Chocolate Cake with Cherry Filling and Chocolate Frosting

think chocolate cake and cherries – and the first image that probably springs to mind is a black forest cake. and that was what i had actually set out to make. using a time-tested recipe for chocolate cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking (which i had mentioned once before in my Chocolate Cupcakes post) i breezed through baking the cake layers and preparing the soaking syrup. things were going well and i was quite happy. i assembled the basic cake with store-bought cherry pie filling and went on to prepare the whipped cream topping to frost the cake. and that was when disaster struck (Murphy’s ghost just had to step in!). i used whipping cream with 35% milk fat, but it refused to form soft peaks as it was supposed to (and this was despite chilling my bowl and beaters before-hand). i could only watch helplessly as it remained a thick white puddle. chilling it for some more time before trying again made no difference. (i think the heat and humidity in my kitchen could have been the problem factor, but i am sure there must be a way to work through such problems in this side of the world, right? if you have any suggestions for this, please do share them with me.)

i was very disappointed, but past disasters seem to have toughened me up – there were no tears or curses. i just shrugged, wrapped the cake in foil and put it in the freezer and went on to wash up. although my drean of making a black forest cake did not get fulfilled, i was hopeful that i might be able to salvage the cake and make something of it. (after all the effort i had put into it, i didn’t want to waste the cake as well.) after thinking for a bit, i decided to go with a chocolate frosting (the chocoholic in me just had to go with the chocolate option!). a quick search online yielded a good “fudgy frosting” recipe that i adapted slightly – and my cake was given a new lease of life 🙂

i slathered on the chocolate frosting and while i was at it, added some dragees as decorations. honestly i was still a bit unsure if the chocolate-cherry combination might work as well as a black forest cake, but when i took a bite of the cake, i was totally floored by the taste. the sweetness of the chocolate perfectly complemented the slightly tart taste of the cherry pie filling, while the soaking syrup had added some subtle hint of cherry flavour to the cake – making it a delightful combination that is sure to become a hit with cake-lovers (like me) and chocoholics (like me again) 🙂

and the best part of all? the fact that a near flop had just turned out into something better than i had expected – which reminded me of a quote by Richard Bach: “there’s no disaster that can’t become a blessing…” (yep, i do indulge in some philosophy at my kitchen-counter on occassion.) so the next time you end up with what seems like a dead-end, don’t give up right away. with some help from google, you may just end up with a masterpiece that is even better than what you had originally planned to create 🙂

I am sending this in to the weekly Bake-Off event at Champa’s Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen. Check out the weekly round-ups for loads of yummy baked goodies 🙂

*Photography by Saraswathi Raja Krishnan

Chocolate Cake (*Note: this is for one cake layer)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose/plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp rum flavouring essence
1/3 cup canola/sunflower oil
1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
1 cup cold water (*Note: the water has to be really cold – throw in some ice-cubes to keep the water cold – but measure out only the liquid)

1 can Cherry pie filling in heavy syrup (*keep the cherries in a bit of syrup until ready to use)
1/4 cup Whipping cream sweetened to taste (*Note: this is optional – you could stick to using the frosting as well)

Soaking Syrup:
1/2 cup Syrup from the Cherry pie filling
3 – 4 tbsp Caster sugar (use according to taste)
1 tsp Rum flavouring essence

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

Making the cake, soaking syrup and frosting:
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Lightly grease an 8-inch round pan or line it with foil. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt  and cocoa powder into a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the rum flavouring, vinegar, oil and water. Mix until the ingredients are just combined (dont keep over-beat the batter). Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 20-30 mins until done (*to test done-ness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake – if it emerges clean, the cake is ready to be taken out). Take out, let it sit for a while and then invert onto wire rack and remove the foil. Bake two cakes and let them cool.

To prep the soaking syrup, combine the cherry syrup and sugar and mix well. Keep on low heat in the microwave for about 10 – 15 seconds and then mix well again – there should no sugar granules remaining. Once it has cooled to room temperature, mix in the rum flavouring essence.

To make the frosting, place all the ingredients except the vanilla essence in a saucepan and put on medium heat, while stirring constantly. When bubbles start to appear at the edges of the pan, take the pan off heat. Continue to stir to ensure that the frosting doesn’t burn or stick to the pan. When it has started to cool (it will also start to thicken slowly) stir in the vanilla essence. Use it when it is still warm. (*Note: You can store excess frosting in the fridge. Once the frosting cools, it will be thick and have a granulated texture. If you want to use it as frosting or as a pouring sauce, put it on low heat while stirring constantly – this will restore it to its former consistency.)

Assembling the cake:
Level your cakes to remove any bumps or uneven surfaces. Place your cakes side-by-side, such that the layer that will go on the bottom is facing the right side up and the top layer is placed  up-side down. Basically, when you sprinkle on the soaking syrup, you want to ensure that it is used on the sides of the cake that will sandwiched together. Poke some small holes on the surface on the cake using a toothpick or fork and then sprinkle or spoon some syrup on the surface. (*Note: Do not over-soak the cake – this will cause the cakes to soften too much and fall apart when you are handling them.) 

Drain the cherry pie filling completely and keep aside. Spread some of the sweetened whipping cream/frosting on the bottom layer and then arrange the cherries on top. Place the top layer (with the soaked side facing the cherries) and then press down gently.

Pour the chocolate frosting on the cake by spoonfuls and then spread it evenly with a spatula. One other way to do it evenly is to place your cake on a wire-rack, then place the rack on top of a plate and then dribble the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. This will ensure that the cake is evenly covered without having to spread it around manually – but this can get messy as well. Once the cake is frosted, keep it in the fridge for about half-an-hour to allow the frosting to set – this will be make it easier to work with if you can plan to do any additional decoration. This frosting won’t harden completely like buttercream frosting, so even if it has been chilled, be wary of smudges when adding any decorations.




  1. Lovely presentation. Thanks for the entry. I’ll include it in next week’s Bake-Off.

    1. Thank you Champa 🙂 Love your Bake-off event, btw 🙂

  2. Love it! Beautiful cake!

    1. Thank you 🙂

  3. Saraswathi R.K · · Reply

    From someone who had the good fortune to taste the cake (thanks to my camera :P)- delicious! 😀

    1. Thanks Saras 🙂 It was a small way of saying a big thank you for taking such wonderful photos 🙂 (please say a spl thanks to your camera as well!)

  4. Heavenlyyyy!!! Fedex it to me …i want!!!

    1. next time we meet, i’ll bake it for ya 🙂

  5. I would like to know where to buy Cherry Pie Filling from,co i would like to make Chocolate Cake with Cherry Pie Filling

  6. […] 1 can Cherry pie filling in heavy syrup (*keep the cherries in a bit of syrup until ready … 1/2 cup Syrup from the Cherry pie filling 3 – 4 tbsp Caster sugar… Read in full […]

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