I’m still in my cherry chocolate chip mode, so I made this layer cake with exactly the same recipe as the chocolate chip cherry cupcakes I made earlier. I thought I would see how the recipe would fare in the form of a layer cake, and I would say fare it did, and pretty well at that. The recipe for the cake is enough to make three 8-inch layers. Then I also made the same chocolate frosting and cherry buttercream as I did earlier for the cupcakes.
I include both recipes for the chocolate frosting and cherry buttercream, but either one of them will be enough to fill and frost the entire cake. The only reason why I made both again is because I couldn’t make up my mind which one to use, and whenever I’m faced with any kind of dilemma, I tend to throw everything in. I also thought two kinds of frosting would give me more options as far as decorating the cake.
The chocolate frosting is so far my favorite. I like it so much that if I had a choice between the frosting and eating a chocolate candy bar, I would choose the frosting. It goes well with yellow cake, chocolate cake, any kind of cake really. The texture is smooth and satiny because the powdered sugar is first stirred into hot milk and whisked to form a smooth mixture. The sweetness of the sugar is nicely balanced with the unsweetened chocolate. It is soft and smooth enough to cover a cake, yet firm enough to hold its shape when piped through a piping bag. It is a crusting type of frosting in that it will set after some minutes once spread or piped. Unused frosting can be kept in a tightly lidded bowl and can be made smooth again if you stir it with a spoon or rubber spatula. I also love its deep, dark, very intense color of chocolate.
I’ve tested two brands to make the chocolate frosting. Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate is my all-time favorite. This is one chocolate I always want to have in my pantry, if only for this frosting. It is nothing but just pure chocolate, and the color of the frosting always turns out deep and dark whenever I use it. The scent of the chocolate frosting on the cake is really, really heavenly. The fact that this brand of chocolate has been around since 1780 is a hallmark of how good it is. I think if you use even semi-sweet chocolate with this recipe, although I haven’t tested it, the frosting will turn out overly sweet. Another brand I’ve used recently for this recipe is Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate, which costs slightly more than Baker’s Chocolate. The frosting turns out alright with Ghirardelli’s. The texture of the frosting also turns out nice and smooth, although that sweet scent of chocolate is not as intense as frosting made with Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate. I use Ghirardelli for making ganache and Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate to make this chocolate frosting and for baking some chocolate cake recipes.
I found this all natural cherry flavor in Whole Foods. I think you can also find this brand on Amazon. I used one teaspoon of this cherry flavor to flavor the cherry buttercream, together with ½ teaspoon of almond extract. This cherry buttercream is also a crusting type of frosting. The flavor is sweet, that’s for sure. It goes well with the chocolate frosting and provides a nice contrast. The cake after all does have chocolate chips and cherries in it so the frostings merely echo what’s already in the cake.
The recipe for this cake uses the same proportions as my earlier Chocolate Chip Cherry Cupcakes recipe.
The speckled pattern made by the chocolate chips and chopped maraschino cherries on the cake layers can be quite pretty. It’s always a nice surprise whenever I turn the layers out of the pans. I used the chocolate frosting for filling the layers and also for partially covering the cake.
I used to bake only occasionally. Before I was married, I would use my mom’s KitchenAid stand mixer to make stuff and bring them to school to give away. My ever sweet and loving dad would always sample whatever I baked. And then one day, I finally got my very own first KitchenAid mixer, given to me by my husband who was then my boyfriend. I think that clinched the deal more than the ring did. The ring is almost always de rigueur and lots of guys do that anyway. But it’s not often that you hear of a guy buying a KitchenAid stand mixer for his girlfriend. The idea is so domestic, and yet so thoughtful. So fellow lovers of baking, if you are single and your boyfriend gives you a KitchenAid mixer, consider that a good sign.
The recipes for the chocolate frosting and the cherry buttercream are very generous. Again, if you decide to try this cake, you need only one type of frosting to fill and frost the cake. Since I wasn’t sure how to decorate the cake, I made both, but that’s just me. Besides, one of my pet peeves is running out of frosting when I’m right in the middle of decorating a cake. I would rather play it safe by having more than enough.
So now on to the taste test; the proof is always in the pudding, and in this case, the cake.
I’ve had this recipe before in its cupcake form and loved it. In its cake form, what can I say; the flavor of chocolate and cherries combined is just sweet harmony. It’s lush. Now again, I don’t mean lush as in the lush farmlands of the Shenandoah Valley, I simply mean luscious.
Seeing a cross section of the cake, I couldn’t help but be reminded, of all things, of one of my duffel bags.
It certainly wasn’t intentional. This bag has been in my closet for a while so I haven’t used it in ages. In fact, I’ve almost forgotten about it if not for this cake.
I think chocolate and cherries would be great in ice cream. That’s definitely something to think about.
- 4 cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg white
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips
- 1 cup maraschino cherries, stemmed, drained and chopped
- 8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate or 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons skim milk
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- ½ cup shortening
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup skim milk
- 1 teaspoon cherry extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Few drops of pink food color
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray three round 8-inch baking pans with non-stick spray.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Drain and chop maraschino cherries. Set aside.
- Whisk by hand the eggs, egg whites, milk, vanilla and almond extracts. Set aside.
- Using flat paddle of a stand mixer, on medium speed, cream the butter until smooth and creamy.
- Still on medium speed, gradually add sugar and beat until light and creamy.
- On low speed, pour ⅓ of the wet ingredients and beat until blended.
- Add about ⅓ of the dry ingredients and continue to mix just until blended. Repeat procedure alternating between the wet ingredients and dry ingredients, ending with the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer in between to scrape the bowl and continue to beat just until blended. Do not over beat.
- With a rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate chips, then gently fold in the chopped cherries.
- Divide batter evenly among prepared pans and level with an offset spatula.
- Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Transfer the pans onto a cooling rack and allow the layers to cool completely before turning out.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
- In a large pot, on medium heat, bring the milk to a near boil while whisking.
- Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar all at once. Whisk thoroughly until smooth and free of lumps. Set aside to cool to about lukewarm.
- On medium speed, beat butter until smooth. Add salt. Switch mixer speed to low and gradually pour the sugar mixture. Beat until well combined.
- Add the melted chocolate, then the vanilla. Beat the frosting until smooth and shiny.
- Cream butter until smooth and free of lumps.
- Add shortening and beat until well blended, scraping down bowl every so often. Add salt and beat until combined.
- On low speed, gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with a small amount of milk. Repeat until all the powdered sugar and milk have been added and blended.
- Add cherry and almond extracts then mix in a few drops of pink food color. Beat just until smooth and creamy.
Cherry Chocolate Chip Layer Cake