Boston no longer has sidewalks, just tunnels between towering walls of snow. And the walls just keep growing, as another blizzard is making its way toward the city this weekend. So I took off, tagging along with some friends to the still snow-covered hills of Vermont. Maybe we should have driven south instead of north?
Instead, we’re embracing the cold: I’m sitting in front of a wood-burning stove, snuggling with a fat white cat, and eating these cupcakes. If it has to be winter, this is how to do it right.
Although inspired by Valentine’s day, these cupcakes can hold their own anytime you want to make them–like right now. Playing on buttermilk in chocolate cake, these cupcakes use red wine as the acid, and they’re lovely. The raspberry sauce (which, for the record, would also make an incredible ice cream sundae) brings in more red wine and dresses up these simple cupcakes for a special occasion.
But the true discovery here is the whipped ricotta. It doesn’t really need much whipping, just a minute or so with a whisk and a touch of sugar delivers the simplest cupcake topping you can make. Rich, fluffy, and just slightly tangy, it was the perfect complement to the intense chocolate and acidic fruit. This will make another appearance in my kitchen for sure.
- ¾ c. red wine
- 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ⅓ c. cocoa powder
- 4 T. butter, softened
- ¾ c. dark brown sugar
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 c. flour
- ½ t. baking powder
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. baking soda
- RASPBERRY-WINE SAUCE
- ½ c. frozen raspberries
- ½ c. red wine
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 t. vanilla
- Pinch salt
- 1 T. butter
- WHIPPED RICOTTA
- 1½ c. whole-milk ricotta
- 1½ t. sugar
- ¼ t. vanilla
- Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or place muffin liners in a muffin tin.
- Heat the red wine in a small pot until just bubbling around the edges, then pour over the chocolate and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Pour over the chocolate and cocoa powder in a small bowl and stir briefly. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until lightened. Mix in the oil, then the eggs and vanilla. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir into the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake until the center springs back when touched, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Make the raspberry-wine sauce: Cook the raspberries, wine, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low and mash the raspberries with the back of a spoon. Reduce the sauce by about half, until you have ½ cup total. Stir in the butter at the end.
- Make the whipped ricotta: Combine all ingredients and whip until the ricotta holds its shape and is fluffy, about one minute.
- Assemble the cupcakes: When the cupcakes are cool, top them with a dollop of whipped ricotta and pour raspberry-wine sauce on top. Share with someone you love.