Have you ever arrived to a party, food in hand, and had a “Homer moment?” You know, where you have to stifle an internal, “D’oh!” and then have to decide whether or not to hide your plate of baked goodies in one of the hostess’ cabinets? It usually happens innocently enough, like when you show up with a plate of peanut brittle only to realize that half the crowd has a severe nut allergy. Then there are those far more obvious moments, like today.
My sisters birthday sneaked by with little fan fare while most of the family was on vacation in early September. To surprise her, I baked her a separate birthday cake in her favorite dessert flavor (or at least her favorite childhood Dairy Queen Blizzard flavor, chocolate-covered cherries) to turn my mom’s birthday party into a double birthday party.
With much love, a gigantic mess, and more cursing than I care to admit, I turned a pile of raw ingredients into a rich, decadent Tipsy Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake for my sister’s birthday – a rich chocolate cake baked with drunken cherries, filled with Kirsch-flavored buttercream, and smothered in chocolate ganache. Decadent is right!
I show up, beautiful cake in hand, and proudly hand over the boozy confection coated in glassy-smooth ganache to my sister amid a small chorus of ooohs and aaahs. My 7-months pregnant sister. [Homer moment goes here] I then have to quietly explain to her how I’ve put more than a half cup of booze into her birthday cake.
They say it’s the thought that counts but I obviously didn’t think The cake went over well even though my sister enjoyed most of it from the sidelines.
Chocolate Covered Cherries Cake, adapted from Chocolatier Magazine
A tasty treat for sure. The creamy frosting is far superior to the quickie butter-and-confectioner’s sugar recipe that I normally use. The recipe looks a bit long but don’t let that discourage you. Most of the items are staples – the only things I didn’t have on hand were the Kirsch (Kirchwasser) and cherries.
Chocolate Covered-Cherries Cake
A wonderfully rich chocolate cake studded with cherries and topped with meringue buttercream and ganache.
- For the cake:
- 1 cup dried, pitted tart cherries
- 1/2 cup Kirsch
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup natural cocoa powder (do not use Dutch-process)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup sour cream (full-fat)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup hot water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp Kirsch
- For the Kirsch buttercream frosting:
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, cubed and softened
- 1-2 Tbsp Kirsch (to taste)
- For the Chocolate ganache:
- 1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- *To make the cake:
- Place cherries and Kirsch in an airtight container and allow to sit for at least 1 hour, until cherries are plump. I sped things along a bit by simmering the cherries and Kirsch in a small saucepan for a few minutes.
- Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter bottom and sides of two 9" round pans, dust with flour, and tap out the excess. I used cocoa instead of flour.
- Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix on low for 1-2 minutes.
- Add sour cream, eggs, oil, water, vanilla, and Kirsch to the mixing bowl. Mix on low until incorporated and turn mixer off. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix for 1 minute on medium-high speed. Which ever setting is 4 clicks from off :)
- Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pans and cool completely on a rack
- *To make the frosting
- In bowl of stand mixer, whisk together egg whites, salt, and sugar until thoroughly combined. Place bowl over pan of simmering water and whisk continuously until sugar dissolves and egg whites are hot. (Buy eggs that are labeled "pasteurized" and take the guess work out of "how hot.")
- Place bowl on mixer stand and whip mixture on medium-high speed until light, fluffy and cooled (use the whisk attachment). Switch to paddle attachment and continue to beat mixture, adding the butter in 3 batches until completely incorporated. Add the Kirsch and mix for 1 minute more.
- *To make the ganache:
- Place chocolate in a bowl large enough to handle the chocolate, cream, and "whisking waves." Bring cream to a low boil over medium heat. Shake bowl if necessary to make sure the chocolate is completely submerged. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.
- *Assemble the cake:
- Level the cakes. Frost the top and sides of the bottom layer with half of the buttercream frosting. Top with second cake layer and frost with remaining buttercream. Place cake in the freezer/fridge for 15 minutes until buttercream is firm.
- Place a wire rack over a baking pans and place cake on rack. Slowly pour half of ganache over the top of the cake, allowing it to run evenly down the sides. Use an offset spatula to ensure that entire cake is covered. Repeat with remaining ganache. Put cake on a clean platter/cake stand and place cake in the fridge until set, about 30 minutes.
Yields: ~12-16 servings
Estimated time: 2 hours 30 minutes