My wife likes chocolate, but she loves cherries. Seeing it was her birthday recently, I thought I’d combine the two and make a special chocolate cherry cake. Sounds simple enough — just search the internet for cherry chocolate cake, and something yummy will pop up, right? Wrong. Well, there are a lot of recipes for a chocolate cake that had cherry pie filling in the middle. I wanted there to be bits of cherries in the chocolate cake batter. And cherry flavor in the icing and in the filling, too. So I started to improvise. The results were pretty damn good — not perfect — but that’s where you come in!
I try not to post recipes before I’ve pretty much perfected them, but I’m going to make an exception here, simply because I want feedback from the pastry chefs out there of where I might have gone wrong. This was a recipe I pretty much created on my own — a cake recipe at that. And that’s a pretty damn dangerous proposition, as baking without a tried and true recipe can lead to disaster. Fortunately, I found a recipe on Epicurious that would be my base, but then I seriously deviated from there.
I didn’t have any dried cherries, but I had frozen dark cherries. I decided that I’d thaw them out and add a little kirsch. I then threw the cherry mix into a food processor for just a few pulses. I strained the juices, saving that for the icing, whereas the chopped cherries went into the cake batter.
And I didn’t use icing between the layers — I used a sour cherry jam, as I wanted a sour contrast to the rest of the cake.
My problem came with the icing. I tried to use a buttercream icing, using the cherry juice as a coloring and flavoring agent. I don’t think I had enough confectioner’s sugar for one thing, as the icing sort of separated, as you might be able to see in the photo below.
In the end, the cake was very tasty, and if I can get the icing down, it could be a staple in the house. The cake itself is fairly dense and fudgy, which is what I wanted. I could also see doing this with a much lighter type of cake. There’s all sorts of options available, as cherries and chocolate make a great combination.
Cherry Chocolate Cake
- 1-12 ounce bag frozen dark cherries, thawed
- 1/4 cup kirsch
- 6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sour cherry jam or preserves
Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine cherries and kirsch. Pulse in a food processor until cherries are coarsely chopped. Strain cherries through a fine sieve, saving the liquid for use in the icing (below).
Melt chocolate and butter in a microwave or over a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Whisk in granulated sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add flour and salt, stirring until just combined, and fold in chopped cherries.
Divide batter among cake pans and bake in middle of oven about 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. Turn cakes out onto a rack and cool.
Cherry Icing (warning, needs improvement!)
- 1 pound confectioners sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons reserved cherry juice
In large bowl, beat together sugar, butter, and cherry juice until smooth. If necessary, add more milk until frosting is spreading consistency.
Place one cake on a large plate. Spread cherry jam evenly and then top with other cake. Ice with cherry icing.
This cake is very good chilled, too.