Recipe: Sara’s Cocoa and Montepulciano “Drunken Cupcakes”

I would like to pay homage to my Abruzzo region with this recipe: unsweetened cocoa cupcakes with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, our intense ruby-red wine.

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I gave the name “drunk cupcakes” as they hide a bit of wine in their dough, and they are glazed with wine and cocoa icing. In the oven they will give off a strong chocolate flavor combined with the typical red-berry scent of the Montepulciano wine.

The perfect pairing for Montepulciano is with red meat, but I chose to use it for this miniature cakes, topped with sour cherry in syrup, my “cherry on the cake!”

Appetibilis: Sara's Drunken Cupcakes

  • Servings: 20 pieces
  • Difficulty: medium
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60 gr unsweetened cocoa powder
200 gr sugar
200 gr butter
100 ml Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine
150 gr wheat flour
4 eggs
2 spoonfuls of Altino mild pepper powder (*)
1 pinch of salt
1 pack baking powder (16 gr)

Sour cherries in syrup to decorate

(*)you can use some hot chili pepper powder, if you like.

Special cookware

Muffin moulds, and crimped paper cups


Use a food processor to mix sugar, unsweetened cocoa, butter (non viene elencato negli ingredienti) and wine.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook for a few minutes on low heat until boiling point. Set aside about a glass of this glaze (about 170 grams).

Pour the remaining glaze into a blender bowl, add eggs, sift in wheat, pepper and baking powder, with a pinch of salt. Blend until it gets smooth.

Place the paper cups into the muffin mould and fill them 3/4 full max. If a muffin mould is not available, pour the mixture into a 24 cm diameter cake pan or into a ring-shaped mould.

Bake at 180 °C, 20-25 minutes. Check with a toothpick if ready (toothpick should come out clean).


Take the cupcakes out of the oven, remove them form the moulds and with a spoon top each cake with Montepulciano glaze.

Serve it with some sour cherries in syrup whose sweet flavour will perfectly match the Montepulciano.

A shot of ratafià liqueur will be the perfect pairing for these pastry.

Harvesting Montepulciano :: Cultivating Excellence

Cultivating Excellence :: Harvesting Montepulciano | photo: ©Lonza65
Cultivating Excellence :: Harvesting Montepulciano | photo: ©Lonza65

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~Aristotle

Cultivating Excellence :: Harvesting Montepulciano | photo: ©Lonza65
“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”
~Samuel Butler :: Contrada Fosso del Gallo, Silvi (TE) | photo: ©Lonza65

Cultivating Excellence :: Harvesting Montepulciano | photo: ©Lonza65
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
~ Jim Bishop :: Contrada Fosso del Gallo, Silvi (TE) | photo: ©Lonza65

Cultivating Excellence :: Harvesting Montepulciano | photo: ©Lonza65
“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
~William Cullen Bryant :: Contrada Fosso del Gallo, Silvi (TE) | photo: ©Lonza65

Cultivating Excellence :: Harvesting Montepulciano | photo: ©Lonza65
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
~Albert Camus :: Contrada Fosso del Gallo, Silvi (TE) | photo: ©Lonza65

Cultivating Excellence :: Harvesting Montepulciano | photo: ©Lonza65
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~L.M. Montgomery :: Contrada Fosso del Gallo, Silvi (TE)| photo: ©Lonza65

Thanks a lot to SantoneVini for their kind cooperation!

Italian Flavours :: In Vino… Venea

§dd04 143_venea_Collage_©MateldaCodagnone
Venea, a family story of wine and “spirito abruzzese”| photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

The English Idiom “good things come in small packages” translates the Italian “nella botte piccola c’è il vino buono” (small casks carry top-quality wine). If this holds true for “things” in general, it should be truer for wineries.

Venea is a 25-acre winery on the hilly backcountry around Fossacesia (Chieti). The name recalls a former Roman temple dedicated to Venus Conciliatrix (“the peace maker”), on whose ruins the Abbey of San Giovanni in Venere was built in the IX century A.D.

§dd02 184_venea-paolucci-family-portrait ©MateldaCodagnone
Paolucci’s family | photo: ©MateldaCodagnone

This is just one instance of how Paolucci family is strongly and firmly tied to this stretch of land, caught between the sea and the Maiella massif. Nicolino, Serena, Michele and Elena are the kings and queens of this tiny kingdom, a treasure chest where you can find excellent wine and extra-virgin olive oil.

Nicolino Paolucci spent some years in the local cooperative winery and then he realized it was high time to run his own wine business. He and his wife Serena merged the lands both families owned since four generations ahead and started their own “cantina”.

However, with such a rich and important background, one should not think that Venea is tied to bygone days. Their approach to wine-making is updated to the new trend, e.g. it is respectful of the environment through the implementation of the integrated pest management. Even the choice of the name for their rosé wine comes from the title of the one of the most popular Italian rocker’s songs – Vasco Rossi’s Albachiara. But again their roots come up again with a tribute to a local noblewoman, who gives her name to Venea’s Trebbiano and Chardonnay white wine – Spinalba.

Venea’s style mixes old and modern references but keeps its focus on the land. Venea’s estate is included in the upcoming Parco della Costa dei Trabocchi (Trabocchi Coast Park), whose aim is to protect this unique area from unauthorised building development and other land violations. The Trabocchi Coast Park setup could be another asset for the Paolucci, whose love and respect for their land is the leading inspiration for their activity.

Contact: Nicolino Paolucci
Telephone & fax: +39 0872 60303
Azienda Agricola Venea – Via Piano Madonna – 66022 Fossacesia (Chieti)