With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about a dessert that would be a fitting finale to the special dinner I’m planning. I have noticed that several of the wineries I’ve visited lately have recommended replacing the liquid in box brownie mixes with red wine. Knowing that chocolate and red wine are a winning combination, I thought this sounded like an idea worth trying.
I prefer to make my baked goods from scratch so I decided to figure out a recipe, but if you want to take the easy route you can simply replace the liquid in a box brownie recipe with red wine. If you prefer a non-alcoholic version, you could try substituting grape or cranberry juice for the wine/liquid.
After a quick online search, I found a few recipes that pulled the main ingredients together. I routinely use a couple of substitutions that make my sweets a tad healthier–namely coconut oil and stevia. I also decided to play up the berry flavor notes in my Cabernet Sauvignon with the addition of dried cherries. After my adaptations, here is the recipe I came up with:
I almost always substitute coconut oil for butter or other shortenings in baked goods. I find the flavor of coconut oil enhances most desserts, but it has other benefits as well. It is a very healthy medium chain fatty acid with a long shelf life and a high burn point. It is known to have a positive effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some studies even show it assists with weight loss!
Also, I typically substitute half of the sugar in recipes with stevia, a natural plant-based zero calorie sweetener. The particular brand I use is a cup-for-cup substitution and I find it does not drastically change the texture of baked goods when used in combination with sugar. You can eliminate the sugar and use 2 cups of stevia, but beware that there may be a slight aftertaste and the texture will be less dense.
I should point out that there is no need to use an expensive bottle of wine for this recipe. I keep a couple of bottles of inexpensive wines on hand just for cooking. I have often heard television chefs say one should never cook with a wine one wouldn’t want to drink but I take issue with this. I have never noticed an appreciable difference in a bottle of “Two Buck Chuck” vs. a bottle of fine wine when it comes to cooking with wine. I served the brownies warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream accompanied by a nice glass of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The dried cherries compliment the berry flavors in the wine and add a little chewiness, while the chocolate balances the tannins and oak in the Cabernet.
I think my Valentine will be one happy camper come February 14th!