A tender chocolate cake with real cherry filling, topped with rich ganache. A chocolate lover couldn’t ask for more.
- 2 cups (260 grams) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
- ½ cup (48 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup boiling water
- 2 ounces (57 grams) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 2 cups (408 grams) sugar
- 1 cup (8 ounces/227 grams/2 sticks) cultured butter, slightly softened
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Whipped Cream and Cherry Filling:
- 1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
- ¼ cup (300 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon Kirsch or cherry eau de vie, or more to taste
- 2 cups pitted fresh cherries, halved, plus a few more pitted but left whole for garnish (see Kitchen Tip)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3⅓ cups (20 ounces/570 grams) semisweet chocolate (coverture style or other high-quality) chopped
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spray 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Add 1 tablespoon flour to each of the pans and swirl the flour to coat the bottoms and sides.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the cocoa and hot water and whisk to form a a paste.
- In a small saucepan, combine the dark chocolate and milk, set over medium heat, and cook, stirring as the chocolate melts, for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk a small amount of the heated chocolate milk into the cocoa paste and then whisk the cocoa-and-milk mixture in the bowl back into the chocolate milk mixture in the pot. Return to the heat, stir for 1 minute, remove from the heat, and cool until tepid.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the sugar and butter together. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating between each addition, and add the vanilla. Slowly stir in the chocolate mixture.
- Combine the remaining flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Using a spatula, slowly add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in the bowl.
- In another large, clean (see Kitchen Tip) mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Bake for 30 minutes and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Gently remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool.
- While the cake is baking, make the whipped cream filling. Pour the chilled heavy cream into the bowl (preferably a chilled one) of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk until it starts to thicken slightly. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until it holds a swirl and has firm peaks.
- Make the chocolate glaze frosting: heat the cream to a simmer; then remove it from the heat. Add the finely chopped chocolate and the vanilla paste and stir until smooth.
- Assemble the cake: Place a cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to slice each cake horizontally into 2 disks to form 4 layers. Pick out the ugliest one and crumble it into crumbs. Place one of the cake layers on a cake round (or flat paper plate), and set it on the prepared cooling rack. Generously coat the top with about half of the whipped cream and spread it out to the sides. Arrange half of the cut cherries (cut side down), around the whipped cream. Top with the second cake layer and repeat with the remaining whipped cream and cut cherries. Top with the third cake layer.
- Glaze the cake: Pour half of the chocolate glaze directly over the center of the top of the cake and allow it to drip down the sides. Use a spatula to make sure that the sides are completely coated. Allow the chocolate coating to firm up on the cake, and pour a second coat over the cake. Coat the sides with the cake crumbs. Arrange the reserved cherries on top.
- You can roughly chop the fresh cherries and fold them into the whipped cream for a better slice, but it will make the whipped cream weep a bit. You can also strew the chopped cherries on top of the whipped cream while building the cake. Alternatively, if it isn’t cherry season, you could use chopped, drained Morello cherries.
- If you love kirsch, moisten a pastry brush with kirsch and dab on each layer before you coat it with whipped cream.
- Want it to be super-cherry? Spread a thin coating of high-quality cherry preserves over the chocolate cake layers before you coat it with whipped cream. You can even add some kirsch to the cherry preserves for a little over-the-top action.
Want to change it up a bit? Try fresh tart cherries.