Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake

Chocolate covered cherry cake

I’ve told the story in the past of how, when we were 23, David came into the ice cream parlor where I worked and ordered chocolate and cherry ice cream. Since that time, the poor fellow has been fed some combination of chocolate and cherries for every single birthday, valentine’s day, anniversary, back-to-school-night, groundhog day… Yesterday was no exception. But as I was thinking about it, maybe it’s sort of a metaphor for marriage. (Hold tight, folks, and fasten your seat belts, it’s an extended metaphor!!) You’ve got your basic ingredients. You know you love them, more than any other flavor ever, and part of the reason that you love them so much is because they work so well together. And the ways that they can be combined is endless and as surprising as you make it. Because each individual flavor is distinctive and variable – bitter, sweet, soft, melting, warm, cool – and when they come together to form a whole, it’s their contrasts as much as their similarities that make them so pleasing. I owe David so much, over all the years since we were 23; he’s made me more happy, more human and more sane. He’s taught me so much about art and music. He has such a beautiful and unique way of looking at the world – really looking – he sees shapes and colors and patterns and beautiful things that I would pass by obliviously. I feel so lucky to have him with me to puzzle through life. And year after year my way to thank him for all this is a combination of flavors that are good on their own, but work wonderfully together.

This cake, for his birthday yesterday, was supposed to call to mind a chocolate covered, rum-soaked cherry. It has layers of rum-cherry-chocolate chip cake interspersed with layers of cherry preserves and rummy chocolate mousse. And the whole thing is topped with bittersweet chocolate ganache. For some reason, although the cake batter was pinkish (because it had cherry jam in it) it took on a greenish tint upon being baked. Possibly because I have aluminum pans? It was a comical surprise that we took in stride, and carried on valiantly eating large pieces of cake.

Here’s a 23-year-old Johnny Cash singing I Walk the Line. I wonder what kind of ice cream he liked?


MOUSSE

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rum
1 t vanilla
1 T flour
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a small bowl beat the eggs, sugar, rum, vanilla, flour and salt until lemon-yellow and creamy. Meanwhile, warm the milk and chocolate chips in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. When the milk is just beginning to bubble on the edges, and the chocolate is fairly well melted, pour it in a thin stream into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time. Return the mixture to the pan and to the heat, continually whisking. It should become quite thick after about 5 minutes. Thick enough to coat a spoon – like a thin pudding or a very thick custard. Pour into a cool bowl, whisk to let off some heat, and then refrigerate until completely cool. Whip the cream until stiff and fold into the chocolate mixture.

CAKE

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 T rum
1/2 cup cherry preserves (I used bonne maman)
3 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375. Butter and flour two cake pans.

In a large bowl, beat the butter till soft and creamy. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla, and continue to beat until the whole thing is light yellow and very fluffy. Stir in the rum and the cherry jam. Beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. When it’s well mixed, beat in the chocolate chips.

Bake for about half an hour, till it’s brown on top and springs back when you lightly press it.

Cool completely.

TO ASSEMBLE

1 cup cherry jam
1 cup chocolate chips
2 T butter

Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over a larger saucepan filled with boiling water. Be careful not to let any water get into the chocolate, or it will seize up. Stir well, and heat till it’s silky and smooth.

Cut each cake into two horizontal pieces. Put one bottom piece on a cake plate. Spread a few tablespoons of cherry jam on it, and top with 1/3 of the chocolate mousse. Put the top piece of that cake on top. Carefully spread that with a few tablespoonfuls of cherry jam and another third of mousse. Put the bottom piece from the other cake on top of that, and spread with jam and the rest of the mousse. Spoon the warm chocolate over the top, letting it drip down the sides.

Chill till the chocolate and mousse are set.

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