Spread the love with Red Wine Cupcakes – moist chocolate cake with a subtle hint of your favorite red wine throughout, topped with a tangy, luxurious cream cheese frosting. They’re decadent, delicious, and perfect for Valentine’s Day or a fun night in!
HOLD. THE. PHONE.
It’s true: your world just got a whole lot better because Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes are here just in time for Valentine’s Day, and the rest of the year… it’s time, friends, let’s indulge.
If you like red wine (hello), moist cupcakes, chocolate, and luxurious cream cheese frosting, these have your number and they’re waiting for you.
There is mascarpone in the batter to add a bit of tang and moisture, and cream cheese in the frosting. What could be a better combination? It’s like cheese, chocolate, and wine all rolled into one bite-sized cake. Divine!
Don’t worry, I won’t say you have to share (awkward, because, #pandem…) but if you do decide to share, these beauties are perfect for a girl’s night in (or out) once the occasion is able to safely happen again.
They’re excellent desserts for bridal showers or bachelorette parties or The Bachelor watch parties.
Or when you need a little extra chocolate and dessert with your Friday night glass of wine. So let’s get to baking, shall we?
Gather the Ingredients
I love that homemade red wine cupcakes require few ingredients, and it really isn’t that much more work than making boxed cupcakes (promise) and yet it’s 100% worth any possible extra effort because YUM. Here’s what you’ll need:
- The common suspects: all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract
- Cocoa powder: I recommend using a high-quality cocoa powder for the best results
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter: make sure to bring it to room temperature before you start baking
- Mascarpone cheese: mascarpone is an Italian soft cheese, somewhat similar to cream cheese. It’s used like sour cream is in some cakes for this recipe, so feel free to substitute sour cream in a pinch.
- Red Wine: the star of the show – the thing that makes these cupcakes extra delectable
What Kind of Red Wine Should I Use?
Above all, I would recommend using a middle-of-the-road red wine that you enjoy drinking. It doesn’t need to be fancy, we’re baking here!
I love dry red wines and have made these cupcakes using Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and similar blends in this recipe. They all add their own slight spin on the flavor of the cupcakes.
The bolder the wine, the more wine flavor will come through in the cupcakes. If I had to choose one varietal, I would say choose a merlot, but again, what you like to drink is going to be the best choice every time.
Like sweeter wines? Cool, just keep in mind that it may make the cupcakes slightly sweeter, too.
How do I Actually Make Red Wine Cupcakes?
Never fear – making red wine cupcakes is just as easy as making any other cupcake recipe, we’re just using red wine for our liquid instead of oil or additional milk, etc.
The most important step throughout all of it is to properly measure your ingredients.
I highly recommend weighing your ingredients. If you don’t have a kitchen scale yet (seriously, snag one up), measure your flour by scooping it with a spoon and leveling it off. Do not pack your flour in whatsoever – like by scooping with your measuring scoop in the entire flour container- or you will have too much.
With that out of the way, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the mascarpone cheese, sugar, and room temperature butter until light and fluffy. Then incorporate the egg and vanilla.
Next, you will alternate adding the dry ingredients and the red wine. Start with the dry ingredients, adding approximately 1/3 of it, which means you will incorporate the dry ingredients three times.
After the first dry addition, add half of the wine. This means that you will do two additions of wine. So you’ll begin, and end, with the dry ingredients.
Once they’re all incorporated, don’t overmix! Stop mixing, and transfer to the muffin tins to bake.
Bake the cupcakes for 16-20 minutes until set and the cake bounces back when lightly touched. You can also insert a toothpick in the center to check for doneness.
Do not overbake the cupcakes or they will turn out dry, and that will be devastating. But if that happens, at least we have…
Cream Cheese Frosting!
If you’ve been around here for a while, then you know I’m a huge lover of cream cheese frosting. Lots, and lots of cream cheese frosting. With plenty of sugar, because I like to go all out on desserts.
This recipe uses a bit less sugar than my other cream cheese frosting recipes, so the cream cheese really shines through.
Make sure the cream cheese and butter have come to room temperature before you try to mix.
I also recommend using full-fat cream cheese, first because this is no place to skimp, and also the frosting won’t come together as it should with anything else. Philadelphia cream cheese just does it best when it comes to frosting, in my opinion.
Add in the powdered sugar and a little liquid: half and half or heavy cream (you could also sub whole milk). A little vanilla for flavor, too.
Once it’s light, fluffy, and creamy, it’s ready to frost!
Pipe on top of cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles or food coloring as desired. Make it as festive for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Because there is cream cheese frosting on these cupcakes, you should technically store in them in the fridge for the second day and beyond.
Make sure they are stored in an airtight container to prevent drying out as much as possible (fridges can do that to cake) and to prevent any other fridge smells from attaching to them.
I recommend letting the cupcakes come to room temperature for best results before serving after storing them in the fridge. Of course, if you love cold cake, be my guest!
Yes, not all of the alcohol from the wine will bake out. It’s estimated approximately 10-20 percent of the alcohol remains, so enjoy responsibly and use your best discretion.
More Boozy Baking Recipes to Love
- Guinness Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Apple Cider Cupcakes with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Bailey’s Cheesecake Brownies
- Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Not baking-related, but if you love red wine check out this Creamy Red Wine Spaghetti recipe!
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ + 1/8 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- ¾ cup + 2 TBSP granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup + 2 TBSP red wine
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ Tablespoon half-and-half or heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line 12 regular-sized muffin tins with a paper liner.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, and salt, being careful to measure properly (weighing the flour and cocoa is highly recommended!).
- In another mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, use an electric mixer to beat together the sugar, butter, and mascarpone until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and the egg, beating until fully incorporated.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wine to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry (3 dry and 2 wet additions). Mix until fully incorporated between each addition.
- Fill each muffin cup 2/3 of the way full (I use approximately 2 scoops of a medium cookie scoop).
- Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until set and cupcake bounces back when lightly touched. You can also use a toothpick inserted, it should come off with a few crumbs. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and set them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Slowly begin to beat together the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, with cream and vanilla, continuing to beat until fully incorporated and smooth. If desired, add food coloring during the mixing process. Pipe or spread the desired amount of frosting on each cupcake. Top with sprinkles (optional) and enjoy!
- Use a middle-of-the-road, bold-bodied wine that you like to drink. See the recipe post for more wine insight.
- I used Wilton’s Natural Food Coloring for the frosting.
- The process shots have double the recipe as written above.
- Per your feedback, this recipe was adjusted when updated to make 12 instead of 24 cupcakes. Easily double the recipe if needed!
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This post was originally published in February 2016; the photos and text were updated in February 2021. Changes to the recipe are noted in recipe card.