Blackberry Cabernet Cupcakes

My friends are hosting a Valenwine’s Party tonight to celebrate Valentine’s Day with wine tasting. Most people think of cheese and crackers and other charcuteries, but I go straight to the cupcakes. When I found this recipe for Blackberry Cabernet Cupcakes, I knew what I’d be taking to the party.

The first bottle of wine I picked up for this recipe was Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. How appropriate, I thought. But then I saw this bottle of Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet that made me swap.

Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet Red Wine 2012 CaliforniaAccording to the description on the label, “This wine shows a heady nose of chocolate, deep rich blackberries, red fruits, and a creamy mocha finish that is unmistakable in its intensity and length. It’s reminiscent of a blackberry chocolate cupcake with a mocha coulis.” Sounds perfect for making blackberry chocolate cupcakes, right?

Of course, we had to taste the wine first as a safety precaution. The cocoa and mocha flavors were unmistakable, with dark hints of berry. I had to pour a cup aside to save for the recipe to make sure we didn’t drink it all!

ingredients to make chocolate cabernet cupcakes from scratch

Chocolate Cabernet Cupcakes:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cabernet sauvignon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Cream butter and sugar till smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Combine flour and baking powder separately, and add to batter. Pour in red wine and mix well, being careful not to overmix. Add cocoa powder. Scoop batter into cupcake tins lined with papers, and bake 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When cupcakes are cool, brush tops with additional cabernet sauvignon (uses about 2 tablespoons.)

blackberry cabernet sauce for frosting

Blackberry Cabernet Frosting:

1 cup blackberries
½ cup cabernet sauvignon
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Bring blackberries and cabernet to a simmer in a small saucepan. Reduce until wine thickens to syrup and berries mash easily. Strain out seeds. Remaining liquid should total about ¼ cup.

Beat butter with mixer till creamy. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk (may need slightly more or less of each) to reach thick consistency. Add blackberry cabernet sauce and mix well. I added more powdered sugar at this point, but the frosting was still runny. It’s easier to spread with a knife than to try to pipe on.

Press a blackberry into the center of each frosted cupcake and serve. Happy Valenwine’s Day!

chocolate blackberry cabernet cupcakes for Valentine's Day

chocolate blackberry cabernet cupcakes for Valentine's Day

 

Oh, and this is what my recipe notebook looked like after baking (so you can imagine what the rest of my kitchen looked like):

messy recipe notebook after baking blackberry cabernet cupcakes

Valentine’s Day $50 Dinner Date

For Valentine’s Day this year, we went back to the Middle Eastern eatery where we had our first date. More than two years ago, we shared hummus and falafel at Aladdin’s Eatery before a movie at Crocker Park.

Let’s face it – you can’t really top last year’s homemade crab leg dinner for Valentine’s Day. So it was best to follow that with something simple and sweet.

As an added plus, Aladdin’s had a Valentine’s Day special: $30 for an appetizer, a dessert, and two entrees. Of course, there was hummus and falafel, and some tasty Lebanese dishes I can’t pronounce that drown in the memory of conversation. And, for another $20, a bottle of wine.

Forget the roses – one of my favorite features at Aladdin’s is the bouquet. On each table sits a vase of recycled flowers fashioned from circles of industrial plastic remnants, crafted by a local shop down the street. Quaint, retro, local and best of all: repurposed.

And then, just when I think I can’t eat any more: dessert. It’s usually baklava at Aladdin’s, but this Valentine’s meal came with a Chocolate Truffle Heart – which I could eat all of five bites before richness overload. Of course, I kept eating anyway – long after the beau backed down. But I did manage to save a few bites for the trip home the next day – which didn’t last long.

Valentine’s Dinner and Continued Surprises

I had no plans for Valentine’s this year, which is the only reasonable way to spend the day. We celebrated on V-eve with his preparation of crab legs and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and my contribution of quinoa with raspberry vinaigrette. Just, wow.

Quinoa Recipe: (coming soon)
And, of course, starters of salad, accompanied by Perrier and Champagne, all set off with a red tablecloth — sexy. Then, we watched (I should say, he let me watch) the new episode of AMC’s Walking Dead. How’s that for romance?
It was a delightful Valentine’s, and it’s all I expected.
On Valentine’s Day, around lunch time, one of the girls at work came back to my cube and told me that my boyfriend was out in the lobby. My coworkers said they’d never seen me move so fast and run out the door. There he was, with a bouquet of a dozen red roses.

Not just flowers, but a vase to put them in, too.

So Valentine’s Day ended up not just a fancy crab leg dinner, but also a surprise in-person delivery of a bunch of gorgeous roses. And not even just that, but still another surprise the next day:
Chocolate covered (and drizzled) strawberries from Pickwick & Frolic.