Festive Port + Personal Date and Chocolate Chip Cakes

Quinta de la Rosa Port

“This wine rains kisses in your mouth.” –Insatiable By Gael Greene

The first Wednesday of every month is Wine Wednesday! Spectacular wines under $10.00. Yep. Under $10.00. Sometimes wine is less expensive where I am, but most of the time it’s more expensive. Hopefully that means that I will pick wines that are well below the $10.00 limit for most of you.

I will post wines that I particularly like. I am no specialist by any means, but I do love wine. I know the basics of the different varietals, what regions generally produce, how wines are made, but this space is all about preference. We all like what we like, and you might like what I like too. I will post food pairings and why those pairings are suitable for the specific wine.

Quinta de la Rosa Lote N. 601 Ruby Reserve Port

Price: $16.99

Variety: A blend—mostly Tourig Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Roriz

Okay I know that this wine is more expensive than my general picks. But this is different. Bear with me! This is a port wine.

A port is a wine style in which a sweet wine is fortified with alcohol and aged to develop a great nightcap or aperitif. Protected by region, this Portuguese treat is often very expensive due to the length of aging and brandy fortification (up to 20% in some cases). Even though this is more than ten bucks, this particular port pick is rather affordable and a great option if you’re looking to dabble in the style.

The actual production of a great port is a complex math problem as the wine maker needs to predict how the wine and yeast will react over time in order to create the desired final sugar and alcohol percentages.

To me, port always kind of sounded like an old man drink that you sip in front of a fireplace if you’re taking a break from your single malt scotch. But the very first time I tasted a port, I found it more delicate than that picture in my mind. The balance between the “hot” alcohol and sweet taste is complex. Additionally, the ruby style (which I’m featuring here) has a tremendous fruit-forward flavor that completes the mouthful and makes it more vibrant. Port has always reminded me of the holidays because it’s a drink you slow down with. Sip and chat with friends over. Maybe even with that fireplace I mentioned earlier…

If you choose to go with the other popular style, tawny, the port is aged longer and tends to be more brown in color and nutty in flavor profile.

This ruby port has strong fruit notes such as fig and berry with a pleasant finish of alcohol (but not too much!) of 19.5%. I picture it as the perfect after-dinner drink, great on its own as dessert. However, if you’re like me, you may be thinking of a dessert you can sink your teeth into as well, so I’ve got your back. The rich fig and fruit flavors made me think of chocolate with a twist, so I paired it with a cake that reminds you of a soft chocolate chip cookie…except better. Rehydrated dates are swirled throughout the batter which lends a richer, deeper flavor to the cake, complimenting the fig note in the port, while creating an almost gooey texture which will make you so darn happy. Almonds are thrown in which add extra crunch and a nutty sweetness that will slightly change the port taste to be nuttier as well—almost like a tawny port. The cardamom will add spice and bring out flavors like nutmeg and a freshness in the port. And finally, because I know we’re all entertaining like crazy, I’ve made these cakes personal sized! So that each guest can partake in the nightcap sips and nibbles. Feeling festive yet?

This combo is perfect for your Christmas eve as you take in the holiday and get together with friends and family. Preferably with decorations all-around to enhance the cozy feelings I know you’ll be experiencing. If the port is too strong for your liking, I would add some sparkling water and make it more like a spritzer. Traditionally served slightly chilled, this port is also great at room temperature. Enjoy!

Have you ever had a port wine? Let me know if you try this one or the cake recipe below—I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Personal Date, Almond, Cardamom, and Chocolate Chip Cakes

Adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate Cookbook

Makes 12 small cakes*

4 cups water

4 teaspoons baking soda

1 pound dates

¾ unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspound ground cardamom

1 pound chocolate, chopped

½ cup roasted, unsalted almonds, chopped

For topping (optional): whipped cream and extra chopped almonds

  1. Pit the dates and very roughly chop them (I cut each date into about 4 pieces if you’d like an idea of the size).
  2. Combine the water and baking soda in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the dates and remove from the heat. Let soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375⁰F. Prep 12 small ramekins with a baking non-stick spray or butter/flour.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the egg, flour, salt, and cardamom. Mix until just combined.
  5. Drain the dates. Add these to the batter along with the chocolate and almonds.
  6. Divide the batter between the ramekins. Put the ramekins on top of a sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 7-10 minutes or until browned around the outside and just set in the middle. I find that the cakes bake more evenly if you bake 6 at a time.
  7. When finished baking, remove the sheet pan from the oven and remove ramekins to a cooling rack. Let cool until just warm.
  8. Top with whipped cream and chopped almonds. Serve alongside a glass of port for full holiday celebrations!
  9. If prepping in advance, let cakes cool completely. Wrap well and store in fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 300⁰F oven about 5 minutes until warmed through.

*This recipe can easily be halved for 6 cakes. The only consideration is to beat the egg with a fork and add half of it to the batter.

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4 Comments

  1. December 12
    Reply

    I adore port – it reminds me of my nanna who would sneak me a cheeky jigger of ruby port every christmas . I love it because of the sweetness and fruity flavours I think. Havent tried this one but will keep an eye out for it – love the little cakes too Im sure they would go well with a small glass of port for dessert. Great post Kelsey x

    • Kelsey
      December 13
      Reply

      Your nanna sounds like one top-notch lady! Haha Thanks for the comment! xoxo

  2. December 15
    Reply

    Sounds like a wonderful winter combo! Love the sound of these little cakes too. Enjoy your Christmas Kelsey!! Cheers.

    • Kelsey
      December 16
      Reply

      Thanks Kate! Getting all cozy with the port and cake 😉 I hope you enjoy your Christmas as well! xoxo

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