This boozy twist on a classic chocolate layer cake is made with red wine for a rich and robust chocolate cake with unique fruity undertones and an incredible depth of flavor unlike any other chocolate cake you’ve had before.
Three layers of moist, deeply chocolate cake, with blackberry preserves and a fluffy vanilla bean buttercream in between, and a drizzle of dark chocolate glaze for a dramatic effect that’s as easy as it is impressive. Top it with some gold-brushed blackberries for some serious flair!
Taylor recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and it felt appropriate to re-make one of our all-time favorite cake recipes (and yours too!) This cake was first made back in 2012, 11 years ago to the day actually (scroll down to the bottom to see the original photos if you’re looking for a laugh). Since then it’s been made and loved by countless readers and fans, for birthdays and celebrations and non-celebrations alike.
Why is it so beloved? Other than being gosh darn delicious, and easy to boot, I suspect the glamor of red wine adds to the mystique of this recipe. It just sounds fancy, doesn’t it? At its most basic it is a classic chocolate layer cake, yes, but the red wine brings out the fruity notes of the chocolate, adding a unique depth of flavor that makes for a truly unforgettable cake. Add to that a layer of blackberry preserves, a fluffy vanilla bean buttercream, and a drizzle of dark chocolate glaze… what you end up with is simply perfection (frankly there’s no other way to put it).
Y’all know I love me some boozy baking, and tipsy cakes are one of my favorite kinds. From Kirsch to beer to bourbon to more bourbon. It was only a matter of time before I started hitting the red wine. I mean, red wine and chocolate go together like Darcy and Elizabeth, so it seemed like an obvious choice.
Simply swapping the liquid (typically hot water or coffee) in a classic chocolate cake recipe with the dark and fruity red wine produced a decadently moist chocolate cake unlike anything I’ve ever had before. Subtle notes of fruit came through the rich dark chocolate, tantalizing the palette without screaming “Hey! Look at me, I taste like wine!” Layered with blackberry preserves and whipped vanilla buttercream, and topped with a dramatic chocolate ganache drizzle, this definitely isn’t your typical chocolate cake.
Since it’s made with oil, the cake itself is ridiculously moist (and will stay that way for days), with a robust chocolate flavor and a perfect balance of sweetness, even when topped with an American-style buttercream (which can often be far too sweet, here it’s just right!)
Cake storage tip: After slicing, press a piece of parchment or plastic wrap over the cut sides. Since it’s awfully hard to find a container that fits an entire cake, this tip will let you store the cake on a plate uncovered in the fridge without drying out too much.
50 Shades of Buttercream
Much like the myriad shades of white in a paint store, plain vanilla buttercream can range from snow white to creamy ivory to pale butter yellow, depending on a number of factors.
You’ll notice my buttercream is very off-white, a result of my using organic butter (which is yellower), and organic powdered sugar (which isn’t as white). Compared to the much whiter buttercream of the original cake photos, which you can still see down below the recipe card (although that’s somewhat of an illusion since I shot it on a red background which makes the off-white seem brighter).
To make pure white buttercream, use unflavored vegetable shortening in place of butter, conventional powdered sugar and clear vanilla extract (or the seeds from a vanilla bean). When you see pure white wedding cakes, they are most definitely made with shortening. If you want the flavor of butter, you’ll have to accept the color won’t be quite as bright.
You can also buy white food coloring, which contains titanium dioxide (the same stuff from the thick white sunscreen from yesteryear). You need quite a bit of it (more than a few drops most definitely), but it will help whiten off-white buttercreams a little bit. I wish I had used some here, but that’s was not a good enough reason to make a whole new cake.
If you’re coloring your buttercream anything other than white, keep in mind that colors will darken slightly when refrigerated. That’s actually true for white buttercream as well, actually!
Drizzle It, Just a Little Bit
The chocolate glaze makes for a dramatic appearance, with striking drips highlighting the black and white color contrast. The glaze also serves as an easy way cover up any of the flaws from a less-than-perfect buttercream job (especially the top). Do your best to create a smooth layer of butter cream on the sides so the drips flow naturally, but it certainly does not need to be perfect.
Use a plastic squeeze bottle to control the direction and size of the drips. Once you’ve made it all the way around the cake, then dump the rest of the glaze on top and spread it out to the edges. Tap the cake plate on the counter once or twice to even out the liquid glaze.
Optionally, top it with an artful pile of fresh blackberries, dusted with gold luster and flakes of gold leaf for an elegant and dramatic finish.
Make Ahead Schedule
When making multi-component layer cakes like this, I like to spread the work out over multiple days to make it more manageable.
The cake layers can be baked and then frozen for up to 1 month. I actually freeze my cake layers even if I’ll be assembling the next day, as I find frozen cakes much easier to work with. To freeze, simply wrap your cooled cake layers in plastic wrap, place them in a zip-top bag (I put a cardboard cake round under each layer to keep them perfectly flat), and then freeze. You can assemble the cake layers straight from the freezer, though I recommend waiting at least 30 minutes or so before serving.
The buttercream can be made and the cake assembled and crumb coated the day before. Then day of add the final layer of frosting and the chocolate glaze. The glaze really only needs 15 minutes or so to set before you can serve it (though it’s fine if chilled for longer too).
If you make buttercream ahead of time, it’s tends to be very stiff and no longer fluffy after refrigerating. To restore the fluff to chilled buttercream, place 3/4 into the bowl of a stand mixer. Microwave the remaining 1/4 for 15 to 20 seconds on 50% power, until softened but not completely liquid. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the softened buttercream, then increase the mixer to high and beat until light and fluffy.
Swaps & Substitutions
Red Wine: I recommend a fruity red wine (look for one with notes of blackberry) or an actual blackberry wine. All the alcohol bakes off in the oven so the cake itself is certainly family friendly. That said, you can replace the wine with hot water or coffee or more buttermilk instead.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk is more acidic than regular milk, giving this cake a richer and more balanced flavor. Powdered buttermilk is the best substitute (mix 1/4 cup powder with 1 cup water or milk). The next best substitute is milk mixed with sour cream. I do not recommend adding vinegar/lemon juice to milk, it’s really not a great substitute, despite what the internet says.
Cocoa Powder: This recipe calls for Dutch processed cocoa powder, which is alkalized to have a darker color and richer flavor, as well as lower acidity. Cacao Barry extra brute is my brand of choice, a great value for the price. Hershey’s Special Dark is the usually best grocery store option available (it’s technically a blend of natural and black cocoas). Ghirardelli has a Dutch process cocoa you can sometimes find in the store too. Using natural cocoa powder in this recipe will result in a much lighter colored cake and a tangier, more bitter flavor.
Blackberry Jam: You really need that punch of bright, acidic fruit to contrast the sweet frosting. That said, you can use any fruit preserve you’d like in place of the blackberry, as long as it’s not too runny. Raspberry would be particularly good here, I think.
Blackberry Red Wine Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups / 400 g sugar
- 1 ¾ cups / 218 g all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup / 70 g dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup / 240 g buttermilk
- 1 cup / 240 g blackberry wine or red wine
- ½ cup / 112 g light olive or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups / 452 g (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 ¾ cups / 452 g (1 pound) powdered sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup heavy cream, at room temperature (plus more as needed)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, or the scraped seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- Pinch fine sea salt
- ⅓ cup blackberry preserves
For chocolate glaze:
- 3.5 ounces / 100 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2-3 tablespoons warm water
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and line three 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper; lightly butter parchment.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, wine, oil, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Divide evenly among prepared pans.
- Bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely. At this point, the cakes can be frozen until ready to use, up to 1 month. Simply wrap each layer individually in a double layer of plastic wrap and then store inside a large zip top bag (I find frozen cakes to be much easier to work with later, and always freeze mine even if I’m finishing the cake the next day).
- To prepare frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 8 minutes. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cream and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes more. Add more cream or powdered sugar as needed to acheive desired consistency.
- To assemble, if necessary, level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread approximately 1/2 cup of buttercream evenly on top. Rather than trying to spread jam on top of the frosting, I found it was easiest to spread the jam on the underside of the next layer, then carefully flip and gently lay it on top of the first layer. Repeat with the second layer and more buttercream and preserves, and top with final cake layer, flat side up.
- Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This “crumb coat” will make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set. At this point if you will be coloring the remaining buttercream, add your food coloring to the mixing bowl and beat until color is uniform.
- Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream, reserving some for piping decorative details if desired. You may opt to return cake to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, particularly in warm months, as it will make it easier to glaze and slice.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the glaze, place chopped chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until the glaze is nice good pouring consistency. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes or until lukewarm (otherwise it will drip too fast). Transfer to a squeeze bottle if desired to make for more easily controlled drips.
- Pour or pipe glaze slowly on top of chilled cake, spreading to edges with an offset spatula, allowing the chocolate to drip over the edges. Continue pouring until desired drizzle effect is achieved (you may not use the entire amount). Decorate with fresh blackberries, dusted with gold luster powder or flakes of gold leaf if desired.
- Serve right away, or refrigerate until ready to serve (let cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving). Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container (or press a piece of parchment/plastic to the cut sides to keep them sealed); it should stay moist for up to 1 week.
Did you make this recipe?Let us know what you think! Leave a Review below or share a photo and tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #loveandoliveoil.
This recipe was first published on January 30, 2012, and has been updated and rephotographed as of January 30, 2023 (11 years to the day, would you look at that!)
Because I can’t resist a little walk down memory lane… here are the photos from the original recipe published back in 2012. What was this shot in a barn or something?
While the recipe itself is basically unchanged (I’ve clarified a few steps and added metric measurements), the photos are a vast improvement, don’t you think? My glazing technique has also vastly improved, with the help of a squeeze bottle the drips aren’t quite so… sanguine.
We originally used a bottle of blackberry wine made locally here in Tennessee. It’s not exactly the kind of wine you pour and have a glass or two with dinner, so baking it into a cake was our way of not letting it go to waste. You can use blackberry wine if you can find it, otherwise any fruity red wine will work!
Hey, I love chocolate cakes but I had never try one with blackberries, let’s give It a try and see how It taste. Thanks a lot for sharing this great recipe with us!
Question- can I make this without the egg yolks or just a little of yolk. I cannot stand the smell of egg yolks so usually end up using little to none.
I don’t recommend leaving the yolks out of this recipe, it really needs the yolks for moisture and structure. The flavors are plenty strong enough (unlike in, say, a yellow cake recipe) it doesn’t taste eggy at all, I promise!
I am excited to try this recipe! If I wanted to make 24 cupcakes, (coring the middle and using blackberry preserves inside) should I cut the recipe in half? Also, how long would you advise baking the cupcakes? Many thanks!
The recipe written as is should make 24 cupcakes I believe (it’s a very similar recipe to my chocolate cupcake recipe: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2019/10/ultimate-chocolate-cupcakes-with-chocolate-frosting.html which makes 12). That’s a good reference as far as bake time as well!
This looks amazing! Is it possible to make it gluten free?
Sorry, I do not have experience adapting recipes like this and cannot say whether it’d work or not. I’d recommend finding a gluten free chocolate cake to start with, it’d be easier to swap the liquid with wine rather than trying to adapt this one.
I baked this caked today. Batter was extremley thin for cake batter, is this normal for this cake? I have it in the freezer and going to frost tomorrow.
Yep, chocolate cake batters tend to be on the thin side compared to yellow cakes.
I am wondering if u used a dry red wine instead of a sweet wine would the flavour of the cake be altered as there is less sweetness? Would the sugar need to be adjusted ?
Technically any red wine will work, I wouldn’t adjust the sugar at all. I try to look for a wine that mentions blackberry/red fruit in the tasting notes.
Yum! Mine sunk in the oven and my icing skills are not to par with yours, but it was delicious nonetheless. Next time, way less sugar in the buttercream frosting.
I just stumbled on your recipe and it looks incredible! Thank you for posting! Any suggestions to replace the buttermilk with something dairy free?
Any dairy free milk should work fine here!
Suggestions for cupcakes?
This recipe works great in cupcake form!
https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2019/10/ultimate-chocolate-cupcakes-with-chocolate-frosting.html (this is a very similar recipe, just swap the buttermilk for red wine).
Yum!! Thanks so much for this recipe. Certainly a keeper recipe. I halved the recipe for 2 six inch layers. Doing that twice, I made a 4 layer cake. Great balance of wine. I added a wine soak to each cake layer for a little extra.
Also the perfect moisture in a cake :)
What was the brand and name of the wine you used?
You know, I’m not really sure! I think it may have been from a local winery (Belle Meade?) but I’m not 100% sure on that.
Made this tonight, but used whipped cream and a BlackBerry sauce in a syrah reduction. O.m.g. so good. So moist. So light. I’m in love. We had BlackBerry syrah cupcakes with a chocolate ganache at our wedding, and I’ve always wanted to make them.
Made this cake for a wedding celebration for a coworker. I made 1 1/2 recipes and did a 3-layer cake. It was exquisite and got so many compliments. I will definitely make it again!
It was amazing!! Not too difficult…I would make it again!! Happy Birthday to my daughter!!!
Hi there! This looks delicious. I was wondering if this cake can be made in a bundt pan? I was thinking of skipping the buttercream and going straight to the ganache.
Yes! In fact the base cake recipe is almost identical to my Whiskey Chocolate Bundt cake (just replacing one booze for another):
I’m so excited to try this recipe! I was wondering how you think it would turn out as cupcakes. I know that I would have to change the baking time, but I just want to make sure that there won’t be any reason why they would turn out badly.
I don’t see why not! Let me know how they turn out! :)
So if you make it in a hundred pan, do you make layers or do you just make one cake.
I meant bundt pan.
a bundt pan would just be a single cake, no layers. See here for a very similar recipe: http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2014/01/chocolate-whiskey-bundt-cake-with-whiskey-caramel-sauce.html
I just made this in 2 9-inch cake pans, and it worked! I baked them for about 28 minutes, and they turned out some nice, hefty layers!
Part two! Lindsay, why is my cake sinking in the middle? All three layers did it. I halved it and baked it in a smaller pan, but that’s the only change I made. I mean, I used a different wine, but I can’t imagine that was it.
It may have been undercooked? Here are some other possible reasons: http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com/2010/11/kitchen-tip-5-ways-to-keep-your-cakes.html
Lindsay, I have much more time today than I will tomorrow, and I need this for tomorrow. I don’t suppose this is the kind of cake that improves over time? If not, I’ll carve out the time tomorrow. :)
It can most definitely be made a day ahead of time! Longer than that and it might start to dry out (in which case I’d encourage you to freeze the layers and assemble it later), but one day will be totally fine. If you have an airtight cake container, that would help, otherwise just cover it as best you can and chill it.
Do you think this recipe would work with blackberry schnapps (Black Haus) in place of the blackberry wine? Thanks :)
No, I would not substitute schnapps in this. It has nearly twice as much alcohol and would likely behave quite differently than the wine, not to mention be far too strong a flavor with a whole cup in the batter. Instead I might suggest trying this recipe: http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2014/01/chocolate-whiskey-bundt-cake-with-whiskey-caramel-sauce.html which uses bourbon in the cake, in much less quantities. I think the schnapps would probably be more similar and better substituted there.
Thank you for your reply! I’m not much of a cocktail maker, so I’m trying to find some recipes to make with some of these random liquors I have in my cabinet. I will check out that other recipe for sure :)
I made this last night.. so good! wish I found your blog sooner, but better late than never :)
You are among those that have amazing sense and incorporating booze into your cakes and desserts is brilliant! Do it all the time! Will be making this beauty for my birthday next week! Thanks!
The boyfriend and I always bake cakes for each other’s birthdays, and we both love looking for and trying new recipes and tastes. I made this a few years ago for him, and used some of my home made blackberry wine, and it was absolutely fantastic. My wine was definitely not sweet, and actually quite dry, so it gave a delightful tang to the cake and didn’t make things overly sweet in the end. His birthday is coming up and when I asked what kind of cake he wanted, he said he wants this one again! :-) Unfortunately I’m down to only one more bottle of that homemade blackeberry wine, so I think this year it might be a blueberry wine chocolate cake. Thank you so much for this recipe! It’s in my book forever now!
That makes me so happy to hear, thanks for letting me know how much you enjoy this cake! And I have to admit, a blueberry wine version sounds AMAZING!
Happy new year!
I made your cake tonight. OMG. I made a couple of changes, I had a friend give me homemade raspberry wine and I used raspberry preserve but that was it. Mine was not as pretty as yours but the taste was unbelievably amazing. It just melted in my mouth. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.
I LOVE this cake. I’ve made it a bunch of times, usually with red wine, sometimes also adding a few spoonfuls of blackberry preserves. It’s a perfect cake – light, moist, chocolatey, not super expensive to make. I make it in a bundt pan and up the baking time a bit, and it turns out spectacular.
Tonight I’m trying it with strawberry wine, so we shall see how that goes!
Which red wine is the best for this recipe?
What type of chocolate is In the glacê? Is it sweetened?
I used a dark chocolate, around 70%, so yes, sweetened.
I hate to sound like a party pooper but I don’t drink alchole because of my religion. I am crazy for sweets though and your cake looks so yummy! I don’t care for coffee in a cake either. What can I replace the coffee or alcohol with? I do not judge anyone for using alchole. I’ve had my share of more than alchole in a cake + some. Thanks!
Hot water works just fine here!
Made this cake for hubby’s birthday. He judges my love for him by the quality of the home-made cake I make for him each year. This cake was up to snuff. To say it was delicious is an understatement. We polished it off entirely within 24 hours. My only advice is take your time and don’t rush the prep. Decorated the top with butter cream frosting rosettes and added fresh blackberries. Yum!
Hi Lindsay & Taylor,
OH! MY! GOD! The first thing that came out of my mouth. Its a gorgeous cake. I would like a slice of cake please! (smile). I am starting my Cake business this year 2014. Long overdue. I am ready. Thanks for the receipe, I will try my gifted hands at this.
I tried so hard. But.. this: pic.twitter.com/mYeso9hdwS
Just found this.
The wine: can a sort of manishewitz! wine be used? ie dessert wine?
If the cake is made as one with no layers, what size baking tin and heat, in centigrade? , and time.
I used to make a chocolate peppermint cake that the women where my ex husband worked would ask him to ask me to make it again!
Yes, any wine that compliments the flavor of chocolate should work just fine. Also, I have successfully made this in a bundt pan – just increase cooking time as needed. I have not tried any other pan sizes.
Oh wow is all I can say when I first saw this cake! I must admit, I was a little apprehensive at attempting to make it but I persevered and must say the cake was absolutely amazing. Hubby and the kids enjoyed it and I will definitely be making this one again. A truly fine and wonderful recipe! Thank you so much for sharing (I have popped it up on my new website for ONLY THE BEST chocolate recipes that I’ve tried and have supplied a link back to your page for you!) xoxo
Does this recipe make enough for 1 8 inch round or 3 8 inch rounds? I want to make a 2 layer cake and I don’t know if I have to double the recipe or take out 1/3. Thanks-
It makes 3 8-inch layers. You could do also 2 9-inch layers if you wanted and I think it’d work just fine. Or freeze the 3rd layer for a snack later – easier than trying to do complicated math. :)
Your cake is stunning! I’m always experimenting with new desserts and am determined to try this soon.
Do you think the consistency would work in a bundt pan? Just increase the baking time?
Thanks you so much!
**Thank you so much!
We Knoxville-ians can’t type very well ;)
I’ve never tried it in a bundt pan but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work? Check the baking time periodically with a toothpick and judge doneness that way. If you try it, definitely let me know how it turns out!
I did increase the flour to 2cups and baked it for about an hour, but it turned out excellent!! I took it took a work luncheon and it was devoured in no time. Bundt cakes are just easier to transport and serve for that sort of event. Next time I’m trying the layers! So so so delicious.
Your Blackberry Red Wine Chocolate Cake looks beautiful, and sounds delicious. I want to make this for my wonderful husband on his birthday later this month, and think freezing the cake is ideal to split up the work effort. Two questions:
1. OK to substitute with raspberry preserve?
2. What’s the ideal timing/manner to defrost frozen cake (just let thaw in fridge the night before preparing?)
1. Yes, I think it’d be wonderful with just about any preserves!
2. I freeze my layers until just before I assemble. Frozen cake is much easier to work with as far as leveling. Then frost and refrigerate it until it’s time to serve. :) as long as you’re not frosting it immediately before serving (doubtful if you’re entertaining, haha) it’ll be completely thawed and perfect when you serve it.
About the “you may not use the entire amount” of chocolate glaze … you are so funny!
There are no words to describe how Awesome this tastes! I used bramble berry wine from Hazlitt vineyards in Watkins glen, NY. You can taste the raspberries in the dark chocolate and its so moist! The frosting is perfect- just sweet enough and fluffy! Thank you thank you for this recipe!
Just wanted to send my compliments to the chef and thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe! I have made it twice this month for two different friends’ birthdays and it has been outstanding each time. Definitely will keep making in the future for all my friends that love chocolate. Thank you so much!
I have been sober for 10 years so naturally, I don’t want wine in my home. I know that the alcohol will cook off and I am not afraid to eat anything that has alcohol in it but I don’t want the remainder of the bottle sitting in my cupboard, calling my name lol. You mentioned that the original recipe had black coffee in it. Did I read that right?? If I was to use coffee instead of the delicious sounding wine, would it be the same amount as you listed for the wine?? This looks absolutely, mouth watering, delicious and I’d like to make it. Thanks in advance. Barb Sweet
The wine can be substituted 1:1 with coffee or even hot water.
I found this cake last year, and baked it for my Mother. We usually do bakery cakes for birthdays, and no one was open for a Monday birthday, thus I really needed a CAKE, not just a cake. She loved it and has requested it on multiple occasions since. It even works if you forget the baking powder (or was it the soda? I don’t remember anymore.) Just a little flatter. We do raspberries, because my Mother adores raspberries. However I may look for a rich Merlot to experiment with in the future.
Thanks, from the bottom of my stomach!
This looks delicious! I’m not good at baking desserts, but this seems worth the “risk”….eating my mistake could be good, esp with a friend. I have a bottle of “choco-wine” — raspberry & dutch chocolate. It’s horrible to drink, but using it in a cake like this may redeem it.
I love that you use buttermilk in this.
Oh my… this wounderful combo of dark chocolate and innocent white looks amazing!!!
I was wondering how many people would the cake serve?? I’m having a brunch for 30 people and I’m trying to see if i may need to make two cakes. :)
I think an 8-inch cake is probably 14-16 servings, so yes, I’d probably recommend two in your case.