Office Party treats

When I’m trying to think of what to bring to the office (since I work at James River Cellars Winery), I always try and incorporate wine into the recipe.   I’m sure you’ve noticed that I tend to replace water with wine in almost anything… dinner, desserts,  rolls (ok, those are a bit tougher),  appetizers… you’ve seen what I do when I start to experiment in the kitchen.

Today, I wanted to make bite-sized treats for my company Christmas party tomorrow night.  I’ve got an appointment before the party, so this had to be something I could make a day ahead and still have it be yummy.  Thankfully, I already had a fabulous recipe to use as my base… Mocha Wine Cupcakes!

I RedVelvetBrownieCupcakesstarted with the basic recipe that I posted under the title “Mocha Wine Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting”.  That recipe is my all-time GO TO when it comes to chocolate cake.  It’s a recipe that needs no milk, butter, or eggs… it freezes beautifully… it tastes great after thawing… and it was what our baker used a “million” years ago for our Chocolate Wedding cake.  It totally rocks!

This time, I decided to make a half recipe and add in 2T Nutella to the recipe.  I’m not sure that it made a huge difference, but I liked the creamy velvety feeling of having Nutella in my cupcakes, so I chose to use the Red Velvet name.  You could certainly add an entire container of red food coloring to make this chocolate batter turn a beautiful deep red, but I thought they were pretty without the extra addition.

I snapped a few shots throughout the process this morning (yup… had them baked before 10AM… while I was drinking my hubby-made latte’… it was a good morning!) and then frosted them with most of a container of cookie frosting so they’d be done pretty quickly.  I even added a glimmer of gold sugar-glitter on top to make them sparkle for our holiday party.  Fancy! 

See?  A fun office treat doesn’t have to take a great deal of man-hours… just the desire to create something tasty and pretty!  Try this recipe and see if you don’t get asked for the recipe over and over again…

Oh… and when you get asked for the recipe?  Feel free to point them to this blog!  🙂

Red Velvet Brownie Cupcakes

1 1/2 cup flour

1 c sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons cocoa

6 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup espresso

2/3 cup red wine

2 large Tablespoons Nutella

Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.  Spoon batter into cupcake liners (I used mini muffin liners and was able to make 48 mini cupcakes) and bake at 375 degrees for 14-16 minutes.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting or icing.  I like to make a zig-zag pattern in white icing and then sprinkle with colored sugar.

Recipe: Mocha Wine Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

This is my spin on a recipe that a friend posted recently.  After looking at it closer, I realized that it was a similar version of my favorite chocolate cake recipe (Althouse Chocolate Wedding Cake) that I’ve been using ever since our wedding in 1988.  I adore this recipe.  Since it’s a chocolate cake that uses oil and vinegar instead of milk, butter, and eggs, it’s an easy recipe to have on hand anytime.  I’ve made this in a 9×13, 9″ rounds, 8″ rounds, as well as cupcakes… it freezes beautifully and thaws just as well.  Simply put, this is the one chocolate cake recipe to keep on hand for any occasion.  NOTE: This recipe is a “half recipe”… if you want to make a 9×13 or two rounds, you’ll need to double this recipe.

Mocha Wine Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

3 T cocoa

6 t oil

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 t vanilla

1/2 cup coffee (I used espresso)

1/2 cup red wine (I used a Meritage, dry red)

Mix together and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Nutella Frosting:

6 T Nutella

4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 t vanilla

Mix together, using an electric mixer, until thoroughly smooth.

I have each of these ingredients on hand at any given time, so it’s easier than worrying if I have a cake mix in the cupboard.  I might not have all the ingredients for the frosting in my cupboard, but even pre-made frosting tastes pretty darn yummy when paired with this cake.

This is my very favorite chocolate cake recipe and I hope that it becomes one of yours as well.