Sunday 10 July 2011

Mulled wine and chocolate cake

Once upon a time in a city far far away I had a wicked manager who was a bully.  She was nasty, moody and made all her staff very miserable.  Fortunately, within a few months I was rescued by a fairy godmother manager who appointed me to a position in her section.  The wicked manager stamped her foot furiously like Rumpelstiltskin, though sadly she did not disappear through the floor.  My fairy godmother manager was very good to me and among her gifts was a recipe for mulled wine from her Viking heritage.

Actually Marianne was Swedish.  The city was Edinburgh: a place that appreciates mulled wine.  It seems like warmed spicy alcoholic beverages are much appreciated in its pubs and of course at the German Christmas Markets.  Great for the festive season if you live in the northern hemisphere.  It is also the perfect drink to keep out the winter cold. 

The beauty of Marianne's recipe is that you don't have to worry about boiling off the alcohol.  You bring sugar, orange, spices and water to the boil, turn off the heat, add the booze and leave overnight.  I have made it this way many times and highly recommend it.

When I made it recently, I made it a more traditional way by cooking it on low for 10-15 minutes.  It was the night that Yaz was visiting so I couldn't leave it overnight.  I was pleased to find it worked well that way too.  It was a fine accompaniment to the Orange, Lavender and Almond Cake that we made.

It doesn't need fancy alcohol.  This is not the time to buy one of those cheap wines with amusing names (such as "Scrapping the bottom of the barrell") that have always made you giggle and feel a tad suspicious in the bottle shop.  E's cheap wine of choice is a $5 bottle of what is known in our house as Chateau Crittenden.

As well as a cheap bottle of plonk, I had a bottle of spiced mead on hand.  In the past I have used port which I used to have around.  These days I don't drink as much and found the mead worked as well as the port to bring an intensity to the spicy warmth of the drink.  Anything will do - brandy, cointrea, muscat - whatever you have in the liquor cabinet.

We are not big drinkers.  In the past we have often not got through a whole batch of this mulled wine.  It will keep in the fridge for a few days.  You can even store it in the empty wine bottle if you can find where your funnel is.  (Where mine went is still a mystery!)  We were gradually making our way through it.  Then I had a brilliant idea.  Not only was there leftover mulled wine but also leftover orange syrup from the cake.

Many moons ago, I promised myself I would make Cindy's Red Wine Chocolate Cake.  A bit of orange and spice are always good additions to a chocolate cake.  So in went the mulled wine and the orange syrup one night between baking bread and watching Downton Abbey.  It didn't quite cook in the middle and it was a bit fluffy for my liking when it came out of the oven.  After a few days it was deliciiously firm and chocolatey.  I was quite sad to see the end of it.

I had a notion to take a photo of the cake with Sylvia's babushka dolls to signfiy the idea of a recipe within a recipe.  Sylvia had a notion to play with them so the above is the best I could do before she grabbed them all and I had to get ready for work.  That sort of signifies how I feel today.  I have plans for posts I would like to write, for ways of organising my house, for recipes to make and yet my energy and time is quite limited.  If only life was as easy as curling up with a cup of mulled wine and a piece of cake.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Rhubarb and apple sponge pudding
This time two years ago: Sour Skon
This time three years ago: Miss Marple’s Tea Room – cosy charm
This time four years ago: Mexicale Pie - an old favourite

Mulled wine
From Marianne

150g sugar
350ml water
3-4 oranges
5-6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
750ml red wine (doesn't have to be good quality)
60-80ml port or other fortified wine (mead worked well)

Stick cloves into oranges.  Place sugar, water, oranges and cinnamon sticks in large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add wine and port.  Either leave for 12-24 hours or Heat on lowest setting on stove for 10-15 minutes - there will be a bit of steam but no boiling.  Serve warm.  We never drink it all in a night so it sits in the fridge for a few days and gets reheated as desired.

Spicy chocolate cake
Adapted from Where's the Beef?

250g butter
250g castor sugar (I used 1/2 cup - about 125g)
4 eggs
250ml red wine (I used one third orange syrup, two thirds mulled wine)
250g self-raising flour
3 dessertspoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
150g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 170 deg C. Grease and line a 22cm spring form tin (springform isn't necessary but that is what I have).  Cream the butter and sugar (I did this by hand). Mix in the eggs and wine. Mull over the colour and whether it takes on the red hue of the wine.  Gently stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon.  Stir in the chocolate.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin.  Bake for about an hour or until cooked.  I am not sure how you check this. I found mine was best after sitting in an airtight container for a day or two.

On the Stereo:
Jazz for Dining: Various Artists


  1. I love the idea of adding the leftover mulled wine to the chocolate cake - what a brilliant idea! I love spices, orange and chocolate together. I want to dash off and make mulled wine just to try this now :)

    Thanks for the overnight tip for making the wine too. Bet its wonderful infused doing it this way.

  2. i wonder if there's a recipe for non-alcohol mulled wine? silly me I know :)

  3. Johanna - perfect timing on this post, as I've been pondering mulled wine this week! And I can imagine it working well in this cake. I've had the recipe since high school and enjoy pulling it out every couple of years for another go. :-)

  4. Despite it being high summer here (that's the theory anyway), I'd love a glass of your mulled wine now. It's cold and grey and depressing here. But your recipe for mulled wine chocolate cake has really cheered me up and I will try and remember that one come December time.

  5. Also glad Edinburgh turned out well for you after initial workplace trauma :-S

  6. Johanna! You've turned my world upside down! I've had mulled wine before and loved it.... does this mean I've been ingesting orange unknowingly?! Wow.

    P.S. Isn't Downton Abbey fabulous? Maggie Smith is awesome.

  7. Mulled wine is perfect for the current weather in Melbourne! And I do very much like the happy ending to your story. Bless the lovely Marianne!

  8. I do enjoy mulled wine and cider in the winter Johanna and derinking it alongside a slice of chocolate cake sounds like a great plan to me. Why not add it to this month's Bookmarked Recipe, just add it to the linky at the end of the post and I will add it to the roundup at the end of the month. It is a nice one to share :)

  9. What an irresistable combination of treats! I loved your fairy godmother story.

  10. This is too funny - I was only thinking the other day that I would like to make my own mulled wine....and here your post is!

  11. This looks wonderful, and I love that you don't have to use really good wine!

  12. Thanks Katie - I love combining chocolate orange and spices too - was quite subtle in the cake but in a good way

    Thanks Anh - not at all a silly question - I have a mulled apple juice recipe on the blog and I think you could try this with grape juice and omit the port

    Thanks Cindy - it is mulled wine weather - and I am glad I have finally tried a chocolate cake with red wine - it is something I have wanted to do for ages

    Thanks Choclette - sorry it is cold weather in summer but at least a glass of mulled wine would make you happier about needing to keep out the cold - and yes the Edinburgh saga wasn't too bad - though a few months were about all I could stand - my colleagues were very supportive which made it easier

    Thanks Hannah - not all mulled wine has orange - some has lemon and I am not sure all even has citrus - I have bought little muslin bags of spices to put in a saucepan of wine rather than do it the way I have and I am not sure they include citrus - but you maybe have unknowingly ingested orange - am sure you will now be vigilant about mulled wine :-) And maggie smith is hilarious in Downton Abbey - she is a gem

    Thanks Leaf - yes mulled wine weather - now that our mulled wine has gone we have been heating small glasses of mead to get us through!

    Thanks Jacqueline - thought of your event and was just pushed for time but will try and link up with it esp as I have had this cake recipe bookmarked for years

    Thanks Cakelaw - yes great combination - just a shame I didn't have extra mulled wine to drink with the chocolate cake - need to manage it better next time

    Thanks Lisa - mulled wine is just the thing for this weather

    thanks Rivki - I am not one for expensive wines but I suspect you would be very nervous heating it for mulled wine - so cheap plonk is a godsend

  13. I really like the idea of using the left-over wine in the cake - it would add more depth to the flavour. Unfortunately, I doubt that there would be any left over wine in our house! ;-)

  14. Thank goodness for fairy godmothers that share lovely recipes! I often wonder about those nasty people at work. Are they as rotten to the core at home?

  15. I love mulled wine. Will have to try the recipe when the weather gets cold. We were in Paris during Christmas and they had small stalls serving Le Vin Chaud all over the tourist spots!

  16. The head of my MD/PhD program is Dutch and he makes mulled wine for Christmas every year! It really is delicious! I'll have to try your recipe!

  17. Alcohol and chocolate together? What a treat! Sorry to hear about your bad boss experience - I often wonder if these people realise just because they are miserable it doesn't mean they need to make their staff so. I'm sure she would've been easier to handle having had a slice of your cake ..

  18. You're totally right - mullet wine isn't to be missed at a German Christmas market! :D It tends to be loaded with sugar, though, so I don't have it too often. I like to make it myself, though, in a sugar and rather low-alcoholic version (1:1 water and red wine), with oranges and lots of spices.

    Okay, I long for Christmas now. This usually starts in August (I love Christmas, and pleasant anticipation is the best kind of joy), but your post just made it start in July already.

  19. Thanks Amanda - you really need to use some for baking the cake and hope there is some to drink with the cake when it comes out of the oven - rather than making the cake with the last of it!

    Thanks Lorraine - in this case I think the answer is yes but that is just based on scuttlebutt

    Thanks Sharan - mulled wine in paris sounds like my idea of heaven - you are so lucky to have that experience

    Thanks Joanne - sounds like a great guy - why can't I work with people who want to make me mulled wine!

    Thanks Keely - I like your theory - if only the bullies of the world ate more chocolate cake maybe our world would be a nicer place :-) But seriously I just think it can't be a happy experience to make others so miserable - so maybe it is a vicious cycle

    Thanks Kath - I love the tradition of Christmas in July here because when it gets cold and cark is really when we want to enjoy festive food - not sure if I will do any proper Christmas in July events this year but feel that the mulled wine and orange cake were properly festive - though a visit to a German Christmas market would be fantastic (have only been to them in Edinburgh which is great but would love to go to Germany to see them)

  20. If you like, you can have a look at the Christmas Market in Heidelberg from last year here:


  21. How interesting that you just put whole oranges in the mulled wine. I would've thought you would chop them up. Using the mulled wine and orange syrup in the chocolate cake was a great idea. It looks it was amazing!


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