Enjoy this irresistible Red Wine Chocolate Cake recipe! With its rich, moist layers infused with red wine and topped with a homemade decadent dark chocolate cream cheese frosting, it’s the ultimate treat for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion!
I love any excuse to make a decadent cake. This moist and rich chocolate cake recipe is one of my favorites, but I also LOVE a decadent Carrot Cake and fluffy Strawberry Cake. When I’m craving a quick snack cake, my everyday chocolate cake is my go-to!
Red wine chocolate cake is fudgy, rich, decadent, and pretty much everything you’ll ever want in a slice of chocolate cake! Three layers of moist chocolate cake layers are stacked between layers of rich dark chocolate cream cheese frosting. Make this cake for special occasions like date night, Valentine’s Day, a dinner party, or on a random weeknight because it is delicious and so easy!
Best Chocolate Cake Recipes
Chocolate Cake With Red Wine
Red wine adds a unique flavor and complexity to many savory and sweet dishes. Red wine enhances chocolate cake because it adds subtle fruity undertones and a hint of acidity, which beautifully complements the richness of the chocolate.
Red wine also plays a role in the structure of the cake. The natural sugars and tannins in red wine elevate the cake’s moist and tender texture, resulting in a velvety, rich experience with a hint of sophistication!
The best type of wine to use for chocolate cake is a smooth, fruity red wine with notes of cherry, dark-berry fruits, and spices. Cabernet sauvignon or a red blend are excellent choices!
This red wine chocolate cake recipe is made with dark cocoa for that super chocolatey look and flavor. The cake layers themselves are delicious, velvety, rich, and packed with flavor. The frosting is made with cream cheese, making it not too sweet and extra creamy, which pulls it all together.
It’s the perfect chocolate cake for any special occasion. Enjoy it on its own, or pair it with vanilla ice cream for a delicious treat. With its decadent chocolate flavor and subtle red wine undertones, this cake is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser you’ll make again and again!
- All-Purpose Flour – Makes up the base of the cake, it provides structure and stability to the batter. I recommend using unbleached all-purpose flour, but pastry flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour can be used as well!
- Cocoa Powder – The star ingredient that gives the cake its rich chocolate flavor! Opt for a high-quality cocoa powder to achieve the best taste and texture. Dark chocolate cocoa powder adds an extra depth of flavor and a darker color to the cake, but regular cocoa powder can be used if that’s what you have.
- Baking Soda & Baking Powder – Working together to help the cake rise and achieve a light and fluffy texture.
- Salt – Enhances the flavor of the cake and balances out the sweetness.
- Butter – Adds moisture and richness to the cake, resulting in a tender crumb. Salted butter is best because it doesn’t contain any additives like unsalted butter. Unsalted butter can be used, just add ½ tsp of additional salt.
- Cooking Oil – Contributes to the moistness of the cake and helps keep it soft and tender. Organic canola oil is recommended, but any mild-flavored vegetable oil, melted coconut oil, or very mild olive oil can be used as a substitute.
- Brown Sugar – Adds moisture and a subtle caramel flavor to the cake, resulting in a moist and flavorful crumb. Dark brown sugar intensifies the depth of flavor, but light brown sugar can be used if thats is what you have on hand.
- Eggs – Acts as a binding agent and provides structure to the cake.
- Vanilla Extract – Pure vanilla extract enhances the overall flavor of the cake and adds a warm, aromatic flavor.
- Red Wine – Infuses the cake with a unique flavor, adding depth and complexity to the chocolatey goodness. A red blend works best!
For the frosting:
- Cream Cheese – Forms the base of the frosting, providing a tangy flavor and creamy texture.
- Butter – Adds richness and smoothness to the frosting along with a buttery flavor.
- Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder – Intensifies the chocolate flavor of the frosting, creating a decadent and indulgent topping.
- Powdered Sugar – Used to sweeten and thicken the frosting, creating a smooth and spreadable consistency.
- Milk – A creamy way to adjust the consistency of the frosting, making it easier to spread.
- Vanilla Extract – Adds a subtle sweetness and aroma.
- Salt – Balances out the sweetness and enhances the natural flavor of the frosting ingredients.
- Three 8-inch cake pans
- Parchment paper
- Stand mixer or electric mixer
- Mixing bowls
- Sifter or sieve
- Cooling rack
- Cake stand or serving platter
- Off-set spatulas
- Cake turntable
Step by Step Instructions
- Prepare for baking: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line with parchment paper three 8-inch cake pans. Set aside.
- Combine the dry ingredients: Use a sifter to sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar: Add the butter, oil, and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy for about 10 minutes. This will add air into the butter, making a fluffy cake layer. Make sure your butter is at room temperature!
Add eggs and vanilla: Once the butter and sugar mixture is fluffy, add the eggs and vanilla extract. Bean on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until creamy and well incorporated:
Add wine and dry ingredients: Alternate adding the flour mixture with the red wine, starting and ending on dry ingredients in this pattern: ⅓ dry ingredients → ½ liquids → ½ dry ingredients → remaining liquids → remaining dry ingredients.
Bake: Pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared 8 inch cake pans evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. You can also tell it’s baked fully when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.
Cool: Let the cake cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing and placing it on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Assemble the chocolate cream cheese frosting: Beat the softened cream cheese and butter in a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium speed until combined and fluffy. Add the dark chocolate cocoa powder and mix until the cocoa powder is well combined. Carefully add the confectioner’s sugar and salt, starting at a slow speed and working your way up. Add the milk and vanilla extract, and beat the cream cheese frosting until smooth and fluffy.
Frost the cake: Make sure the cake layers are completely cooled before using the instructions below to frost a layer cake.
Tip: Chill the frosted cake in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before slicing to help set the frosting and make it easier to cut clean slices.
How To Assemble and Frost A Layer Cake
Once the cake layers have cooled and you prepared the frosting, it is time to assemble the cake!
- Place one layer on a cake stand and spread a layer of chocolate frosting on top.
- Use an offset spatula to even out the ganache. Add the second cake layer and spread an even layer of frosting on top.
- Finally top with the remaining cake layer and top with a final layer of frosting.
- Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
- For a decorative touch, you can top the cake with mini chocolate chips, chocolate curls or shavings, chocolate sprinkles, or food-safe flowers.
Substitutions and Flavor Variations
- Gluten Free: Use an all purpose 1:1 cup gluten free baking flour. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur.
- Wine blends: Experiment with different types of red wine, such as merlot or pinot noir, to vary the flavor profile of the cake and find your favorite combination.
- Mocha: Add a teaspoon of espresso powder to the batter to enhance the chocolate flavor and add depth to the cake.
- Ganache: Swap out the cream cheese frosting for a chocolate ganache topping for an extra indulgent finish.
- Spicy: Add a tablespoon of cinnamon or a pinch of cayenne pepper to the batter for a spicy kick that pairs well with the chocolate and red wine.
Storing and Freezing
Storing: Store the cake in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If refrigerated, allow the cake to come to room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Freezing: To freeze the cake, wrap each individual cake layer tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw the cake layers in the refrigerator overnight before assembling and frosting the cake.
Make ahead: Prepare the cake layers as directed, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw the cake layers in the refrigerator overnight before assembling and frosting the cake. The frosting can also be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow the frosting to come to room temperature before using.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature to ensure proper mixing and a smooth chocolate cake batter.
- Sift the dry ingredients, including flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder, to remove any lumps.
- Beat the butter, oil, and sugar together until light and fluffy, which incorporates air into the mixture for a lighter cake texture. This will take about 10 minutes to properly add air into the mixture.
- For best results, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the red wine in stages, mixing until just combined after each addition to avoid overmixing the batter. Overmixing cake batter can lead to dense or tough cakes.
- Allow the cake layers to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, which prevents them from becoming soggy.
- Use room-temperature cream cheese and butter for the frosting to ensure smooth and creamy consistency.
Frequently Asked Questions
You won’t be able to taste any alcohol in this chocolate cake recipe. The red wine compliments the flavor of the chocolate, resulting in a more intense chocolate tasting cake!
While red wine adds a unique flavor to the cake, you can substitute it with brewed coffee or espresso for a mocha-infused variation.
Yes, you can make this recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend in place of regular flour. Make sure all other ingredients used are also gluten-free.
If you make this recipe, take a photo and tag #bakedambrosia on Instagram and Facebook so that I can see your creations and feature them on Instagram! To stay up to date with the latest recipes, follow Baked Ambrosia on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. ♡
Red Wine Chocolate Cake
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 2 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- ½ cup oil
- 2 ¼ brown sugar
- 6 eggs room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups red wine
- 12 oz cream cheese room temperature
- ¾ cup butter room temperature
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup cocoa powder, 2 ½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, ¾ tsp baking powder
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, oil, and brown sugar on medium speed for 10 minutes, until fluffy and light in color.½ cup butter, ½ cup oil, 2 ¼ brown sugar
- Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition.6 eggs, 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the red wine, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.1 ½ cups red wine
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 28-30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, then the milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.12 oz cream cheese, ¾ cup butter, 1 cup cocoa powder, 5 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbsp milk, 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp salt
- Assemble the Cake: Place one cake layer on your cake stand and spread a layer of frosting evenly on top. Repeat with the second layer. Add the third layer on top and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake evenly.
Photos by Asheligh Scott