A Look Back & Red Wine Chocolate Cake

2011 has really been the most bittersweet year for me, in so many ways. I started the year by moving to St Louis, and that was very sweet (despite the bitter winter). I rented my very own apartment (sans roommates) for the very first time and it was wonderful to be an adult and handle everything on my own. I also took the time to explore and really fall in love with the city. Food Truck Fridays, Taste, Brasserie, all the farmer's markets, Soulard, and of course, Forest Park, which never ceases to amaze me every time I venture upon it.

I have some really wonderful friends who took the time to visit me, (which they all regret now since I've found much cooler things to show them, long past their visits). I had nine different visits from friends throughout the year! It kept me on my toes and gave me something to look forward to. 

My relationship with Joe also strengthened with the move, and we eventually rescued a really cute dog, which has been a pretty crazy adventure all on its own. Around this time, I discovered I could make macarons en masse and started selling them to a specialty grocery store within the year. 
The bitter definitely came from my mom's breast cancer diagnosis, but the bright side is that my family has  become much closer, and I've strengthened my bond with all of them, especially with my mother.

On to the cake!
I made this red wine chocolate cake after I caught it on my favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen. She created this cake after being inspired by one of her commenters who wrote that they replaced the buttermilk in a recipe with red wine. In her mind and mine, this is a true "red velvet" cake. It's tinged red from the wine and is soft and fudgy. SK includes a whipped mascarpone topping but I left this dusted with powdered sugar and found it to be absolutely delightful, as is.

This is an excellent 'everyday' cake to bring to a friend's house or a party, since it's a one-bowl recipe and it bakes so quickly. The cake is soft and moist, with a strong flavor of wine. I don't even like red wine but I really enjoyed the taste. It's something very unique and unmistakably different from other chocolate cakes, and people may have a bit of an amusingly difficult time placing the flavor! I used very cheap red wine from Aldi (I believe it was about $5 for the bottle).

Red Wine Chocolate Cake
From SK

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (179 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar 
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar 
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 
3/4 cup (177 ml) red wine, any kind you like 
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract 
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder 
1/8 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon table salt 
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the cake:  
Preheat the oven to 325°F. 
Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray. 
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. 
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. 
Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. 
This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.

I feel like I've matured so much in the past year. For a long time, I still felt like a child who didn't know what she was doing. But now I feel wiser, and stronger, especially now that I feel like I've found my calling, and more settled, more secure. I used to be someone who resisted change and constantly reflected on the past, but no more. Sometimes I would love to go back to being 14, with no worries or obligations, but I try to appreciate that I had those times and moments already, and just look forward instead. 
So here's to a happy new year to you, dear readers! 
And in case the Mayans are right, make it count!


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