Chocolate + Wine = LOVE

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:

Chop 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate into roughly the same size pieces for even melting.

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.

This recipe uses only a half a cup of wine so I will use the rest in stew that I plan to make the next day.
I used dried Bing cherries which have a good balance of sweetness and tartness. Give them a coarse chop before adding to the batter.

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!





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