A Valentine’s Day Treat

Chocolate Baby Cakes with Red Wine Chocolate Glaze

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

What tops your list for Valentine’s Day treats?  Here I’ve combined two of my favorites, red wine and chocolate.

Wine experts say, contrary to popular belief, it difficult to find a red wine that drinks well with chocolate. I agree.  To make the two more companionable, I baked them into a dessert that also wear a sweet health halo.   Red wine and chocolate are both sources of flavanols which belong to the larger group of phytochemicals called flavonoids.


WINE: The health benefits of wine, especially red wine, are widely touted.  Consumed in moderation, wine may help prevent or delay heart disease, type II diabetes and other diseases and chronic conditions (Reference 1). Researchers have considered flavonoids among the components of red wine that may be responsible for the “French Paradox,” an observation that some red-wine drinking Mediterranean populations have low incidence of death from cardiovascular disease despite their high intake of saturated fat. (Reference 2).


CHOCOLATE: Chocolate has been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar and improve blood cholesterol levels (Reference 3).  Recent research with cocoa suggests that chocolate may improve blood flow to the brain and have cognitive benefits, too.  (Reference 4).


Not all chocolate is high in these health-promoting flavanols.  As I wrote in my blog, Craving Chocolate posted with Double Chocolate Almond Cookies  seek out unsweetened cocoa (high-flavanol cocoa is also available), unsweetened chocolate and dark chocolate with 70% or more cacoa.


A gift of Waialua Estate Grown 70% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate from Oahu inspired me to make this dessert. Sticking with my good-health theme I use neutral tasting, monounsaturated fat-rich avocado oil for the fat which lets the chocolate flavors shine. Calcium-rich evaporated skim milk lends healthy creaminess to the glaze.  These are tiny cakes so make sure not to over-bake them.  They’re so good for you – you might want two.


Photo br Lorelle Del Matto

Photo br Lorelle Del Matto


Chocolate Baby Cakes with Red Wine Chocolate Glaze

You’ll have a few tablespoons of glaze left over after topping the cakes; reheat and use to drizzle over ice cream, fresh strawberries or cherries. 

1 cup red wine

3 ½ tablespoons avocado, canola or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped, divided use

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup evaporated skim milk

1. Place wine in small saucepan and place over medium heat.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup.  Reserve for use in cakes and glaze.

2.  Adjust oven rack to middle position.  Preheat oven to 375°. Line 15 mini muffin pan cups with paper liners or coat with nonstick cooking spray.

3. To make cakes, measure oil into a 4- cup Pyrex measuring cup or other microwave-safe bowl.  Heat oil in microwave oven on high until hot, about 45 seconds.  Add half (3 ounces) of the chopped chocolate and heat on HIGH for 30 seconds.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Stir until melted (if needed heat for another 10-15 seconds and stir again).   Whisk in vanilla and salt and brown sugar; blend well.  Whisk in egg, then 1/4 cup of the reduced wine.  Whisk in flour, mixing until smooth.  Pour or spoon batter evenly into the prepared 15 mini muffin cups.

4. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until tester inserted in center of a cake comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Do not over-bake. Carefully remove cakes from pan to wire rack to cool.

5. To make glaze, place remaining 1/4 cup reduced red wine in a small saucepan. Cover pan. Warm over medium heat until hot.  Remove from heat, uncover and stir in granulated sugar, then remaining 3 ounces chopped chocolate.  Stir until chocolate melts.  Stir in evaporated skim milk. Blend well. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons warm glaze on top of each chocolate cake.  Makes 15 cakes.


1. Essentials of Nutrition for Chefs, 2nd Edition. Catherine Powers, MS, RD, LD and Mary Abbott Hess, LHD, MS, RD, LDN, FADA. Culinary Nutrition Publishing LLC 2013.

2. Cocoa Flavanols: Nutraceuticals with Promising Pharmacological Properties


3. Choose Dark Chocolate for Health Benefits By Kathleen Doheny

WebMD Health News


4. Drinking Cocoa Boosts Cognition and Blood Flow in the Brain.  Tufts Univerity Health & Nutrition Letter.  November 2013. Vol. 31, No 9.

© 2014 Lorelle Del Matto

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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