Earlier this month, our friend Mrs. Bronson celebrated her birthday. Before I came into the picture, Mrs. Bronson was a proxy girlfriend/wife for The Boy. She made sure he had an occasional home-cooked meal – a foreign concept for a bachelor with beer, mustard, and 3-year old cranberry juice as the only contents of his fridge and chicken caesar wraps from Whole Foods for dinner nightly.
Mrs. Bronson also made sure The Boy had a social life; she and her now-husband didn’t seem to mind having this perpetual third wheel. Activities included golfing, sailing with the skipper, baseball games, and many (many) drinking opportunities (Napa, bars, they weren’t picky). One story The Boy tells over and over involves the Bronsons and The Boy at a pinot noir tasting event. When they bought tickets to go, they didn’t realize it would be the three of them and 47 pinot noir growers and bottlers. They didn’t let this stop them, they sampled dozens of pinots (no spitting) and walked away tipsy and flashing purple smiles.
Since moving here, I’ve gotten to see first hand Mrs. Bronson’s kindness and hospitality towards others. Despite her grueling work life (did I mention she’s a kickass attorney?), her house is usually the site for miscellaneous holidays and game watches. With this in mind, I set out to find something special to make for her birthday. When I saw a recipe for red wine chocolate cake from Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had a winner. The recipe is pretty simple and you can use any red wine; I used pinot noir in honor of their epic tasting.
Cheers Mrs. Bronson!
Red Wine Chocolate Cake
from Smitten Kitchen
6 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup red wine*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. table salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
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.
I just dusted with powder sugar, if you check out the original recipe you will find directions to make a mascarpone topping.
*The red wine won’t cook all the way out, so use something you find tasty.