Chocolate Cherry Cake aka Hot Mess

This is shaping up to be a tasty year of cake experiments. After Steve’s ambitious spring birthday cake attempt (and a great teaching moment for Jason), we decided we needed to bake more cakes. We both love a good dessert and Steve has wanted to learn to bake and decorate cakes for ages.

We bought a big jar of cherries at Trader Joe’s several months ago and they’ve been sitting in our pantry just begging to be opened. So, this summer, with our sights set squarely on the next cake experiment, we popped the lid on that jar of cherries and went to work on a chocolate cherry cake.

The idea was to bake a small 6″ round which we topped with a large muffin-sized cake followed by a small cupcake. The proportions worked nicely. The finished cake was just the right size for a small dinner party or for a duo like us who could put the whole thing away in just a few days of snacking.

To develop the cherry flavor, we used a bit of the jarred cherry brine in the batter. Chopped cherries added more cherry flavor and texture to the cupcakes. Finally, we filled the layers of the 6″ cake round with chopped cherries and whipped chocolate ganache. And because that wasn’t going to be enough chocolate, we finished the cake with more (non-whipped) chocolate ganache. This final embellishment, as it turned out, was a bit of a “mess” as the piped finishing ganache turned into a work of modern art. In truth, it looked a little like someone had some fun with chocolate silly string! [Someone needs to create edible chocolate silly string!!]

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Chocolate Cherry Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Unsalted butter, softened, for pans
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk or kefir
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm cherry syrup
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped morello cherries

Chocolate Cherry Ganache Frosting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep) or one 6-inch round cake and about 9 muffin tins and/or a few mini muffin tins; dust with cocoa. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter between pans. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, faceup, to wire racks. Let cool completely.

Chocolate Cherry Ganache Frosting

4 ounces dark chocolate
1 ounce cherry liquid
3 ounces heavy cream

Chop the chocolate and place in a medium sized heat proof bowl. Heat the liquids to just before boiling point, then pour the liquids over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes before whisking. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool.

For glaze: place some in a plastic Baggie and pipe the chocolate, in a drizzly fashion.

For chocolate frosting: allow the ganache to cool for 30-40 minutes. Using a mixer, whisk until light and fluffy 1-2 minutes.

Add chopped cherries to some of the frosting for the inner layers. Use the remaining frosting to frost the cake.

2 thoughts on “Chocolate Cherry Cake aka Hot Mess

  1. When are you inviting us over for dinner? This sounds great, as does the peach crisp with garam masala! I hardly ever bake dessert.

    PS. When I reply to your posts, does this go to you only, not your followers?

    Michele (Zannah’s friend)

    > >


    • Thanks, Michelle! (We know who you are!!) 😉 We would love to see you both! When you post a comment, we receive notification, but our followers do not. Your comments are visible to the public. Now, let’s look at our calendars and come up with a dinner date. We’ll reach out on FB messenger.


Food for thought.

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