A richly flavored chocolate cherry cake made from scratch with cherry pie filling. One secret ingredient adds a sophisticated depth of flavor. This recipe yields the perfect batter amount for a standard bundt pan or a 9×13 baking pan – your choice.
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- Read on for step by step pictures, video demo and relevant tips (2 mins)
Our recipe for chocolate cherry cake leverages one of the best loved flavor combinations in desserts and does so boldly.
At first glance it appears to be double chocolate or triple chocolate cake, depending on whether you use both dark and semi-sweet choc chips for the glaze (an easy ganache) or use the same type. But once you count our secret ingredient it becomes an elegantly flavored quadruple chocolate cake – a delight for the palate.
Whenever we want to amplify the chocolate presence in a dessert we often fall back on the robust flavors of a chocolate ale, derived from especially roasted malts, such as those used in many porters and stouts. Chocolate malt is responsible for the dark cocoa-like character of porters and stouts. We also make sure to use brown sugar, which when baked into a batter boosts cocoa. All the dark sweet flavors contrast with the slightly tart flavor of the cherries.
More Notes on the Ingredients
- Cake flour. Because it has less gluten it will give the cake a lighter texture. All-purpose flour will work as well, be sure to not overmix the batter.
- Cocoa powder/cacao. Use either cacao powder (higher in protein, fiber, magnesium and iron) or unsweetened cocoa (more affordable). Here is which is which.
- Olive oil. It will keep the cake moist (pure healthy fat vs butter which contains water that dries out during baking). A fruity extra virgin one is our recommendation.
- Milk stout/milk. Our top choice for this cake is the popular stout style brewed with lactose. Low to no-bitterness, sweetness from the added lactose which is a non-fermentable sugar and stays in the ale, and tons of chocolate nuances. Milk stouts are very easy to find, you can even grab a single can at Trader Joe’s for almost nothing, but you can also go with most stouts, porters, English brown ales brewed with chocolate malt. You can literally taste the difference when a stout or other chocolatey ale is added. If you choose not use a stout at all, then simply add milk and enjoy a triple chocolate cherry cake:).
- Cherry pie filling. Use the kind without any sugar added. It is moderately sweet, due to the fruit’s sweetness alone, and balances out the sweet party of the sugars.
- Chocolate chips. Use any you have on hand, but if you fold in dark chocolate in the batter their stronger taste pops.
- Other ingredients. While you can use regular table sugar only, we like to substitute with part dark brown sugar to enhance the chocolate notes in the batter. Eggs, baking soda and powder, a bit of vanilla extract and heavy cream for the ganache complete the list of what you need.
Bundt Pan Cake or Sheet Pan Cake?
- You can bake this cake in either a 10 cup or a 12 cup bundt pan. The 10 cup bundt pan actually holds about 6 cups of batter (known as bakable capacity) and the 12 cup bundt pan holds about 7 cups of batter.
- If you want to bake it as a sheet cake a standard 9×13 inch baking pan will be perfect size-wise.
- Finally, if you feel like creating a standard looking cake, the batter is sufficient for two 9 inch round cake pans. Then decorate with the chocolate ganache and more cherry pie filling.
TIP: A silicone bundt pan such as the one you see us use in this post makes the unmolding of the bundt cake a breeze.
The steps to baking this chocolate cherry cake are pretty standard as you can see above from the step-by-step image sequence. Here are a few helpful words of advice:
- Mix the two types of sugar well before you start adding the olive oil, beaten eggs and other wet ingredients. Dark brown sugar tends to clump so make sure it is is thoroughly combined with the table sugar.
- Make sure the milk stout is at room temperature – it will be integrated easier.
- Pick out only the cherries from the pie filling to fold into the batter (best you can).
- Do not overmix the batter once you add the dry ingredients to the wet, especially if you are not using pastry flour (cake flour).
- When making the chocolate ganache, leave the semi-sweet choc chips in the hot heavy cream for a minute before you begin stirring.
TIP: Once the ganache has solidified a little bit you can drizzle the juices from the cherry pie filling over the cake for a striking color contrast as well as a flavor one – hints of fruity tartness (if you used unsweetened filling as recommended).
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Chocolate Cherry Cake
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup milk stout (substitute with milk)*
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup cherry pie filling, unsweetened**
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (a bit more if you'd like)
- 3 cups cake flour***
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
CHOCOLATE CHERRY CAKE
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a bundt pan (10 or 12 cup will both work).
2. In a bowl combine the table and the dark brown sugars and mix well. Add the olive oil, stir to incorporate. Add the beaten eggs, stir again. Add the milk stout (or milk) and vanilla, stir. Set aside.
3. Mix together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients without overmixing.
4. Fold in the cherry pie filling and dark chocolate chips and transfer the batter into the bundt pan.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake come out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before topping with chocolate ganache.
1.In a bowl place the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Heat the heavy cream until it just begins to bubble and pour over the chips. Allow to sit for about a minute, then gently stir until homogenous.
2. Pour over the cherry chocolate cake.
3. Once the ganache has cooled over the cake, you can drizzle some of the reserved liquids from the cherry pie filling over the cake as well.
*Milk stout is a semi-sweet dark ale with unmistakable, elegant chocolatey flavor. It is brewed with chocolate malt which gives it the cocoa nuances and lactose which makes it sweet. You can substitute with a regular chocolate stout, porter or English brown ale which have similar characteristics. You can also add milk or chocolate milk instead.
**To add to the batter pick out the actual cherries and reserve the juices for drizzling over the cake.
***You can substitute with all-purpose, just be sure to not overmix batter so cake remains light and airy.
This cake can also be baked in a 9x13 inch baking pan or two 9 inch round cake pans. Refer to the body of the post for helpful tips and notes on bundt pan sizes, cocoa/cacao powder.
The cake freezes well. We recommend you slice it first so you can reheat one or two individual slices later on in the microwave - about 40 seconds or so. Top with vanilla ice cream:)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 532Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 212mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 3gSugar: 43gProtein: 6g