Mark Leslie's Chocolate and Wine Torte

Chocolate and Wine Torte
Chocolate and Wine Torte

Italians think of wine as if it were a food, so it is natural to find it used in a baked dessert. I have eaten this "torta" –cake– in Tuscany, the heart of Italy's wine-making country. Dusted with powdered sugar instead of a frosting, this torta is not too sweet, but it is full of flavor—chocolate, cocoa, cinnamon and, of course, red wine. I prefer to use a Tuscan Chianti wine, but you may use your favorite dry red. For Italians, chocolate and wine are as natural a combination as tomatoes and pasta, so—Buon Appetito!

Chocolate and Wine Torte
Torta Cioccolato e Vino Rosso

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose, unbleached flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted sweet butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs

3/4 cup red wine (I prefer to use a Chianti)

4 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate (between 60% to 72% cacao), finely chopped

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9- or 10-inch nonstick springform pan.

In a medium bowl, shift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or wooden spoon, cream the butter. Add the sugar in thirds, mixing together well between each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture, beating until incorporated between each addition. Add the wine, mixing until incorporated. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, in batches, stirring well between each addition. Stir in the dark chocolate until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After 10 minutes, remove the springform ring and allow the cake to cool completely. Remove the cake from the pan base and place on a serving platter, dusting the top with powdered sugar.

Serves 8 to 12.