The Fresh Loaf

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Chocolate Sour Cherry Cake

Benito's picture

Chocolate Sour Cherry Cake

I love sour cherries and I love chocolate, so when I came across this cake recipe I knew I had to make it.

For a 13x9-inch metal baking pan

Active Time

45 minutes

Total Time

4 hours

This chocolate cherry cake recipe delivers the flavors of Black Forest cakebut requires a fraction of the commitment. There’s no days-long prep time or (let’s be honest) fussy icing, and you can use either your fresh summer cherry haul or that stash of frozen cherries you’ve had your eye on. Just promise us one thing: You’ll use sour or tart cherries, not sweet, as their tang will offset the rich chocolaty crumb. And by all means, avoid canned cherries, Technicolor maraschino cherries, and packaged cherry pie filling, all of which may contain sweeteners that could make the cake cloying.

To start you’ll toss those cherries with sugar and almond extract, then set them aside at room temperature until their juices form a flavorful syrup. You’ll only need ½ cup of this syrup for the cake batter, but save any extra to add to seltzer or use in cocktails.

For the chocolate, spring for good-quality cocoa powder since it’s the main flavoring in the cake batter. Pouring hot water over the cocoa may seem strange, but this action blooms the powder, unlocking its bold chocolate flavor. For the mix-ins, use chopped dark chocolate (bittersweet or semisweet) if you prefer it over chocolate chips.

To serve, simply dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar. Or if you want to get a little extra, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream along with chocolate fudge sauce and a dollop of whipped cream to each slice. For birthday cake vibes, decorate with swoops of cream cheese–chocolate frosting or a chocolate ganache glaze.



12 servings

1 lb. fresh or frozen (not thawed) pitted sour cherries (about 3 cups)

⅔ cup (134 g) granulated sugar

1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup boiling water

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups (240-250 g) all-purpose flour

1¼ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1¼ cups (250 g) packed dark brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup (7 oz.) semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Powdered sugar and whipped cream to garnish (optional)



Step 1
Toss 1 lb. fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries (about 3 cups) with ⅔ cup (134 g) sugar and 1 tsp. almond extract in a small mixing bowl and let stand at least 2 hours. Drain cherries, reserving ½ cup cherry juices.
Step 2
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 13x9-inch metal baking pan, knocking out excess flour. Whisk together 1 cup boiling water and ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) in a small bowl until smooth, then whisk in reserved cherry juices and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
Step 3
Whisk 2 cups (25 g) all-purpose flour, 1¼ tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt in another small bowl.
Step 4
Beat 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened with 1¼ cups (250 g) packed dark brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 4 large eggs, one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing at low speed until blended (batter may look curdled).
Step 5
Pour batter into pan, smoothing top, and scatter the reserved cherries and 1 cup (7 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips evenly over the batter (they’ll sink as it bakes). Bake in middle of oven until a toothpick or tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, then cut into squares. If using, dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.
Do ahead: The chocolate-covered cherry flavor of this cake becomes more pronounced after a day or two. Cake can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. 


This cake took 48 mins to be fully baked in the center reaching 205°F.  Although the recipe said that the cherries and chocolate chips would fall into the batter as the cake baked, that wasn’t my experience.  When I make this again I will press them into the batter a bit.


Everyone who had this cake loved it.  It is very decadent and very chocolately.  The cake did improve over the 3 days and was even better on day 3.  Make sure you use sour cherries as sweet cherries would just be too sweet for this cake.  I used dark chocolate chips and I think milk chocolate chips would be far too sweet.  I will definitely make this again, the combination of the sour cherries and chocolate are just wonderful.


Make sure your cocoa powder isn’t alkalinized (Dutch Process) as the acidity of the cocoa is needed in order to leaven the batter when it reacts with the baking soda.

My index of bakes.


Kjknits's picture

Yum! That looks amazing! Chocolate and cherries are made for each other. 

Benito's picture

Yes I agree chocolate and cherries marry so well together.


CalBeachBaker's picture

Benny - some of my all-time favorite flavors. Definitely in the queue and thanks for sharing.


Benito's picture

One of my all time favorite combinations.


Isand66's picture

My 2 favorite flavors as well.  This would go perfect with a scoop of ice cream 😉

Benito's picture

Yes I had ice cream to offer our guests, but everyone seems to be on diets lately.


Isand66's picture

Yes, I’m sure a scoop of ice cream would be too many calories to go with your Weight Watchers cake 😂😉