Red wine chocolate cake with whipped cream and mascarpone topping and red wine–poached pears (recipe here)
When I first heard The National maybe about three years ago, I disliked by frontman Matt Berninger’s voice and wrote them off immediately (and quite unfairly). When I returned to their music last year, around the release of their album High Violet, I finally got hooked and wondered why I was so put off by them in the first place; although since then I’ve certainly acquired a taste for a wider range of voices. Anyway, I spent a lot of time with 2005’s Alligator, which has become my favorite album of theirs. I knew I had to make something based on the song “All the Wine,” partially because, like The National, it took me a few tries to call myself a wine fan, too. (Now, while I still hardly know anything about wine, I do love it and drink it quite often.)
When I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for red wine chocolate cake, I knew it was a perfect match for this band, but I had to take it a step further by not only topping it with Deb’s suggested mascarpone whipped cream, but also with pears cooked in more red wine. The cake itself is dense and rich and one bite goes a long way (the wine flavor does not disappear after baking), while the toppings give it a more complex mix of flavors. It’s similar to how The National’s music can be lyrically dark and sonically layered, but it’s contained and sort of coiled up, rather than exploding in every direction. Not to mention this is decadent and self-indulgent, just like “All the Wine”‘s chorus of “And all the wine is all for me.” Don’t feel bad, though, just indulge in this one. I made it for my dear friend Jena’s birthday because she totally deserves all the wine. It was served at our housewarming party last month, and there were only about two pieces left over.
This is more of a pairing of other people’s recipes and the music, so I’m going to skip listing the directions and just point you to where the components came from and my very, very slight modifications. I made Smitten Kitchen’s red wine chocolate cake and mascarpone whipped cream topping — my only changes were that I doubled the recipe (so there were two 9-inch round cakes and twice as much topping) and I used demerara sugar instead of dark brown sugar. For the pears, I used Bosc pears for this from About.com. I didn’t use the leftover sauce, mostly because I forgot, but kept pretty true to everything else.
The birthday girl and her cake!