Chocolate Spice Cake with White Wine Berry Glaze

White Wine Cake

It’s holiday time! And you know what that means. Dust off that Kool and the Gang record, put on a Christmas scarf, and sing it with me, “Ce-le-brate good times, come on!” Now in your deepest Alto, “It’s a Celebration!”

And really, is there anything better than sparkly Christmas lights, fur trees loaded with ornaments, Elvis singing “Blue Christmas,” and drinking egg nog and/or hot chocolate like it’s your job? Truly, one of the most special times of the year.

And in that state of Christmas joy, I wanted to bake a chocolate cake that tasted like all of those wonderful Christmas feelings: warm and rich, with an unexpected flavor gift in the mix. And who better to parter with in this creative endeavor than uproot? Their Sauvignon Blanc is so versatile, it gave a bright flavor profile to chicken soup and this dessert. Especially perfect for the cinnamon-laced cake is the element of passion fruit the Sauvignon Blanc features- a perfect compliment to the blueberries and raspberries in the berry glaze.

Alright everybody, raise your eggnog-or uproot-glasses high to the best time of the year!

A slice of Christmas cheer

A slice of Christmas cheer

Chocolate Spice Cake with White Wine Berry Glaze

Another great thing about uproot wines is their partnership with Food52– one of my favorite recipe resources- where I went for inspiration in the cake realm. I just added a Christmas spin with a few extra holiday ingredients.

For the Glaze (I listed this first because I suggest you make it first, due to the double-glazing effect we use on this cake.)

What You Will Need

3/4 cup uproot Sauvignon Blanc 

6 ounces fresh blueberries

6 ounces fresh raspberries

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar

What You Will Do

1. In a medium saucepan (make sure you use a larger one than you think you need- your liquid mixture will expand like an over-stuffed Santa when it boils), combine white wine, blueberries, raspberries, vanilla extract, and sugar.

2. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, and let it cook at high heat for at most five minutes. Watch the mixture to make sure it doesn’t overflow the pan. If things get too crazy and you are afraid it is going to bubble over, just go ahead and turn the heat back down to medium or medium-low.

3. Cook on medium heat for about 24 minutes. Make sure and watch your mixture towards the end, stirring frequently to make sure the sugar and berries don’t burn.*

4. Let your glaze cool as you bake the cake.

* To be honest, this cooking time really depends on how thick you would like your glaze to be. I like mine a bit more like jelly so it gives the cake texture and shine; but, if you would like for it to be thinner, cook it on medium-low heat for up to 45 minutes. I also cooked this twice and had different cooking times for the glaze, so really just watch your mixture to see that it cooks to where you want it to be. When it comes to working with liquid sugar, it’s always better to go slowly so you don’t burn off your holiday fingers, as these are vital to your continued recipe success.

For the Cake

  • 1  1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons neutral oil (like corn, canola, or vegetable)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon, but up to your preference)
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used this brand)
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional, for dusting)

What You Will Do

  1. Heat the oven to 350° F and spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
  3. Whisk together the wet and dry mixtures. If lumpy, whisk the mixture until it is smooth.
  4. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate. Whisk together to combine.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan. Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter, or drop from 6 inches to the floor several times to pop air bubbles. Please do not miss this step, as it is really entertaining and will hopefully make your cake hole-less! Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (mine took 28 minutes), or until the top springs back when pressed gently.
  6. Your cake may have a darker brown ring around the edges; that’s ok. That’s what we have that gorgeous glaze for!
  7. Once the cake is removed from the oven, place it on a cooling rack. Poke tiny holes throughout the cake with a toothpick or fork, going about 3/4 of the way to the bottom.
  8. Spread a thin glaze of white wine berry mixture over the cake, making sure to cover the entire cake surface. This will help infuse some of the berry flavor inside of the cake as it cools.
  9. Once your cake has cooled completely, turn it out onto your serving platter.
  10. Spread the rest of your berry glaze on the top of the cake, working from the center out. Sift confectioners sugar on top if desired for extra celebratory pizazz.
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Fig Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Fig cake wrapped in glorious cream-cheese icing.

“The best way to work through a post-Thanksgiving food coma involves a cup of black coffee and fig layer cake.”

This was my original opening line, as I attempted to post/write this on Thanksgiving day.

“Yes, I have already had a slice. Yes, my stomach feels so full that I can not move. But, this cake- y’all- my family and I had a moment.”

That was my second line. And then- the tryptohan from the turkey kicked in, I actually did fall into a food coma, and slept for a day.

Fig cake in a dream sequence.

But now, here we are, four days later- and my mind has cleared (a bit).

The nutty, slightly salty richness of pistachios layered between sweet figs and topped off with a light layer of cream cheese frosting is remarkable. This has won top honors as my next go-to, impress-your-neighbor cake. And it should be yours too. It was easy to make, involves three simple recipes (or two, if you are like me, bribed your co-worker, and used fig preserves instead of making your own fig compote) and turns out beautifully.

My incredible photographer-brother took this for me. It was way more beautiful than mine, so it fits here.

Fig Layer Cake (This recipe was taken from one of my favorite websites, DesignSponge)

For the Fig Compote:

Sweet talk your incredibly generous co-worker into a can of fig preserves in exchange for brown butter banana bread.

If you don’t have an incredibly generous co-worker who does his own canning, you can make your own.

What You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups whole dried figs
1 1/2 cups water
the juice of one orange (about 1/3 cup)
a couple dashes of salt
2 tablespoons honey

What You Will Do:

Chop figs into small chunks, about the size of peanuts.  Cook in a saucepan with water, juice, and salt until figs are soft and water is evaporated, about 20 minutes.  Add honey and cook for a minute more.  Let cool.

For the Pistachio Olive Oil Cake:

What You Will Need:

1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp lemon juice

What You Will Do:

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Place pistachios in a food processor.  Pulse them until they are the texture of small gravel (about the size of a half-pea); remove about half of the gravel-sized pieces.  Pulse the rest of the nuts until they are the texture of coarse sand.

In a bowl, combine finely ground pistachios, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Stir until well combined.  Pour mixture into an electric mixer, then add oil and milk.  Beat with an electric mixer until blended.  Add eggs and lemon juice and beat until mixed.  Stir in the coarsely ground pistachios.

Pour batter into greased pan.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown, and inserted knife comes out clean.  Let cool.

For the cream cheese frosting:

What You Will Need:

1/2 stick butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups confectioners sugar

What You Will Do:

1/2 stick butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups confectioners sugar

Mash ingredients together until roughly combined.  Beat with an electric mixer on high until creamy and well-combined. This method is my new favorite and guarantees really fluffy icing. I may or may not have tasted it multiple times, just to be sure.

To assemble the cake:

Make the fig compote filling first. Let it cool.

Make the pistachio-olive oil cake. Let it cool.

Make the icing. Try not to eat it.

Once the cake has cooled, slice it in half horizontally with a serated knife. Spoon your fig preserves over the bottom cake layer, smashing the figs evenly into the cake. If you made the fig compote, you can spread that evenly too. Then, put your other cake layer on top of the fig layer, and ice the whole thing generously with the cream cheese frosting. Top with sliced dried figs and extra pistachios.