21 + red wine chocolate cake with whipped mascarpone / by Maci Britt

Today is the first day of a new calendar year, and also the first day of my 21st year on this earth. I have never posted about my birthday in the past couple years of blogging, but 21 is kind of a big deal, I suppose, so I figured I should start now. 

21. I know it’s just a number, but I’m hoping this year of my life is really great. A 21 before 22 list is in the works. Most of the items revolve around food so far (croissants, macarons, picnics, etc). I’m pursuing Jesus, and minimalism, and warmer weather. And I’m celebrating with this cake.

Red wine- a nod to my new age. Chocolate- a given. Mascarpone- a treat. 

Yay for birthdays! And yay for a brand new year! (And yay for Meegan, who took these pictures of me until her fingers were too cold to hold the camera and mine were too cold to hold the cake platter. She’s a good friend.)


red wine chocolate cake
recipe from the smitten kitchen cookbook

[ makes one super-big birthday cake (aka three 9-inch layers) ]


for the cake: 

16 tablespoons (225 grams) butter, at room temperature

2 cups (380 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar

⅔ cup (135 grams) granulated sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups (475 ml) red wine (whatever you like)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2¾ cups (345 grams) organic all-purpose flour

1⅓ cups (115 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon table salt

for the whipped mascarpone:

16 ounces mascarpone

2⅓ cups (280 grams) powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line the bottom of 3 9-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper. Coat the pans with nonstick cooking spray (I love Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray for baking!) and set aside.

With an electric mixer in a really large bowl, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes, until it’s fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Pour in the red wine and vanilla extract and mix until combined. At this point the batter will look strange and grainy. Don’t fear.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a sifter and sift the mixture directly over the wet ingredients. With the mixer on low speed, mix until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans (about 2½ cups batter each). Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a layer comes out clean. The baking time will depend on your oven and how well air circulates. Mine took all of 35 minutes.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire cooling racks and let them cool completely.

To make the whipped mascarpone frosting, beat all of the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, set one layer on a cake platter and spread ⅓ of the filling over the top. Repeat with the remaining layers.