Chocolate + cherry = unique + good, but maybe not for everyone. You either like it or you don’t. If you don’t like it, move on to something more boring like my most excellent Classic Shortbread Cookie. If you do like the combo, then read on, partner.
There used to be a chocolate candy with a liquid cherry center that I liked as a kid. Although it wasn’t a regular part of my chocolate bar rotation, it made an appearance every 20 bars or so (so that probably translates to once a week since I ate a lot of chocolate bars growing up. What else was allowance for?). I don’t remember what it was called, but it came in a little yellow box and (—okay, I took the 12 seconds to look it up on the internet machine and here’s the scoop: it’s called a Cherry Blossom and the wise Wikipedia people have this to say about it: “It consists of a maraschino cherry and cherry syrup surrounded by a mixture of chocolate, coconut and roasted peanut pieces”. Sounds good, right? But they then present this point: “Contrary to common myth, filling is not injected inside the chocolate. The cherry candy is coated with an enzyme that breaks down the solid into a liquid over the next 1 to 2 weeks.” Um, huh? What myth are they talking about? And enzymes? Sometimes Wikipedia is so entertaining. And sometimes ignorance is bliss.)
Okay, so if you’re looking for a different kind of cake, and you want a few more cherries in your life, I present this recipe to you. It’s missing the coconut and peanut that the Cherry Blossom features (which you could totally add in, if you’re feeling inspired by an enzyme-laden chocolate treat that they probably don’t even make anymore), but it’s still pretty kick butt.
Cheers to cherries!
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
2 cups hot water
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules (or 1 teaspoon instant espresso granules)- optional
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup maraschino cherries, roughly chopped
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
- Preheat oven to 350° and spray two loaf pans with non-stick spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients (flour through salt) together.
- In a measuring cup, stir hot water with oil, vinegar, instant coffee/espresso and vanilla together. Pour into bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Stir in chopped cherries.
- Pour batter into pans and bake for 35 minutes (until cake tester/wooden skewer comes out clean). Cool cakes on a rack for 15 minutes then remove cakes and place onto rack to finish cooling.
- GLAZE: in a measuring cup, stir sifted icing sugar with maraschino cherry juice. Add more sugar or juice until glaze reaches thick pouring consistency. Pour over tops of cooled loaves, allowing some to drip over edges of cakes. Allow to set then slice and serve.
- No homemade maraschinos at the ready? It’s okay, you can use real cherries (as long as they are sweet and not too sour). If you use real cherries and they’re re still hard and tart, put in a small saucepan with a 1/4 cup of sugar and a 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then simmer on low for a few minutes until soft. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. (You can even use canned cherry pie filling in a pinch. I won’t tell.)
- To avoid the Case of the Sinking Cherries, sprinkle some of the flour mixture (like about a tablespoon) over the cherries and stir to lightly coat them before adding to the batter- they’ll stay suspended in the cake instead of sinking to the bottom while baking.
- Why add instant espresso/coffee granules? It really enhances the flavor of the chocolate. But you can skip if you’d like- the cherries can steal the show in this recipe. Just don’t skip if you’re making the cake on it’s own- the gloriously unadorned and beautifully chocolate-focused cake screams for the almost imperceptible flavor of coffee to take it to the next level.
- By all means, make these in two 8″ cake pans instead of loaf pans. Just bake 5 minutes less… I was just making loaves because I get tired of round cakes. But round can be glorious. (IDEA: serve the cake with whipped cream plopped in center of the top layer, with the cherry glaze layered in between the two cake layers.)
- Find yourself some Cherry Blossom chocolates (if they truly do exist) and chop them up, then scatter them over the top of the cakes, sort of in an homage to the Astonishing Chocolate Bar Cake. Oh, yes.