Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The true test

Have you ever tried to make someone else's recipe? Inevitably, it is never as good as when the original person made it. There is a solution to that problem. It's almost too easy. Make someone else's recipe you've never tasted!! (I told you it was easy) We just completed a recipe exchange on the What's Cooking Board.

Ordinarily a recipe exchange would require you to send someone a food product you made with the recipe included. However, this could be very dangerous when you're sending food to people you don't know. What's to stop me from putting a little arsenic into that apple pie? Or including rat poop in the chocolate chip cookies? Ah, but the WC girls are too wise for these tricks. Perhaps its because the board is chock full of evil geniuses like myself, they have devised a solution to this problem. It's almost too easy. Don't send food. Instead we just submitted our favorite dessert recipes to Katie who distributed them electronically.

I was very excited to receive my recipe for Christmas Chocolate Cherry Cake. Chocolate and cherry is my favorite chocolate fruit combination. I love whipped cream frosting. Then I began to shop for ingredients. It is quite clear that whoever loves this recipe does not live in Orange County, California. First of all, cans of pitted dark sweet cherries in light syrup do not exist in my local supermarkets or specialty stores. Cans of cherries in heavy syrup leered at me as I made my way down the canned fruit aisle. Jars of cherries with pits in light syrup gave me the finger. Then I went searching for kirsch. Stupid kirsch. Luckily I'm enough of an alcoholic to know it's cherry brandy. Unluckily I had thrown out my bottle when we moved in August. Even more unluckily none of the stores carried it. When I asked cashiers for help they looked at me as though cherry brandy existed only in my head. Finally I was able to find a single bottle in a store, hidden behind peach and apricot brandy. Mission accomplished.

For the most part I stuck to the recipe completely. The changes I made were very minor and I'll note them in italics. The cake itself was heavenly. Not too heavy, not too rich (I attribute this to the amazing whipped cream frosting - never sticky and heavy like buttercream). The cherry flavor in the chocolate cake was subtle, and yet toned down the chocolatiness of the cake itself. I actually ate a whole piece of cake! I won't even begin to tell you how many pieces Jon ate.........

Christmas Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 18.5 oz. package devil's food cake mix
1 16 oz. can pitted dark sweet cherries in light syrup (ummm...yeah...I ended up using a jar of morello cherries from TJs. I had to pit a bunch of them, even though they were semi-pitted. I used a little more than half a jar.......)
kirsch (cherry brandy)
4 squares semisweet chocolate (I actually just bought a big block of chocolate...who knows how many squares)
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Maraschino cherries for garnish (Because I had leftover morello cherries, I used these instead)
Early in Day:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 10" by 3" springform pan. Prepare cake mix as label directs: pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake 45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; then careully remove side of pan; cool cake completely on wire rack.
2. Meanwhile, drain cherries and research 2 tablespoons syrup; cut each cherry in half. In medium bowl, stire reserved syrup, cherries and 3 tablespoons kirsch; set aside. (Basically I just combined 2 Tbsp syrup, cherries, and 3 Tbsp kirsch)
3. From chocolate squares, with vegetable peeler, shave some chocolate curls for garnish. Coarsely grate remaining chocolate to decorate side of cake. (I just kinda went crazy here. I probably had too much grated chocolate, but since most of it ended up on the counter I say no harm, no foul)
4. When cake is cool, with serrated knife, carefully cut cake horizontally into 2 layers. (If you like, remove bottom of pan.) Place one cake layer on plate. With fork, prick top of cake layers; spoon all liquid from cherry mixture in bowl over layers.
5. In small bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy or whipping cream, sugar, and 1 tablespoon kirsch until soft peaks form. Spread cake layer on plate with 1 1/2 cups whipped cream. Spoon cherries onto cream; top with remaining cake layer. Frost side and top of cake with about 2 cups whipped cream. With hand, gently press grated chocolate onto side of cake. Spoon remaining whipped cream into decorating bag with medium rosette tube; pipe border around top of cake. (Confession - I forgot to read this part until I was frosting the cake, and I didn't feel like looking for my pastry tips so I skipped it completely) Garnish top of cake with Maraschino cherries and chocolate curls. (Again, I used the morello cherries) Keep cake refrigerated. Makes 24 servings.


  1. looks like the black forrest cake my mil gets for birthdays from hof's hut (however, it has strawberries instead of cherries). if the taste is at all similar, then that is one rockin' cake!