. Just don't drink the rest of the CS while making it otherwise you'll be the one napping.