Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries

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.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries on Lenox China Plate with Floral Border.

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.

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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.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries

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; they would be fantastic too! 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!

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Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream and Mascarpone Frosting Topped with Sugared Cranberries. The Perfect Cake for Christmas!

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries

A wonderful rich chocolate cake is enhanced with the addition of red wine which plays beautifully with the sugared cranberries piled on top.
5 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course cake, chocolate, mascarpone, red wine
Cuisine American
Servings 10 Servings
Calories 1120 kcal


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

  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream chilled, divided
  • cup white chocolate grated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 ounces mascarpone cheese chilled

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. Chill.

To Make the Sugared Cranberries

  • Wash cranberries and remove any bad berries.
  • 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.


Do not refrigerate sugared cranberries; putting them in the refrigerator may ruin the hard shell of the sugar. Use immediately or leave at room temperature for no more than a day.


Nutrition Facts
Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Sugared Cranberries
Serving Size
1 Slice
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword cake, chocolate, christmas, cranberries, dessert, holiday, red, sugared, thanksgiving, wine
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  1. Question: How much white chocolate for the frosting? For some reason my browser is displaying it as “? cup white chocolate”

    As an aside, this looks amazing and one of my co-workers just declared it out of our pay grade fancy. Which means I have to make it now, because who can resist that challenge??

    1. You can do this! Not sure why that typo was there but it’s 1/3 cup of grated white chocolate. Good luck!

  2. I believe I remember you mentioning this cake back in October. Or am I fantasizing? Anyway, it’s my fantasy to have a slice of this in front of me! What a wonderful cake — so much flavor. And it looks stunning! I’d share this too — I couldn’t resist slice after slice of this if it was hanging around the house. Which it wouldn’t do for long. 🙂

    1. You are NOT fantasizing; I think you even commented when I said I was going to wait on a cake I had made! You know what I love? This new thing about just putting frosting in between layers. Makes it so easy and yet still looks so pretty. Gives me time to sugar some cranberries. 🙂

  3. What type of red wine do you suggest? What did you use? Son’s bday is Dec 23 and I’m thinking of this for his 32(!) celebration.

    1. Nothing too fancy is necessary. The one I used had a slight sweetness to it but I can’t remember the name! Still I think any Cabernet or Pinot Noir would be good.

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