Barbera Chocolate Cake

Barbera Chocolate Cake by Cakewalker


The California wine harvest is a wonderful time of year. If you have an opportunity to visit any one of the Golden State’s wine growing regions, you’ll find a buzz of activity brought about by ripe grapes, somewhat cooler temperatures, and droves of enthusiasts to revel in the season. Depending upon the variety, from August to October is when the process occurs, with the bulk of the harvesting spanning about 60 days within that timeframe.


Watch this quick video and learn to pipe royal icing grape clusters for a wine themed cake!

Boeger Winery Vineyards

The gorgeous vineyards at Boeger Winery are as picturesque as can be.

Winemakers make critical decisions during this time: how ripe the grapes are based on carefully measured sugar, tannin and acid levels, weather conditions, and the style of wine they’re looking to make all play a role in determining when to pick. It’s an art form really, the vintner’s experience and intuition guiding him or her to make calculated choices for a desired outcome.

One of my favorite wine regions is within a 30-minute drive from my home―El Dorado County. With its American Viticulture Area designation, the wineries nestled here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, produce impeccable, bold, and lovely wines. In particular, is Boeger Winery.

The subject of my next project: @boeger_winery #Barbera. Best Barbera #wine in #California. Dbl #gold, 98 points.

A photo posted by Brooks Walker (@cakewalkr) on

I was preparing dinner one recent evening, and this 2011 Boeger Barbera was plucked from the wine rack. Barbera is a dark-skinned grape variety of Italian heritage. From first whiff of the freshly pulled cork, I knew I’d be in for something really nice. It was decanted for a spell while I picked fresh basil and grated parmesan. After a sip or two, it was clear my initial thought of something ‘really nice’ was more like really spectacular! The buttery clove and cherry notes captivated me, leaving me completely inspired to make something with the Double Gold award-winning varietal.

Cakewalker Barbera Chocolate Cake

October is closing quickly, and the 2014 harvest season is mostly done. But the memory of the 2011 Boeger Barbera lingers with a sweet ending.


Slice of Barbera Chocolate Cake - Cakewalker

Barbera Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: One 8-inch three layer cake

Serving Size: One slice, serves 12-16

Barbera Chocolate Cake

Wine and chocolate lovers will rejoice in the flavor of this sensational cake. Boeger Barbera 2011, the highest rated Barbera California has to offer, is infused in a deep chocolate crumb, and frosted with a rich chocolate buttercream. Dessert and wine―a fabulous way to dine!


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/3 cup Boeger Barbera wine
  • Chocolate frosting:
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk


    Optional decoration: Premade royal icing grape clusters, approximately 1/3 cup green tinted vanilla buttercream frosting for vines and leaves, and appropriate icing decorating tips
    To begin:
  • Grease 3 8x2 cake pans, line bottom with parchment paper rounds, grease paper, then flour lined pans tapping out any excess; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, scrape the bowl down. Add the eggs, one a time blending well after each addition. Alternately add the flour mixture in thirds, and the wine in two parts to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour, scraping the bowl as you go along, mixing each addition until just blended. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans, filling them equally, smoothing the tops level. Bake for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pan on racks for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around the inside edge of the pans, turn the cakes out onto racks, discard parchment paper. Allow cakes to cool completely.
  • Make the frosting:
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about 30 seconds. Add 3 cups of the sugar, the cocoa, vanilla, espresso powder, salt and half the milk to the butter. Start out mixing gently, on low speed, until the sugar and cocoa incorporates with the butter. Scrape the bowl well. Add the remaining sugar and milk, mixing slowly on low, increasing the speed to medium low as the sugar incorporates. Beat on medium low speed until the frosting is smooth, creamy and uniform in color.
  • Fill and frost the cakes:
  • Remove any rounded tops off the cakes by slicing level across the top with a serrated knife or cake leveler. Place a cake centered on a serving plate; ice the top with an even layer of frosting. Place the second cake on top, frost again with an even layer of icing; repeat for the third layer. Frost the sides of the cake with a thin coat to set the crumbs; place in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm the frosting. Apply a final coat of frosting to the sides (touch up top of cake if needed), reserving some frosting to pipe borders. If using, place grape clusters evenly around the outside of the cake near the top―leave space at the top edge for a border. If using, add decorative vine and leaf details with the green buttercream. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip of your choice, and pipe borders at to the top and bottom of the cake. Allow the decorated cake sit so the frosting sets. Slice and serve the cake as desired―the cake is best at room temperature. Store unused cake covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days; bring to room temperature prior to serving.


The frosting recipe makes more than is needed to fill, ice, and apply borders to the cake―there should be some leftover (I like to have enough buttercream on hand to complete the cake). When piping chocolate frosting borders, work quickly to prevent the icing in the bag from softening too much by heat from the hands.


Looking for another fabulous chocolate cake flavor combination? Check out one of my favorites!



  1. Brooks, I can almost taste this chocolate cake! Your piping on the cake is superb and I enjoyed the video on the grape transfers. Thanks for sharing.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Coming from one who’s piping techniques are on point, your compliment is most kind! I’m glad you enjoyed the video, and I’m thankful you stopped by.

  2. No, Brooks, the decoration is NOT “optional” on this! I haven’t seen a cake that “jumped out at me” like this in a very long time — gorgeous! And I love that we can learn how to do it.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Mandatory it is, Jean! Thanks for the lovely comment―I appreciate the tweet too.

  3. I’m only familiar with Italian Barberas so I’m interested in trying this. Both in the cake and in the glass. GREG

  4. Like Greg, I haven’t had a California Barbera — just Italian. And I’ve never had Barbera in a cake! Or any wine other than port, now that I think about it. Great stuff — thanks!

    • Brooks Walker says

      John, if you’ve tasted a wine infused chocolate bar, you’ll have an idea of what the cake will taste like. BTW, a glass of the Barbera along with a slice of the cake pair nicely. Thank you for visiting!

  5. This cake is truly stunning(!) and if it tastes anything like it looks, which I’m sure it does, the diner will be one lucky individual! Thanks for sharing!

  6. That cake is out of this world gorgeous. I want the cake and the wine too!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Many thanks, Maureen. Your neck of the woods has nice varietals, and you bake. Perhaps the cake will be in your future soon?

  7. Spectacular cake, post and video! I love your tip about rounding the points off of the clusters. Really, wonderful, Brooks!

    • Brooks Walker says

      I’m much obliged for the compliments, Betsy. You’ve been serving up some decadent desserts yourself!

  8. Just beautiful. Barbera and chocolate go so well together! I am glad you have some left over for sipping along with your cake. Your tutorial for making the grape clusters is excellent.

  9. I saw this recipe title in your comment on my site and of course, I couldn’t resist…chocolate and wine in a cake…heaven! Since I love both wine and chocolate, I had to see for myself, and I am so glad I did. This looks absolutely wonderful…both delicious and beautiful! You are a true artist with food…what beautiful detail! I love it…thanks for sharing!

  10. Brooks, In all my years of baking I’ve never used wine in a cake. I absolutely can’t wait to give your recipe a try! It looks so good!

    • Brooks Walker says

      I’d love to know how it goes, Sheryl. Thank you, and happy baking!

      p.s. The remainder in the bottle pours a nice glass of wine―perfect to sip while you bake. 😉

  11. What a spectacular cake, Brooks. You’ve outdone yourself once again…the royal icing grapes are the perfect garnish for this wine flavored dessert.

  12. I have always wanted to bake a cake with wine in the batter!!! I bet it enhances the cake so well!!! this one is gorgeous, Brooks!! Bravo!

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