Posted on Saturday, 21st July 2012 by Grace Massa Langlois
I love the combination of dark chocolate and raspberries but when I want an extra special chocolate cake I bring out the cherries. Cherries marry well with a lot of flavours, almonds, coffee, orange, vanilla, white chocolate but they pair especially magnificent with dark chocolate.
And the best thing about these juicy, dark gems is that you don’t have to do much to them to make them shine (no pun intended). I glazed them in reduced simple syrup infused with Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur) and vanilla. For those of you that would prefer a non-alcoholic glaze, replace the liqueur with black currant juice, orange juice or apricot nectar (apricot and cherries – yum!).
When I shared my recipe for Vanilla Bean-Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with you I mentioned I’d purchased a new cookbook, Bake Wise by Shirley Corriher. I’m not sure if I should classify it as a cookbook, it does contain recipes so in principal I guess it is a cookbook but it’s so much more than that. If you’re interested in the science of baking this book is for you.
I’ve picked up so many wonderful tips from Shirley and I was anxious to try her technique for producing a dark chocolate cake that is almost black.
At first glance, the recipe may appear over leavened, well it is. And because it’s over leavened you may be concerned that the cake will sink in the middle. It’s a valid concern but let me alleviate your fears, using Shirley’s technique will prevent the cake from sinking in the middle and the end result produces a dark, almost black chocolate cake.
To get a deep dark colour Shirley uses Dutch process cocoa and adds a good amount of baking soda because it makes the chocolate alkaline and therefore it produces a cake that is almost black. To counter the over leavening, Shirley adds boiling water to the mixture of Dutch process cocoa and baking soda causing the soda to react (bubbles up) and give off a lot of carbon dioxide, which in turn reduces the leavening and prevents the cake from sinking – genius!
Another tip to keep in mind when using cocoa in your recipes, adding boiling water to the cocoa before adding it to the other ingredients will enhance its flavours.
I was compelled (the inner voice was relentless) to carry on with the dark chocolate and cherry combination so I topped this moist chocolate cake with a sinful layer of extra bittersweet Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache.
If there’s every a day you need a pick me up, turn to this Chocolate Cherry Cake – pure chocolate-cherry bliss!
Dark Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache
- Dark Chocolate Cake
- Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache
- Cherry Purée
- Glazed Cherries
Dark Chocolate Cake
Adapted from BakeWise
You’ll see in this recipe I’ve substituted Shirley’s boiling water with coffee. I use coffee quite often when I’m adding cocoa to recipes because I find it enhances the flavour of the cocoa as well. If you’re not a coffee lover, please feel free to substitute the coffee with boiling water.
- 42 g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 18 to 24 g (2 to 3 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa, for dusting baking tin
- 72 g (¾ cup) Dutch process cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 250 g (1¼ cups) golden yellow sugar (light brown sugar)
- 225 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 240 ml (1 cup) freshly brewed strong coffee (or water)
- 250 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 180 ml (¾ cup) canola oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 120 ml (½ cup) buttermilk
- Using large pastry brush, grease 25-cm (10-inch) baking tin with softened butter. Line base and sides of tin with non-stick baking paper and grease paper. Dust tin with unsweetened cocoa powder tapping out any excess.
- Using fine mesh sieve, sift Dutch process cocoa, baking soda, salt and brown sugar onto a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Transfer to heavy saucepan and add caster sugar. Whisk to well combine.
- In small saucepan bring brewed coffee to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and while whisking constantly gradually add the boiling coffee to the cocoa mixture. (It will bubble up at first and then get dark and start to thicken.) Whisk the mixture quickly, return to medium heat and bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow mixture to stand in the saucepan for at least 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F). Using fine mesh sieve, sift the flour onto a sheet of non-stick baking paper.
- Pour the hot cocoa mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and attach the paddle. Add the oil and vanilla; beat at low speed, about 10 seconds.
- Gradually add the flour, beating at low speed to just combine.
- Beat in the whole eggs, egg yolk and buttermilk just to combine, do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin, tap gently on the counter to release any air bubbles that may have formed.
- Bake until the centre feels springy and a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 45 minutes.
- Transfer to wire rack and allow the cake to cool in the tin, 10 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the baking tin, transfer to wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely.
Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache
I prepared my own cherry purée with frozen, pitted cherries (see below). When preparing fresh fruit purée I generally sweeten with 10% sugar.
- 135 ml (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) heavy (whipping) cream, 35%
- 170 g (¾ cup) cherry purée
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) honey
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
- 300 g (10½ ounces) good quality dark chocolate, bittersweet, 60% or extra bittersweet, 70%
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 equal pieces, softened
- In a small saucepan, bring cream, cherry purée, honey, vanilla bean and seeds just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring continuously until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat, cover and let stand at room temperature, 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the chocolate and transfer to the bowl of a food processor.
- Return the cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the vanilla bean.
- Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand, 2 minutes.
- Process until smooth. Add butter and continue to process, scraping down sides, until smooth.
- To ensure a smooth ganache, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl (to catch any bits of skin from the cherries). Let stand allowing the ganache to cool to room temperature and thicken, about 2 hours.
To prepare Cherry Purée
I’ve used frozen, pitted cherries but you can also use fresh cherries. If using fresh cherries, I recommend adding the water or fruit juice when preparing the purée.
Makes about 6 ounces
- 154 g (about 1 cup) fresh or frozen, pitted Bing cherries
- 16 g (1 heaping tablespoon) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water or liqueur (optional)
- Place cherries in a small saucepan. If using frozen, let stand until thawed.
- Stir in sugar and water (or liqueur). (If the cherries give off a lot of juice I would refrain from adding the water but if you would like to flavour with liqueur add 1 to 2 tablespoons to taste (remember 2 tablespoons may appear to be a lot in this small amount of purée but the purée will be used to prepare the ganache). Place over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved and cherries are fork tender.
- Transfer cherry mixture to blender jar and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Process to a purée. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into small saucepan and proceed with preparation for ganache.
When I prepared the glazed cherries, I pitted some, cut some in half but I also left some with the pits (I preferred the look). If you plan on leaving the pits in, please warn your guests.
- 480 ml (2 cups) water
- 300 g (1 1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 240 ml (1 cup) Crème de Cassis, or non-alcoholic option-black currant juice, orange juice or apricot nectar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 650 g (about 4½ cups) fresh Bing cherries, washed and pitted (see header)
- In a medium saucepan, bring water, sugar, liqueur, and vanilla to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cook (at a boil) until syrup is thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. (The syrup should be thick enough to coat the cherries but still fluid.) Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature, about 5 minutes.
- Place the cherries in a deep, heatproof bowl. Pour the syrup over the cherries and carefully stir (be careful not to bruise the cherries) with a large spoon. If the cherries are not completely submerged, stir occasionally to coat. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until syrup is completely cooled.
For best flavour, please allow cherries to come to room temperature (decorate when cold) before serving.
- Transfer cake-to-cake stand or plate.
- Spoon ganache onto centre of cake. Spread evenly to the sides of the cake with an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon.
- Drain cherries (reserve syrup for other uses, cocktails, compotes, sauces, to flavour sponge cake or to drizzle over cake). Place whole cherries, standing upright, on a sheet of paper towel (to dab off the excess syrup). Decorate cake with fresh cherries.
- Buon Appetito!
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