SHF: Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

I sort of put off this SHF for some time, mainly because I'm indecisive like that. And in a flash of inspiration suddenly, I thought I'd just make an unusual paired flavor thing - namely, these chocolate cabernet cupcakes I've always been intrigued by. Only there was no cabernet, but by that point I was too far sold on it, so off I went in search of alternatives. Lo and behold, there seems to be one single recipe for chocolate merlot cake on the entire web, so I thought that clearly that must be the one.
I had visions of perfect, lovely little cupcakes, with a luscious chocolate taste and a background of winey-ness - and not only that, a surprise inside of black cherry and wine jelly nestled in as an extra treat.
Well. Life is full of surprises. Not to be too anthropomorphic about it, but the cupcakes apparently had other plans and ideas of their own on how to be presented, and did not feel like cooperating. The tops came out nicely, as did the bottoms, but unfortunately not at the same time. Surprise!

the stubborn, sorry lot of misfits
Somehow, when you unmold a whole cupcake and split it down the center to reveal its insides, it can be artsy and elegant; when the cupcake does it for you, especially not in the direction you might have chosen, it is rather less so.
Following the advice of previous recipe reviewers, I did add more butter than originally called for, though I don't think that's the culprit - I think here overfilling is the problem. Perhaps, with filling the cups less full, it might have solved the splitting problem. Nearly every one split in the same place, at the juncture of the well and edge, and with less filling, less overflow, maybe less splitting.N.B.: you may wish then to make additional wine jelly to ensure you can fill all the cupcakes. I did have some leftover batter, which I used to make some miniatures. Though it's not quite a good comparison, I did fill the cups less full and they turned out better. With these I didn't bother buttering and cocoacing, but sprayed it with nonstick spray. I actually think the butter/cocoa does a better job of it, but might also consider dabbing a bit of spray or butter above and around the edges of each well to prevent tops from sticking also.

the rather more well-behaved relations, sans jelly filling

Lest you be put off by their unruly appearances, I do feel obligated to say on behalf of the cupcake components that they're really quite tasty - dark and close-to-but-not-dense fudgy, with the gorgeous red-brown crumb from the cocoa. I'd have no hesitation in making the full cake with the wine jelly sandwiched between for an impressive and unusual finale, but perhaps they weren't at full potential here.

adapted from Anne Willan's Chocolate Merlot Cake recipe and reviewer comments on Epicurious

2 c flour
3/4 c good-quality Dutch cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks/1 c butter
1 3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c Merlot wine
wine jelly
heaping 1/2 c Polaner black cherry all-fruit spread
3 Tbsp Merlot wine

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter (at least 12, and likely more) standard muffin tins and dust with cocoa powder.
Make the wine jelly: carefully melt together the all-fruit spread and wine in a small saucepan over medium heat until smooth, about 7 or so minutes. Remove and let cool a bit.
Sift twice together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
In a mixer cream together the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape the beater, until combined (light and fluffy and pale golden). Add in the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Mixin the vanilla and cream together an additional minute or two until all is smooth.
Sift a third of the flour mixture over the butter mixture and fold in carefully. Pour over and fold in a third of the wine. Repeat, alternating the remaining flour mixture and wine in two batches.
What I did: fill the muffin tins about half full and push batter to the sides to make a small well. Add about 2 tsp of the wine jelly mixture. Spoon over batter to fill the rest of the cup to the brim. Additional batter may be used to make small cupcakes.
What I suggest you do instead: fill the muffin tin about a third full, pushing batter to the sides to make a small well if you like. Add 1-2 tsp jelly as you like. Cover with batter to fill each tin about 2/3 full.
Bake in the heated oven about 20 minutes, checking after 15. If you make miniatures, they will take just about 10-12 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before, very carefully, attempting to turn them out onto a rack to cool fully.


Blogger Laura Rebecca said...

I'm sorry the recipe didn't come out as expected but your cupcakes still look delicious! (Good recipe idea!) They seem so chocolatey and decadent; I'd love to taste one.

It's a great SHF submission.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Alanna Kellogg said...

Hi Emily ~ Oh dear, it's always so disappointing when we have high hopes and well, they just break apart like cupcakes. Your suggestions are great, I hope you put them on Epicurious, too since so many of us rely on them. Thanks so much for doing Sugar High Friday, your next entry, I'm sure, will turn out perfectly! PS Look for the round-up later today or tomorrow.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you for not giving up! I love the end result ... nice pairing!

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My cupcakes only broke apart once - the one time I tried baking without using lining papers. Needless to say, I was so disappointed that it hasn't happened again.

If it's any consolation, they do indeed sound fantastic, and verily tasty :D

4:24 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

hi emily!
haha - how peculiar! - we had almost EXACTLY the same idea for a great SHF surprise, and both went wrong(!) (check my SHF brownie explosions...!)
love your thinking + nice entry ;)

11:52 AM  
Blogger emily said...

Laura Rebecca - Thank you - they are pretty decadent! In that sense, I'm almost glad they fell apart, as it prevents me from eating a whole one at once.

Alanna - I'm so glad you hosted! I enjoyed this one.

Ivonne - Thanks for cheering me on!

Ellie - I've almost entirely given up on cupcake liners, but maybe I'll have to try them again - thanks for the tip.

Julia - That's incredible! I enjoyed reading about your 'surprises' as well.

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