Homemade Chocolate Cake with Sweet Cherry Sauce

20120118-042016.jpgUsually, I reserve the baking of cakes for special occasions only.  But for some reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to make a chocolate cake today and top it with the cherries I had in the freezer.  There were no recipes in the known google-verse that fit my specifications, as they were mostly some variation of the simple boxed-mix-and-canned-cherry-pie-filling recipe.  That one is definitely tasty, but not what I was looking for today, especially since I don’t keep those things on hand.  Finally, I combined several recipes and tweaked them my own way to come up with the following delightful dessert.  It is sooooo good and would be perfect to make for your valentine.

To make the CHOCOLATE CAKE

This recipe is very close to the “Perfect Chocolate Cake” recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa container, I’ve just tweaked it a bit, more in the directions than in the ingredients.

2 c. sugar ( I ran out so I used 1 1/4 cup sugar plus 3/4 cup brown sugar and the cake is so moist!)

1 3/4 c. all purpose flour

3/4 c. Hershey’s cocoa

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

2 eggs

1 c. buttermilk (sub 1 T white vinegar plus milk to make one cup)

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour two round cake pans.  Combine all of the dry ingredients (I sifted them) in a large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Mix in the boiling water–your batter will be thin.  Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 35 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.  Cool for 10 minutes exactly and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the SWEET CHERRY SAUCE- based on the topping provided for this recipe at Smitten Kitchen:

2 cups frozen sweet cherries (not necessary to thaw)

1/4 cup sugar

1 T cornstarch

2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/8 tsp. almond extract

Pour all in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat until boiling.  Boil for a few minutes, stirring well, then remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

To make CHOCOLATE FROSTING:

1 stick butter, melted

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Melt the butter and mix the cocoa in until completely smooth.  Whisk or beat in the extracts.  (I like this blend for the cherry cake.  You may use a whole tsp. of just the almond extract for a stronger flavor, or a whole tsp. of vanilla extract if you don’t have almond.  It really enhances the flavor of the cherries.)  Alternate mixing in the powdered sugar and milk, adding in a little extra milk (teaspoon at a time) if it’s too thick to spread.

To assemble the CAKE:

Place one layer of cake on serving plate.  Frost a generous layer on the top of the cake only.  Place the second cake layer on top, frosting the top of that layer as well.  Use remaining frosting to cover the sides of the cake.  Use a bamboo skewer to pierce the cake through both layers, about 15 times, no closer than half an inch apart.  This will allow the cherry sauce to run down through the cake by the time you serve it.  Now, slowwwwwly spoon the cherry sauce on top of the cake, concentrating it in the center and allowing it to spread out slowly from there.  Try not to let it run down the edges of the cake.  You may chill the cake for a couple of hours before serving if you like.

The sweet, tart sauce from the cherries is so wonderful with the full chocolate flavor of the cake.  Save a little bit of cherry sauce (just the liquid) if you like, and drizzle a little bit on each serving plate.  A little whipped cream would also be nice, if you have it.

I tried a slice and I wouldn’t change anything (the sauce is fabulous all by itself!), but next time I might try the cake recipe using coconut oil, which I much prefer in terms of nutrition.  You could also choose to frost this cake with a fluffier Chocolate Buttercream, but I find that the firm texture of the frosting I used makes a nice platform for the gooey cherries.  I can’t wait to try the cherry sauce on other things as well.

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