And the award goes to…
Inspired by Hollywood’s biggest night, this red wine chocolate naked cake definitely brings the glitz and the glam! When I think Oscar desserts, I think elegant, I think fun and I think red wine. It’s got to be sweet, a little bold, totally photo ready, and comforting enough that you and your friends cannot wait to dig in while you’re all critiquing the red carpet arrivals like you’re on an episode of Fashion Police!
That’s a tall order, but this cake delivers! As soon as I baked the chocolate layer cake filled with an entire cup of Cabernet, I knew we were on to something good. I mean, how could we not be?
The Cabernet enhances the chocolate cake beautifully and is bold enough to stand out, kind of like a best supporting actor. It has underlying notes of blackberries and a smooth, velvety quality that just kind of sings when it’s paired with chocolate. The aroma alone will have you sneaking a bite before it even cools…
The vanilla bean mascarpone filling complements the cake beautifully. It’s decadent yet light at the same time, and the vanilla bean flavor enhances all the notes floating around in the chocolate cake. It’s one of those put the spoon down and step away from the bowl type of situations if you get my drift.
The most important tip I want to give you about the mascarpone frosting is to make sure it is very stiff when you fill the cake. It’s like a richer, more luscious whipped cream filling, so you need to make sure it has its act together before building the cake!
I originally planned on frosting the cake generously, but as it started to take shape, I knew it should be a naked cake – something very clean with a striking simplicity to it. At that time, I also had a saucepan of red wine simmering away, reducing down to shiny gloss, letting me know it was supposed to be the focal point of the cake, adorning the top and drizzling down the sides.
My other big tip on this cake is to make sure you reduce the red wine down to a 1/4 cup, until it’s nice and glossy and syrupy. After I made it, I had one of those maybe this reduction is too thick moments causing me to make another batch reducing down to 1/3 of a cup instead. I can now tell you that 1/4 cup is the way to go – always listen to your first instinct! Definitely not the end of the world, but I found 1/3 of a cup was a bit (like a sliver) too runny – and this is me being super OCD, but that’s how I roll.
You also want to make sure that the reduction is room temp when you drizzle it over the cake so it can drip and go where it may on its own with very little zhushing.
While it’s definitely pretty to look at, just wait until you cut into it – pure heaven! I hope you guys love this one and don’t forget to share your bakes with me on Instagram and Facebook – I LOVE seeing them!
Thanks so much for reading and happy baking!
- 3/4 cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 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 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup red wine - I used Cabernet
- 16 ounces mascarpone
- 16 ounces heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup sweet red wine
- 4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottoms of 3 (8") cake pans with parchment rounds and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl sift together cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip eggs and vegetable oil on medium speed for about 3 minutes until combined.
- Slowly add in sugar, continuing to mix on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes until mixture gets pale in color.
- Reduce speed to low and mix in milk and vanilla extract.
- Add in dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Pour in wine and stir to combine.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. This is approximately 1# of batter in each pan.
- Bake cakes for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cakes start to pull away from the sides.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip heavy cream, mascarpone and vanilla bean paste until soft peaks start to form.
- Add powdered sugar and continue mixing until stiff. Make sure frosting is stiff before filling the cake!
- Bring wine and sugar up to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low and let simmer down to about 1/4 cup liquid. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reduce and get thick and syrupy. Make sure you keep a close eye on it!
- Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before drizzling over the cake.
- Place first chocolate cake layer on either a cake cardboard, plate, or cake stand.
- Top with about 1 cup of the mascarpone frosting and speed evenly.
- Repeat with remaining cake layers.
- Frost cake with remaining buttercream and refrigerate at least 30 minutes so the frosting has adequate time to chill and set up before topping with the reduction.
- Pour or spoon red wine reduction on top of cake and allow it to drip down the sides.
- Refrigerate cake.