Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

There has been lots of conversation about grains recently. Many opinions and theories and personal stories about whether or not they should be eaten, and if so, which ones, and by whom. One of the voices I trust the most on the topic is Maria Speck. She is endlessly thoughtful and has meticulously researched the subject. You will see both a passionate and intellectual pursuit of delicious grain filled recipes in her latest book “simply ancient grains.” A few years ago I would have warned you that some of these grains are a bit challenging to find, but thanks to folks like Maria, these grains can be found in most grocery stores and easily had online.

Instead of summarizing Maria’s words on the subject of grains, I invite you not only to take a look at her beautiful book, but also to read the words she recently wrote in the Washington Post on the importance of grains.

Simply Ancient Grains Cookbook by Maria Speck | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

As I flipped through Maria’s book I was struck by this photograph by Erin Kunkel. I just knew this was the recipe I’d start with. The chocolate cherry cake looked absolutely perfect baked in a loaf pan, but I wanted a slightly more festive presentation, so I took Maria’s exact recipe, but just baked it in cake pans instead. Your friends and family will never know that this chocolate cherry cake is made with whole grain Kamut flour (more about that in a minute), they’ll just know it is chocolatey and delicious.

Maria Speck’s Dark Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream

Chocolate Cherry Cake:

1/2 cup (65 g) finely chopped dried cherries

2 tablespoons Marsala wine or apple juice

1 cup (130 g) whole grain Kamut flour – (this is an ancient grain originally from Iran, but now grown in Egypt, Turkey and Montana that is high in protein, has a lovely golden color and buttery aroma. You can read more about it in her book)

1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (200 g) sugar

1 tablespoon honey

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (see how to make your own)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup (75 g) finely chopped dark chocolate

Marsala Cream:

1/2 cup dried tart cherries*

1/4 cup Marsala wine

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

*cherries are best soaked for at least 6 hours, so do it the night ahead of baking the cake. See tip below for trick to doing this faster.

Chocolate Cherry Cake Batter | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

To make the cake:

preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Prepare 9×5-inch loaf pan or three 6-inch round cake pans with butter and line with parchment and butter the parchment. Dust with cocoa and shake out excess.

In a small bowl let sit the cherries and Marsala wine while mixing the rest of the cake.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, and salt. If the cocoa powder is particularly lumpy put it through a strainer.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light in texture and color, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides down as needed. Add honey and mix thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Beat in the vanilla.

Slowly mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half the buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl after each and then repeat with both flour and buttermilk, ending with last 1/3 of flour.

Stir in the cherries and chocolate. Maria said to drain the cherries and pat them dry, but I utterly forgot and it all turned out great.

Chocolate Cherry Cake Batter in Three Round Cake Pans | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and use a spatula to level the batter.

Chocolate Cherry Cake | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Baking times:

9×5-inch loaf pan bakes for about 50 to 55 minutes.

Three 6-inch cake pans bake for about 20 to 30 minutes. Because these are so thin you really don’t want to overbake them or they will be dry. The tester should come out with wet crumbs, but not batter.

Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then remove them from the pans and let them cool completely.

To make the Marsala Cream:

*Soak the cherries and wine together for at least 6 hours. Maria has a great tip if you are in a rush. You can microwave the cherries and wine for about 30 seconds, allow them to cool and then use them right away.

Drain and cherries and reserve the wine.

Whip the cream and sugar to medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold the cherries into the cream.

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Put about a cup of cream on a layer of the cake and spread it to the edges.

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Repeat with the other layers of the cake.

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Use the remaining cream to cover the outside of the cake. You can watch my videos on how to do this on YouTube.

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Because of the cherry cream finish on the cake, it is most beautiful on the first day, but still delicious on day two.

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream and a Book Giveaway
 
Ingredients
  • Chocolate Cherry Cake:
  • ½ cup (65 g) finely chopped dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala wine or apple juice
  • 1 cup (130 g) whole grain Kamut flour*
  • ½ cup (40 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (see how to make your own)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup (75 g) finely chopped dark chocolate
  • Marsala Cream:
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries**
  • ¼ cup Marsala wine
  • 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Instructions
  1. To make the cake: Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  2. Prepare 9x5-inch loaf pan or three 6-inch round cake pans with butter and line with parchment and butter the parchment. Dust with cocoa and shake out excess.
  3. In a small bowl let sit the cherries and Marsala wine while mixing the rest of the cake.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, and salt. If the cocoa powder is particularly lumpy put it through a strainer.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light in texture and color, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides down as needed. Add honey and mix thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Slowly mix in ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by half the buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl after each and then repeat with both flour and buttermilk, ending with last ⅓ of flour.
  7. Stir in the cherries and chocolate. Maria said to drain the cherries and pat them dry, but I utterly forgot and it all turned out great. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and use a spatula to level the batter.
  8. Baking times: 9x5-inch loaf pan bakes for about 50 to 55 minutes.
  9. Three 6-inch cake pans bake for about 20 to 30 minutes. Because these are so thin you really don't want to over bake them or they will be dry. The tester should come out with wet crumbs, but not batter.
  10. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then remove them from the pans and let them cool completely.
  11. To make the Marsala Cream: Soak the cherries and wine together for at least 6 hours. Maria has a great tip if you are in a rush. You can microwave the cherries and wine for about 30 seconds, allow them to cool and then use them right away. Drain and cherries and reserve the wine. Whip the cream and sugar to medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold the cherries into the cream.
  12. Put about a cup of cream on a layer of the cake and spread it to the edges. Repeat with the other layers of the cake. Use the remaining cream to cover the outside of the cake.
Notes
*this is an ancient grain originally from Iran, but now grown in Egypt, Turkey and Montana that is high in protein, has a lovely golden color and buttery aroma. You can read more about it in Maria Speck's book.
**cherries are best soaked for at least 6 hours, so do it the night ahead of baking the cake. See tip below for trick to doing this faster.

 

 

80 thoughts to “Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream”

  1. I love grains and actually feel better when I eat more, rather than less, whole grains. So I don’t foresee ever going grain-free. I would love to learn more about ancient grains, especially with yummy-sounding recipes like this one.

  2. I’ve experimented with new grains in the past before, but were usually constrained to a single recipe. A whole cookbook would be so useful!

  3. This book looks incredible. I have it on my Christmas list. Crossing my fingers so I can bake and eat my way through it!

  4. this cake looks wonderful. the book, simply ancient grains, seems to have great recipes when I looked through the book on Amazon. Looks like a great delicious way to up the whole grains and down the meat.

  5. I love whole grains! I started trying more lesser-known grains (at least to me) last year and am so glad I did! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  6. This is on my list to bake. I wholeheartedly agree with Maria on the benefits of real grains. I try to keep my baking to the odd ones and everything seems to come out fine, even after I cut back the sugar amount, usually using palm sugar. Your riff on the recipe is fabulous. Thank you.

  7. This cake is RIGHT UP MY ALLEY! I also love grains and think having an opportunity to have some recipes to use ancient grains would be wonderful!

  8. I often use kamut and spelt flours in place of all purpose for breads. It’s great to see kamut used for something more delicate as well. I will definitely try this recipe (you got my attention with the dried cherries.)
    Thanks.

  9. Wow! This cake looks wonderful. I had read a lot of good things about Maria Speck’s first book on ancient grains. I’d love to have this one!

  10. I love the idea of using Kamut flour. I’ve never baked with it before but I love using ancient grains in my everyday cooking. This cake looks scrumptious!

  11. I love chocolate and cherry combo. I have made choco cherry cake but with fresh cherries but I think I would use dried ones next time. And, also will have to try to use Kamut flour. Sounds really healthy and interesting.

  12. You know, you never said what you did with the wine you soaked the cherries in. (I hope you drank it!) It would be awesome brushed on the warm cakes after they come out of the oven.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      I, of course, drank it. Maria never said what to do with it, so I assumed it was meant for a little baker’s treat! 🙂

      Cheers, Zoë

  13. I’ve recently started eating different grains, because they are easy to find nowadays. I’m not always sure what to do with them, but a little olive oil and some herbs go a long way to making an interesting grain salad.

  14. I love Maria’s recipes. Made her floating bread from hey previous book and was marveled at how well it worked. Your idea to turn this into a layer cake is brilliant!

  15. Wow! This makes me want to purchase 6 inch layer pans. What a presentation! I love your blog! And I really love what Maria teaches on grains. I would be honored to win this cookbook, and am very exited about learning more about your blog!

  16. Love to see new recipes using ancient grains. I bake with Kamut weekly. Our local organic food co-op orders directly from the farmers who grows the Kamut. They grow it, mill it, and ship it keeping the grains and flours out of the hands of middle men and big agra corporations. (montanaflour.com for more info)

    They actually have TWO Kamut flours- whole grain and white flour. The white flour Kamut can be exchanged for AP flour oz for oz. I bake all the family’s bread, rolls, and buns using white flour Kamut. I’d love to see Zoe include the next bread cookbook with some Kamut recipes. I plan to make this cake for Thanksgiving. Thanks for a great recipe.

  17. This cake looks amazing! I bought all the ingredients that i didn’t have on hand this morning and plan on making it later today. It also gives me a chance to use my 6 inch cake pans that I purchased on sale a year ago and have never used! Thank you so much for posting , Zoe!

  18. I have not tried baking with kamut flour but would love to try this recipe. I have my own grinder and I am excited to give it a try. It looks wonderful.

  19. Cooking is my passion. I am so intrigued in try flavor cominations from the very basic elements of cooking, such as grains. Earthy twist and complexity from simplicity. Thank you. Hope the give away is still on! Love Maria work and how she mixes her german and greek hwritage as well!

  20. Am I still in time for the giveaway?
    Are dried sour cherries also suitable for this recipe, or is it going to be too sour? Thanks!

  21. Cake with grains!!!! Great idea! An excuse to bake & eat more cake. This is gorgeous…cherries sound divine right now. I’d love to learn to bake with more whole grains. For health and because I think they add more flavor!

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