This Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries is a spectacular cake. The combination of chocolate cake with a mascarpone and buttercream frosting all topped with sugared cranberries is simply divine. Extend it to any season by garnishing the cake with fresh Strawberries or Raspberries.
I had originally planned to make a version of this Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries for Halloween. I knew it would be a really dark chocolate and I anticipated adding red wine to the cake as well as making a red wine glaze and simulating something ghoulish.
What stopped me? The cake was simply too good to have it reside in the world of Halloween, that’s what happened. I might make revisions of this recipe, but I always start with the same basic chocolate cake, it is a recipe I’ve used for ten years and it never fails me.
Halloween is my least favorite holiday in the first place (orange is SO not my color) so I saw greater potential in taking it into the realm of the holidays. I spied cranberries in the freezer and my mind immediately veered off path and I’m so glad it did.
Besides that? My daughter Emily and I both have birthdays this month; so this is for us! It’s what we both love; a chocolate cake with anything other than chocolate frosting; I think that’s overkill…and a frosting with mascarpone cheese was perfect! Mascarpone is similar to cream cheese…but better.
Whenever I plan a dessert like this, I always round up what I call ‘eaters’ from the neighbors on my street. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy a slice every day for 2 weeks but I know I shouldn’t so I have willing participants when it comes to desserts (and cocktails).
They work for free but they never complain; all I have to do is get the word out and a mini party happens in my kitchen.
The combination of a dark chocolate cake with red wine topped with a mascarpone and whipped cream frosting seemed delightful enough but it was the addition of sugared cranberries on top that really won my guests over this time.
I just love those little orbs and it was fun to see people try them for the first time and join me in that love.
Tart and just barely softened by a quick simmer and then covered with sugar that dries to a hard shell, they are so easy, taste amazing and really are the icing on the proverbial cake. So beautiful with their deep red color topped with a bit of sparkle.
This time around I tried something new and simmered them in the same red wine I had used in the cake. Oh my is right. I suggest making extra; you will want to snack on as many of them as you put on the cake!
I’ve been asked what type of red wine to use and honestly, use what you love. I’ve used both a Cabernet and Pinot for this cake and both were excellent.
Want to try this for something other than a holiday celebration? Switch out the cranberries for fresh strawberries and raspberries in season; it would be fantastic! Truly a special dessert fit for a celebration. Happy Holidays! (And Happy Birthday Em!)
Love Sugared Cranberries like I do? Here’s some more delicious desserts with the sugary tart little orbs!
- Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling and Sugared Cranberries
- Cranberry Cake with Warm Butter Rum Sauce and Sugared Cranberries
- White Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream and Sugared Cranberries
PIN IT! ‘Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries’
Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries
For the Cake
- 2 cups cake flour
- ¾ cup cocoa
- 11/2 teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup butter room temperature
- 2 cups golden brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¾ cup red wine
For the Frosting
- 11/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream divided
- ⅓ cup white chocolate grated
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 8- ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese
For the Sugared Cranberry Garnish
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Prepare the Cake Layers
- Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
- Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.
- Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Gradually add wine, beating just until smooth.
- Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment. Place wire rack atop each cake, invert again so top side is up.
- Cool completely.
- To Make the Frosting
- Bring 1 cup cream to boil in small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over grated white chocolate and stir until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of the whipping cream and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. Can be made one day ahead; cover and keep chilled.
- Add mascarpone to chilled mixture; Using electric mixer; beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 minutes (do not overbeat or mixture will curdle).
To Assemble the Cake:
- Brush crumbs from cakes. Place one cake layer, top side up, on platter. Divide frosting in half and spread one-half on first cake layer. Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges. Top with second layer, top side up. Spread remaining frosting over top of cake.
- To make sugared cranberries
- Wash cranberries and remove any bad berries.
To Make the Sugared Cranberries:
- Combine sugar, water and wine in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries and cook on medium low heat until some of the cranberry skins just start to pop and water starts to turn pink; 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Drain cranberries in a colander set over a bowl. Spread sugar on a cookie sheet and gently put the cranberries on the sugar and roll them until coated. Let them stand in a single layer at room temperature until dry, about 1 hour.
- Return the drained juice to a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Cool completely.
- To Serve
- Mound the cranberries on the top of the chilled cake. Drizzle some of the red wine sauce on each plate and top with slices of cake and sugared cranberries.