Chocolate Cherry Cake

A month ago, I was unprepared to take on vegan baking. As a traditional baker (and purveyor of butter and cream), it was a sincere challenge for me to alter everything I thought I knew about baking. I complained about it loudly to anyone who would listen, as I scraped attempt after attempt into the trash. It wasn't that I didn't do enough research before creating recipes; I simply didn't have the experience with vegan baking to make the recipes my own.

I was unreasonable and, as a few of you pointed out, unfair to take my frustration with my own inadequacy at vegan baking out on a lifestyle choice. For this, I apologize.

After two weeks of struggled baking, a switch finally clicked. The cakes and cookies that came out of the oven no longer went into the garbage can, but were proudly shared with family and friends. My goal to create vegan recipes that did not use hard-to-find or unusual ingredients was becoming a reality and I couldn't be happier. The recipes were not only dairy-free and egg-free, but absolutely delicious in their own right. It was an inspiration.

Even though my vegan challenge is over, I confess I haven't gone to the store to buy butter or eggs just yet (gasp!). When I find myself faced with a warm oven, I don't feel like I'm done creating and experimenting with vegan recipes. Over the next couple weeks, you might spot a few more popping up (and I think you'll fall in love with them as much as I did).

Recently, I had several pounds of cherries resting in the refrigerator. They were an impulse buy at the market when I saw the price tag had considerably dropped. I ate my way through half the sweet fruit before I realized they were going to go bad before the rest would get eaten. One of the downsides to living alone is that when you buy pounds of several varieties of fruit at once, there is no conceivable way you'll be able to eat them all by yourself (note to self: lesson learned). With a chocolate craving in the back of my mind, and a love for cherries and chocolate, a cake seemed to be in order.

I honestly could have eaten half of this cake in a single sitting. It seems only fair to advise you, this cake should come with a warning label.

This Chocolate Cherry Cake has a rich, chocolate base with sweet, bursting cherries. The cherries are folded into a basic chocolate cake batter before rising delicately in the oven and the final cake is topped with a dark, decadent chocolate glaze. Use high quality chocolate for the best flavor. I love to eat this cake chilled from the refrigerator, but it can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. This cake is simple to garnish and aims to impress.

One Year Ago: Blueberry Hand Pies
Two Years Ago: Margaritas

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from Cookie + Kate

Yields 1 9-inch cake

Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 cups dark cherries, pitted and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil, and water. Using a spatula, mix the batter until smooth. Stir in the cherries.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons hot water
Chocolate shavings (for garnish)

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Stir in hot water and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. If the chocolate appears to seize up, keep stirring. After a few minutes, it will turn into a workable consistency.

Spread the icing lightly onto the cooled cake and garnish with chocolate shavings and cherries.

To store for longer than a day, place the cake into an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator. I preferred this cake best when cold, but you can certainly allow the cake to warm up to room temperature before serving.