High Country Baking: Chocolate cherry cake
Chocolate and cherries … a classic combination captured beautifully in this cake. The moist, dark chocolate, tight-crumbed cake is pleasing on its own, but a topping of sweet cherry preserves adds a whole new dimension and the optional white chocolate drizzle provides flavor and visual appeal. It’s pretty to look at and delightful to eat.
Dutch-processed cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark) is responsible for the dark color and chocolate taste. You can substitute natural unsweetened cocoa powder, but the hue and flavor won’t be as strong. Be sure to select preserves that are high quality, mostly fruit and sugar, and you need not limit yourself to cherry, feel free to use your favorite preserves if they match well with chocolate cake.
Chocolate Cherry Cake
Adjusted for elevations of 7,000 feet and higher
Make in an 8 ½ inch shiny metal springform pan.
Active Time: 45 minutes Total time: 90 minutes
- 1/2 cup mild oil
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar, preferably superfine
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
- 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Up to 1 cup high quality cherry preserves, at room temperature
- 2 ounces white chocolate
- 1-2 teaspoons mild oil
Get Ready: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour, line it with a circle of parchment paper and grease the parchment paper.
Make the batter: In a mixing bowl, add the oil, eggs, milk and almond extract and whisk or beat with an electric mixer until well blended. In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Whisk until fully combined and any lumps of cocoa powder disappear. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones in four additions, whisking/beating with a mixer, after each addition until no dry ingredients are visible. A smooth, shiny batter should form.
Bake and cool: Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth and level the top. Tap the pan on a counter to remove any air bubbles and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Don’t overbake or the cake will be dry. Cool the cake, in the pan, on a rack.
Top with preserves: Run a knife or offset spatula between the cake and the pan sides, pressing towards the pan not the cake. Remove the pan sides and, if the cake top has domed, use a serrated knife to level it, and then invert the cake onto a cake circle or serving plate, so the bottom is now the top. Carefully remove the pan bottom and parchment circle. Stir the preserves and, if necessary, microwave them at a low temperature until they are loose and easily spreadable. Spread as much as you want, up to a cup, over the top of the cooled cake. The more you use, the sweeter the cake will taste and the stronger the cherry flavor will be.
Add drizzle, if using: Finely chop the white chocolate. Place it in a small, microwave-safe bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and heat at medium temperature in a microwave oven until it’s about half melted (white chocolate may burn if you heat it until it’s fully melted). Remove it from the oven and stir until melted and smooth. If too thick to drizzle, stir in another teaspoon of oil. Drizzle over the top of the preserves. Cover and refrigerate the cake until the drizzle sets.
Store and serve: Store the cake at room temperature for two days and up to four days in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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