Make Ahead

Sam's Favorite Chocolate Cake

September 25, 2009
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I recently reunited with my father after over 40 years, along with a newly discovered 15 year old half-brother, Sam. Their visit fell on Sam’s birthday and so I asked him what his favorite dessert was. In typical teenage fashion, he shrugged, looked down at the ground and said that he didn’t have one. “Come on, Sam,” I said, “everyone has a favorite dessert.” He finally admitted that he liked a chocolate cherry cake his mother used to make for him. As he described the cake, any sign of teen angst melted away. I called his mom and she was kind enough to send her recipe on to me so that I could make it for his birthday. I played around with it, less flour, less sugar, more chocolate, and came up with this. Chocolate cake, it seems, can bridge any distance. —sweet enough

  • Serves 1 cake
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 scant teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup good quality sour cherry jam
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  2. Place the cocoa and 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate in a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Stir until all the chocolate is melted. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.
  4. Alternate mixing in the dry ingredients and the melted chocolate mixture. Do not over mix.
  5. Pour batter into two 9-inch cake pans and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. To make the frosting, pour the cream into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir in the 8 ounces of chocolate. Whisk until smooth and shiny.
  7. Place the jam in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until it loosens enough to pour it over the cake.
  8. When the cakes are done and cooled invert one on to a plate and spread the cherry jam over it. I find it better to spread the jam over the "bottom" of the cake since it is always flat. place the other cake layer on top and pour the frosting over the whole thing. Decorate with whipped cream and cherries for an extra happy-looking cake.
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