And the award goes to…
It was about 8 o’clock at night and there I was standing at the kitchen island, staring at the red wine cake. To be honest, there was no plan going into this. I was having a few friends over to watch the Oscars, decided earlier in the day I’d bake my go-to red wine chocolate cake in a 9×13 pan to make life easy, and figured the rest would come to me.
Somewhere in between pouring red wine into the batter and thinking about all the pretty sprinkles sitting in the pantry just waiting for their day to come, it struck me – the ruffle dress! I remembered seeing a sketch of a magnificent ruffle dress, designer Lori Goldstein posted on her Instagram a few years back. It was from a selection of looks she wanted to see actresses in for an Oscar story in the Los Angeles Times. From the moment I saw that sketch, all I could think was buttercream. The dress in the sketch was peach and it was lush, with ruffles upon ruffles, and now it was time to see if I could create something similar with buttercream.
I immediately got some blackberries on the stove to make a compote, knowing the berries would both accentuate the fruity undertones in the red wine, and add a fantastic color to the buttercream. Next, I grabbed every ounce of butter I had on hand out of the fridge. Did I have enough? This dress was going to require a lot of ruffles! Broke the cardinal rule about not warming butter in the microwave, because A. It was like a rock, B. After 8 o’clock at night, and C. Because when I’ve got an idea, rules be damned!
Next thing the powdered sugar was flying, and the blackberry compote was bubbling. At this point I was pretty much skipping around the kitchen envisioning this buttercream dress that I feel like Lady Gaga would totally wear! I added a smidge of the cooled compote to the buttercream, yielding a beautiful light pink, almost lilac color, which I used for the base.
To create the actual dress, I added another spoon of the compote for a more intense color, and ended up with something I want to paint every wall in my house with. I filled the piping bag, piped a little warm up ruffle on my spatula, stared at the cake for a good 7-8 minutes, and finally got over myself and went for it. About 10 minutes later, the buttercream dress I’d been envisioning was staring back at me.
The only thing left was to give it a little zhush, so it was off to the sprinkle closet to accessorize. I was wishing I had blush sprinkles, but if you know me, every sprinkle I own is bright, brighter, or blinding! I grabbed my metallic sprinkle rods (when in doubt!) and just as I turned around, there was the ruby chocolate I’d ordered and forgotten all about! Stop it right now!
The small chocolate discs were the perfect shade of blush, and with their sweet yet zippy raspberry undertone, the perfect accompaniment to the cake. I strategically placed them all around the cake, along with an army of metallic doo dads (this took me the longest out of anything in my entire life – like ever!), dusted the whole thing with edible sparkles, and just stood there thrilled to bits with the first piece from my Buttercream Blondie Spring collection.
I can so see Lady Gaga in this.
If you’re not up to piping a dress, you’ve got options. My intention with this cake was to create an easy dessert you can whip up for anything: Last minute dinner party, girl’s night, Galentine’s Day, the sun came out 2 days in a row! I just have a knack for taking simple all the way to Hollywood… This cake is brilliant with a good shmear of frosting and some sprinkles, or some fresh blackberries. The highlight here is how it tastes. The chocolate cake is light and the Cabernet is bold enough to come through, but not take over. The fruity undertones in the wine are enhanced by the blackberry buttercream, and will definitely have you going back to this recipe again and again! I added some extra notes in the recipe, and for all of you who’ve been asking me to add a photo with the recipe, you got it!
Happy baking! xo
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. espresso powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup red wine - I used Cabernet
- 6 ounces unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- 2 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. heavy cream
- 1-2 tbsp. blackberry compote
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Spray once more and set aside.
- Add cocoa powder, flour, sugar, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low speed to combine ingredients.
- Add eggs, vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract, and mix on low speed to combine ingredients. Increase speed to medium low and mix for about 1 minute, until batter is smooth.
- Scrape down the bowl, add the red wine, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until cake pulls away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and salt on medium speed until softened. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla, cream and blackberry compote, and continue to mix on medium-low speed until combined.
The blackberry buttercream is enough to frost the 9x13-inch cake regularly. If you want to create your own Oscar gown, or cover the top with rosettes, you will need to double the buttercream recipe. I suggest adding 1 tbsp. of blackberry compote at a time to the buttercream until you achieve the flavor and color you want.