Recipe Testing: Chocolate and Wine

If you’ve found your way to this little corner of the internet, you’re probably a chocolate and wine lover like myself. Separately or together, they are a match made in heaven and (quite obviously) two of my favorite things in the world.

Two weekends ago, I attended the 2017 Boston Wine Expo (highlights & favorites coming ASAP, promise!) We always stop by the 90+ Cellars set-up because they have a huge variety of quality wine at varying price points. They even had a blind taste test which Sean and I totally nailed! They didn’t have my favorite L’Amis Barbaresco on the floor this year and once I saw the color of the wine in my glass my super intuitive deduction skills kicked in. Okay, I’m kidding about the deductive skills, but I did get it right. I got to talking with the company’s marketing manager and soon, we were chatting about partnering up on some chocolate and wine recipes. Who could say no to that?

Surprisingly, I’ve never used red wine when making dessert so I settled on a few simple sweets to test the waters: Red Wine Hot Cocoa and Red Wine Brownies. (I also attempted Red Wine Chocolate Truffles. On account of user error, aka me failing miserably, these were not successful. I ran out of time to try a second round so I will be adding them back to the list for near-future recipes.)

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Back to the things that were successful. First up … Red Wine Hot Cocoa!

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I love hot chocolate, especially when it’s super creamy and extra indulgent. I wanted to see how the 90+ Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (from Argentina, not California) would elevate milk chocolate and dark chocolate so I tried both. By far, the Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa was the best. Hands down. Zero question. The fruitiness of the Cab gave the cocoa a raspberry and plum-esque flavor that’s delicious on it’s own or, if you’re feeling fancy, would be fantastic paired with a cheese plate.

I didn’t add extra sugar to either cocoa because I really wanted to the chocolate itself to shine through and be the sweetener here, but I think I would add a bit to the dark chocolate cocoa.  It might have been that I used a high cocoa bar (70% dark) which made it a little too intense as a hot drink so lowering that cocoa content could also help.

Red Wine Hot Cocoa (makes 2 servings)

12 oz milk (I used 1%)
6 oz half and half or light cream
4 ounces high quality chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup red wine (I used this 90+ Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon)

Bring a saucepan to medium heat on the stove. Add milk and half & half (or cream) and bring to a simmer but do not let it boil. Add chopped chocolate and stir until completely melted. Add wine and continuing stirring until the mixture is hot, about 3 minutes. Serve in two large mugs.

Next up … “Blend” Brownies.

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90+ sent their Big Bad Red Blend and it was clear that using a blended wine in the recipe called for something a little unconventional. I decided to use a “blend” of chocolate – about 3/4 bar of each milk and dark chocolate, melted them into butter and then added the rest of the ingredients. The result was a moist, cake-y brownie that had a subtle and luxurious hint of the red wine. The Big Bad Red Blend elevated the two chocolates and made the brownies irresistible. (Seriously, they were gone in 3 days…)

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Red Wine “Blend” Brownies

1 stick (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, melted
About 5 oz. chocolate (I used roughly 3/4 of a Lindt EXCELLENCE 70% Dark Chocolate Bar and roughly 3/4 of a Lindt CLASSIC RECIPE Milk Chocolate Bar)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4-1/3 cup red wine (I used 90+ Cellars Big Red Blend)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter and add chocolate. Stir over medium heat until chocolate is completely melted.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add brown sugar and start the mixer. Gently pour butter/chocolate combination until mixed thoroughly. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Drop the mixing speed to low and add flour and cocoa. Once they just come together, add wine. Start with 1/4 cup and increase up to 1/3 cup if the batter is too thick.

Pour batter into a greased 9×9 square pan and bake until the brownies are set, about 30-35 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (although I doubt they would last that long…)

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Finally, I can’t end this post without mentioning the 90+ Cellars Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the wine used in the chocolate truffles attempt and then found itself in my glass once all of the testing was completed. This Cab falls under 90+ Cellar’s “Reserve” section of their website as it is at a slightly higher price point than the other 2 “Core” wines I tested. In my opinion, is worth every extra cent. It’s full-bodied with a smooth finish, complimented by notes of mocha and tobacco giving it a slightly smoky edge. This wine would be perfect to serve at a dinner party or make a beautiful gift for a Cab lover in your life. I would know; I want someone to gift this to me!

Are there any chocolate and wine desserts you’d like to try? Leave a comment and they may get added to Round 2 of recipe testing.

This post is was created in partnership with 90+ Cellars, but all opinions and images are my own. Thank you for supporting brands who support Chocolate & Wine!

Life Lately (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Things have been pretty crazy over here since I last posted way waaaay too long ago. One of my goals for 2015 is to blog more so hopefully I will have lots to say this year!

And because I’ve been away for a while, I did want to give a quick (and very special) update to precede the amazing giveaway at the end of this post. (Don’t miss it!!)

In a blog post from January 2013 (wow, that seems like so long ago), I mentioned that I had met a guy and fallen for him hard during my summer in London. Fast forward 2(+) years from that summer, he stuck around. He made me happy. We even got a cat.

Then, this past October, he did something that made me cry harder than I ever had before. He got down on one knee in the place he took me on our first date (Ogunquit, Maine) and asked me to marry him.

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It was a surreal experience. In the minutes, hours, weeks to follow there were hundreds of phone calls, texts, emails, social notifications, glasses of champagne, congratulations and a whirlwind of thoughts: “OMG I’M ENGAGED. WHAT NOW? WHAT NOW?”

I calmed down eventually.

We picked a date, a venue, a photographer, and I’m happy to say I have lots of time to plan, stress, probably cry once or twice or many times, and enjoy all of the champagne my heart desires. And being engaged to Sean also means I get an official drinking partner for the rest of my life. So awesome.

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And speaking of a drinking partner, Sean and I will be attending the Boston Wine Expo for the second year in a row next weekend! The perfect Valentine’s Day excursion.

It’s no surprise that Sean and I love wine. Our love of red wine in particular was an early common thread between the two of us – Sean even brought a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignion for us to enjoy on our first date (Fetzer) and it is still a tried and true favorite of ours.

Last year at the Expo, we sampled glass after glass of wine from all over the world and learned about each wine and vineyard individually. The Expo is a giant trade floor set up by country with each respective flag hanging over a portion of the floor. The wine booths are also flanked by different food vendors handing out samples so you can snack your way through the wine tastings.

Memories from the BWE14!
Memories from the BWE14!

SORRY, THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.

Want to go to the 2015 Boston Wine Expo? You’re in luck! I have one pair of tickets that I’m giving away for next Sunday’s Grand Tasting event! (Sunday, February 15th from 1pm-5pm at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.)

I promise this is an event you will NOT want to miss!

To enter:

Simply leave a comment and tell me what you’d look forward to the most if you got to attend the Expo. (Need inspiration? Check out their website and their Facebook page!) Make sure you include your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win!

Want 2 extra entries? Follow @ChocoAndWine on Twitter and @BostonWineExpo on Twitter, tell me you did in the comments, and I’ll give you an extra entry for each follow!

Good luck! I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, February 11th.

Congratulations Nell! (Comment #18!)

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*The Boston Wine Expo sends Chocolate & Wine to the event, and provides the giveaway tickets, but all opinions are, as always, my own.

Boston Wine Expo 2014 (and a Giveaway!)

I love wine.

I’m sure that goes without saying considering the title of this blog. And I’m really excited that this year I get the chance to go to the Boston Wine Expo at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center in February! The opportunity to try over 300 wines in the span of 4 hours, plus tasty bites and live cooking demos? Sign me up!

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There are also educational seminars that you can attend to learn more about whatever topic tickles your tastebuds. I’m already eyeing the “Cheese and Wine Matching Seminar” where you get to try wines expertly paired with different cheeses. There’s also location-based seminars for those who are interested in learning about wines specific to places like Napa Valley or Portugal. I think deciding on which seminars to go to would be one of the hardest decisions of the day!

And guess what? The Boston Wine Expo wants you there too! I have two tickets to give to a lucky reader for the Expo’s Grand Tasting on Sunday, February 16th! Your tickets will include access to the main event, a souvenir glass with which you can try any of the 300(+) wines that will be available for sampling, complimentary food samples from a variety of culinary producers, and live cooking demonstrations.  I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited.

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me what your favorite wine is and why you’d like to to the Boston Wine Expo! (Don’t forget to leave your name and email address so I can contact you if you win!)

For an extra entry, follow me on Twitter @ChocoAndWine and leave me a comment telling me you did!

The entry period will run from today, January 15th through Thursday, January 30th. I will pick a winner at random and announce it here!

Congratulations to Lauren Boucher for winning 2 tickets to the Sunday Grand Tasting at the Boston Wine Expo!

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And for those of you who want to buy tickets now (before they sell out!), use discount code SOCIAL at checkout for 10% off tickets for either Saturday or Sunday’s Grand Tasting! (You can buy tickets here: http://j.mp/BWETix)

"Life's too short to drink bad wine."
“Life’s too short to drink bad wine.”

*As a blog ambassador, the Boston Wine Expo is providing me with complimentary tickets to the event, as well as a pair of tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are my own.