I got The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas! (Further proving, as I’ve already mentioned, that my friends and family know me pretty darn well. I love it.) Since my wonderful friend Micheal is the one who gifted me this glorious text, I found it only fitting that I use a dinner she was hosting at her place as the occasion for me to prepare my first recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Micheal was preparing an incredible shrimp and sweet potatoes dish as the entree, and I’d volunteered to bring a dessert. And so, the hunt for the perfect inaugural (and sweet) recipe began! After a good amount of deliberation, I settled on Smitten Kitchen’s Red Wine Velvet Cake with Whipped Marscapone Icing. I mean, come on — red velvet cake, only slightly grown up*? Yes, please. *The red wine doesn’t completely bake out of this cake, so it really is for adults only. Sorry, kiddos! Though my final product didn’t turn out quite as lovely as Deb’s three-layer, iced-only-between-each-layer version (I had to abandon one layer that didn’t come out of the pan too cleanly and frosted the entire surviving two layers to help hide some of the slightly torn edges), the cake tastes quite delicious. It’s delightfully complex and sweet but not overly so. This one’s a keeper. (Kevin Keller, when given a sample of the cake, declared it “possibly the best cake I’ve ever eaten,” and then specifically asked that I NOT share tonight’s leftovers with my co-workers. Sorry, Mullenites!)
Ingredients (for cake):
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups red wine of your choice* (I went with a bottle of Kirkland’s Cabernet Sauvignon from Costco, which Kevin and I had been wanting to try anyway. It was good, by the way!)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
*Note: Speaking from experience, it’s a really good idea to bake this cake in the afternoon/evening so you have a plenty good excuse to sip on a glass of wine while baking. After all, you just opened a WHOLE bottle and just used two cups. You don’t want the rest to go to waste, do you?
Ingredients (for icing):
- 16 ounces marscapone cheese (I found mine at Trader Joe’s next to the cream cheese)
- 2 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Directions (for cake):
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans (both the parchment and exposed sides). (Does anyone else HATE cutting out parchment paper to line the bottoms of pans? The worst. I bet these things come pre-cut, and I would totally pay for that. I’ll look into it.)
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy (about three minutes). Add the eggs and beat well, then add the red wine and vanilla. (Deb from Smitten Kitchen told me not to worry if the batter looked uneven, which was a good thing to mention, as mine definitely did look weird.)
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together right over the wet ingredients. Mix until three-quarters combined, then fold the rest of the batter together using a rubber spatula.
- Divide batter between three pans (each pan should receive roughly 2 1/2 cups of batter) and bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester (in my case, a toothpick) comes out clean.
- Cool in pan on top of a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
Directions (for icing):
- In a mixing bowl, beat the marscapone with the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy (about two minutes).
- Once cake is cooled completely, ice away! (If your layers turned out more lovely than mine, go for Deb’s three-layered “filling” approach rather than icing the whole cake, which I ended up doing.)
I have the distinct feeling I’ll be making this cake again in the very near future. It’s dangerously delicious.