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Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

Photograph by The Naptime Chef

For Valentine’s Day take your favorite chocolate cupcakes up a notch with the addition of Merlot. It may seem a little unusual at first, but the red wine adds a decadent deep red berry flavor to the chocolate. It takes them from ordinary cupcakes, to sexy little numbers you can’t wait to share with your partner after the kids are asleep, in a heartbeat.

There is no special method to adding the wine, it really only takes a little extra stirring. If you sneak a taste of the batter you’ll instantly be able to detect the flavor. But don’t worry about the alcohol; it bakes off in the oven. So when they’ve cooled you’ll still be able to taste the fruity flavors without actually imbibing.

I top these sweet little cakes with whipped vanilla frosting showered with edible gold sprinkles. The dark chocolate and white contrast is insanely chic and the vanilla flavor is the perfect counterpart to the rich cake. These beauties are sure to round out any romantic feast at home. And be sure to sip the rest of the Merlot alongside, too!

RECIPE: Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

Yields 1 dozen


  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup Merlot
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup Merlot
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Gold sprinkles or similar for topping


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees f. Line a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside. In a large bowl milk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisky the egg, oil, and sugar until smooth. Then beat in the butter until light and fluffy. Whisk in the wine and vanilla until completely combined. Working slowly, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk in three parts until the batter is smooth and the flour is no longer visible. Fold in the semisweet chocolate chips.
  3. Dollop batter into the lined muffin tips until the tins are each ¾ full. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  4. To make the frosting, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Then beat in the wine and vanilla extract. Top each cupcake with a generous amount of frosting, shower with sprinkles, and serve.

Recipe via The Naptime Chef

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