One summer a few years back, I was in Florence for a wedding, and each morning of my week-long stay, I bought a brown paper bag of cherries from a little fruit shop. It was the highlight of a pretty miserable trip — I had the flu and the heat soared above 100 degrees every day — but that small ritual is the one thing I remember fondly. Since that trip, I always have cherries on hand throughout the summer.
Cherries and chocolate are one of my favorite flavor combinations, so when I found this recipe on sweetsugarbean I could hardly contain myself. It’s a lovely, from-scratch chocolate cake with baked in cherries, topped with caramelized bits of brown sugar. And while it sounds heavy, it’s actually a pretty light cake and the perfect companion to a tall, handsome glass of iced coffee.
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups pitted sour cherries (or 6 cups frozen cherries; thawed and drained)
Brown Sugar Topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
Cool Whip or fresh whipped cream
1. To make the brown sugar topping, combine the brown sugar and flour in a food processor. Cut in the butter by pulsing, until crumbly. Set aside.
2. To make the cake, whip the butter and brown sugar until fluffy then add the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients, then add them to the wet ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk.
3. Spread the cake batter into your greased pans. I used four mini springform pans and one 8″ cake pan. It also works for two 8″ cakes or one 9″ x 13″ cake. Bake at 350-degrees. Mini cakes: 20-25 minutes; 8″ round cakes: 35-40 minutes; 9″ x 13″ cakes: 40-45 minutes — or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Fill the springform pans only about 1/3 full. This cake does a lot of rising in the oven!)
4. Top with whipped cream.
*Adapted with minor changes from sweetsugarbean.
By the way, we got a cherry pitter for this recipe and I’m totally smitten with it. It’s like hole punching in the kitchen. What could be better than that? I also love that pitted cherries make it easy for kids to enjoy cherries too!