Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Veggie and the Beast

Valentine’s Day! Give me all the chocolate. And all the wine. And maybe the two together?

I technically shouldn’t drink red wine, because I’m fairly certain that it gives me headaches, so the glass of wine you see in the background of these photos is a total lie. It just sat there, alone, and not being consumed by me.

…Except for maybe just a couple sips. Just between picture taking and cupcake eating. Just to set the mood.

Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Veggie and the Beast

The thing is, I LOVE red wine. I want red wine to be my valentine. I blame all the Scandal I’ve been watching lately, and the fact that I kind of want to date be drink with Olivia Pope, and help her eat the popcorn she always makes but never touches.

Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Veggie and the Beast

When Ryan and I started dating, we’d make dinner together several times a week and often kill a bottle of red in the process. Nowadays when we make dinner together, our beverages consist of soda water or white wine (for me) and warm Coors Light (for him). It somehow doesn’t feel quite as romantic.

Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Veggie and the Beast

Fortunately these cupcakes are totally romantic, with their mix of merlot, dark chocolate, and whipped cream cheese buttercream. The wine is subtle, but the taste is definitely there. It adds depth and a bit of fruitiness to the deep, dark chocolate flavor.

Can we call a cupcake sexy? If so these cupcakes are total babes.

Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Veggie and the Beast

The cake is adapted from my go-to cupcake recipe, which you’ll see variations of here, here, and here. It’s ridiculously light and fluffy, and just begs to be boozed up for special occasions.

Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Veggie and the Beast

The chocolate hearts and drizzle aren’t necessary, but I like how they make the cupcakes look a little fancy, like they’re all dressed up for your date night. Of course, our ideal date night consists of being cozy on the couch with Italian food and board games, but at least our cupcakes have some class.

Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

Light and fluffy chocolate cupcakes made with red wine, topped with a whipped cream cheese buttercream, and drizzled with melted dark chocolate.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes

  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 cup Merlot (or other red wine), room temp

Whipped Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temp
  • 4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon half and half or heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and dark brown sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the buttermilk mixture. Once everything is incorporated, gradually beat in the wine. Whisk until all lumps are gone.
  4. Coat cupcake liners with nonstick spray, then fill each liner about 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  5. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the buttercream. Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, incorporating on low and then beating on medium-high speed to fully mix in the sugar. Once you've added all the sugar, pour in the vanilla and cream, and beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  6. For the chocolate drizzle, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat once it is melted.
  7. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, and then drizzle with melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you have a candy mold and want to make the chocolate hearts, just double the recipe for the chocolate drizzle.


15 Responses to “Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes”

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — February 13, 2014 @ 8:54 am (#)

    Mmm merlot and chocolate sound like the perfect combination for a cupcake!!

  2. Natalie @ Once Upon a Cutting Board — February 13, 2014 @ 2:43 pm (#)

    These are gorgeous and so grown up! And perfect for people who want a Valentine’s dessert fitting of the occasion but without all the red and pink (though I like those desserts too)!

    • Katie — February 17, 2014 @ 10:41 am (#)

      haha, I actually was going to make the candy hearts red, but couldn’t handle the artificial smell (and ingredients) of the melting chocolate (it was “red velvet” flavored…apparently). Then, plan B was going to be some pink and red sprinkles on top, but I ended up liking how they looked classy with just the chocolate :)

  3. huntfortheverybest — February 13, 2014 @ 7:03 pm (#)

    they look amazing!

  4. Lauren — February 16, 2014 @ 5:14 pm (#)

    Mmmmm, these look so yummy! Great photos by the way!

    • Katie — February 16, 2014 @ 8:28 pm (#)

      Thanks Lauren!

  5. Colleen — February 20, 2014 @ 1:18 pm (#)

    These cupcakes look perfect for a party I’m going to. I have made a few of your other cupcakes and they were all a blast. Unfortunately the person who is throwing the party is allergic to coconut. So I can’t use the coconut oil. What would you recommend as a substitute?

    • Katie — February 20, 2014 @ 3:45 pm (#)

      Hi Colleen! You can substitute melted butter or canola oil for the coconut oil – let me know how they turn out! :)

      • Colleen — March 30, 2014 @ 12:57 pm (#)

        Sorry I never got back to you about the cupcakes. They turned out Awesome!! because if the number of people that was supposed to turn out for the event I was making them for I decided to do mini cupcakes. I don’t know if you ever attempted making mini cupcake with your recipes but I came close to 100 mini cupcakes.
        I ended up eating them all week because only 10 out of the 50 that RSVPed showed.

  6. Pingback: Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Cupcake Daily Blog | Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipes

  7. Pingback: Dark Chocolate Merlot Cupcakes | Delicious Recipes

  8. maissoutaloumkilsafoufa — February 23, 2014 @ 4:09 am (#)

    they are pretty awesome but without wine for me !!!!!!!!
    i don’t miss an episode of scandal this is my favourite !!!!!

  9. Pingback: Picnics – part two | Tastes Like Adventure

  10. Pingback: 12 Decadent Chocolate Dessert Recipes | Better Living

  11. Maryellen — December 2, 2015 @ 8:11 pm (#)

    I just made these and I have to say they are VERY dry. Not a moist cake at all.