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Chocolate Cherry Cake with Marsala Cream

This chocolate cherry cake features a cream made with marsala wine and tart cherries. The combination is perfect with the rich chocolate cake and the result is a decadent and balanced dessert.
Author: Stephani from The ZoeBakes Team


Chocolate Cherry Cake

  • 1/2 cup (65g) finely chopped dried cherries
  • 2 tbsp Marsala wine or apple juice
  • 1 cup (130g) whole grain Kamut flour*
  • 1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract Homemade Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (75g) 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 tbsp sugar



  • Heat oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle. 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.
  • In a small bowl let the cherries and Marsala wine sit 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. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and use a spatula to level the batter.

Baking Times

  • 9x5-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 over bake 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.

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.


  • 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.


*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.