Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cherries Cake


While on vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico, the resort made this amazing chocolate cake that we all loved.  At first it appeared to be a standard chocolate cake with buttercream filling.  But then.... then there was that certain "something" in the background.  It was the taste of cherries with the chocolate. - Chocolate Covered Cherries!  Yes! So of course this cake has been on my mind since then to attempt to recreate that taste. 
The cherry flavored liquor that came to my mind as a flavoring was Kirsch* (Kirchwasser). *(see Food Nerd Notes at bottom.)
                      Click for Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake
Ingredients as called for on box for the cake
Plus 1 tsp vanilla
Plus 1 Tbsp kirsch
1 can of cherry pie filling
4 jumbo packs of Kit Kat chocolate bars
mint leaves for garnish

The Cherry Simple Syrup
1 cup Kirsch
½ cup sugar
Add liquor to sugar.  Bring to a boil and boil over moderate heat for 5 minutes (to evaporate a lot of that alcohol off).  Allow to cool completely.

The Chocolate Cherry Buttercream Filling
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp strong coffee
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp kirsch
Pinch of salt
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp meringue powder

The Ganache
1 cup heavy whipping cream
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips


Step-by-Step
First, start with the Kirsch syrup.  Personally, 90 proof is just WAY too much alcohol for me, as I only wanted the flavor... not to have my toddlers walking around tipsy!  So I made a simple syrup of the Kirsch and sugar and boiled it for 5 minutes to boil a majority of the alcohol off.



 Stir until sugar completely dissolves.
Allow it to cool completely.

Make cake mix as directed on package, adding additional vanilla and Kirsch.  The vanilla should be the best you can find.  I use Mexican vanilla, as it has a great flavor!


For the life of me, I can't get this photo to stay straight.  ...and I have NOT been drinking the Kirsch!
One tip I have for the cake, is to bring your eggs to room temperature before mixing them into the cake mix.  This gives you a fluffier cake.  Somehow, I can never remember this ahead of time, though, so I usually just cheat by putting them in warm water for several minutes.
Bake as directed (325 degrees F for 33 minutes in my case, for 2 8-inch pans.)

Now, while the cake is in the oven, lets move on to the buttercream.  Your butter should be softened, but not melted. 1/2 cup total... that's 8 Tbsp (I only mixed in 4 at a time).

Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.
Add in a pinch of salt.  I did not measure this.  I literally pinched it.
Add the confectioner's sugar in small bits at a time on LOW speed (or else it will be all over your kitchen).
After adding half of the sugar, I added the cold, heavy whipping cream.  Then add the remainder of the sugar.
To avoid having a "flat" taste, I added an additional teaspoon of Mexican vanilla to the buttercream as well... We're trying to mirror the major flavors of each component.
...and add 2 Tbsp of strong, cold brewed coffee.  It will not taste like coffee; but brings out the chocolate flavor better.
Next, 1 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Believe me, the cake will be PLENTY sweet!
After it's all nice and fluffy... have someone taste test it for you.
Apparently, it passed muster!  So pop it into the fridge now.  You want the butter to stay cold.


Now back to the cake, which we have allowed to cool on wire cooling racks.

Paint some of the Kirsch simple syrup onto the cake tops.  I painted it pretty thick.  This will soak into the cake and keep it really moist.. as well as adding the cherry flavoring to the cake.  Then put the cakes into the freezer to firm up for a while.
When the cakes are nice and firm, cut them in half.
Take about half of the can of cherries, and split them in half.  We will use the "gel" stuff as well at this point.
To the bottom half of the bottom layer, add a crumb coat of the buttercream filling.

Add the top of the bottom half...
And to this, add the split cherries and cherry "sauce" (what DO you call this stuff?)  This goopy stuff will soak into the cake, too.... so moist!
Repeat with the top layer.
Finally, add the remainder of the buttercream to the top.  Now go and put the whole thing back into the freezer.

Now onto the ganache...
Add the heavy whipping cream to a saucepan.  Bring it just up to a boil... not even.  Just to the point where it's considering a boil.  Then reduce to low.
To the scalded cream, add in the semisweet chocolate chips.
Stir or whisk over low heat until the chocolate is smooth and dissolved.
It will get smooth and glossy.  Then remove from the heat.
Go get the cake out of the freezer.  Set the cooling rack over a sheet pan.  You will need something to catch the drips!!!

Starting in the middle of the cake, pour the warm ganache in a smooth stream, allowing it to flow over the edges of the cake.
It really looks like a mess, doesn't it?  That's okay... Now go and put it all back in the freezer again.  If you are wondering about all the freezer time, it's because I was so paranoid that the ganache would melt the buttercream and the whole cake would start sliding off.  I would rather cool in between each step than to have that happen and have wasted an afternoon of dirty dishes and quiet nap time!
So, after the ganache is "set," but still sticky, I took it out and began arranging the Kit-Kats (in pairs) around the cake.  These are much less expensive (and more fun) than those fancy (high priced) chocolate "sticks" that some web sites sell.  And you may as well have some fun with this!  Now who doesn't love Kit-Kats?!
Okay, it still doesn't look like much, but at this point, you have earned the right to do the fun stuff!!
  • Tie a pretty red ribbon around the Kit Kats...
  • Drain the remaining half of the can of cherries and rinse them in cold water.  Arrange them around the perimeter of the cake, and a few in the center.
  • Shave part of a block of white chocolate over the center... (this is so simple with just a standard vegetable peeler.)
  • and Voila!  It suddenly becomes a piece of art!
  • oh.. and don't forget the mint leaves!
So now.... what do you think?

I have to admit, I was pretty sick of smelling chocolate by the time I was finished, but that is just me.  Working with sweets is a pretty powerful appetite suppressant for me.  But after dinner, we did cut it.  Man, oh man!  Was this ever rich, moist, and delicious!

Method:
First, start with the Kirsch syrup.  Personally, 90 proof is just WAY too much alcohol for me, as I only wanted the flavor... not to have my toddlers walking around tipsy!  So I made a simple syrup of the Kirsch and sugar and boiled it for 5 minutes to boil a majority of the alcohol off.  Stir until sugar completely dissolves. Allow it to cool completely.

Make cake mix as directed on package, adding additional vanilla and Kirsch.  The vanilla should be the best you can find.  I use Mexican vanilla, as it has a great flavor!  One tip I have for the cake, is to bring your eggs to room temperature before mixing them into the cake mix.  This gives you a fluffier cake.  Somehow, I can never remember this ahead of time, though, so I usually just cheat by putting them in warm water for several minutes. Bake as directed (325 degrees F for 33 minutes in my case, for 2 8-inch pans.)

Lets move on to the buttercream.  Your butter should be softened, but not melted. 1/2 cup total... that's 8 Tbsp (I only mixed in 4 at a time). Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add in a pinch of salt.  I did not measure this.  I literally pinched it. Add the confectioner's sugar in small bits at a time on LOW speed (or else it will be all over your kitchen).  After adding half of the sugar, I added the cold, heavy whipping cream.  Then add the remainder of the sugar. To avoid having a "flat" taste, I added an additional teaspoon of Mexican vanilla to the buttercream as well... We're trying to mirror the major flavors of each component.  Add 2 Tbsp of strong, cold brewed coffee.  It will not taste like coffee; but brings out the chocolate flavor better. Next, 1 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Believe me, the cake will be PLENTY sweet!  After it's all nice and fluffy. So pop it into the fridge now.  You want the butter to stay cold.

Now back to the cake, which we have allowed to cool on wire cooling racks. Paint some of the Kirsch simple syrup onto the cake tops.  I painted it pretty thick.  This will soak into the cake and keep it really moist.. as well as adding the cherry flavoring to the cake.  Then put the cakes into the freezer to firm up for a while. When the cakes are nice and firm, cut them in half. Take about half of the can of cherries, and split them in half.  We will use the "gel" stuff as well at this point. To the bottom half of the bottom layer, add a crumb coat of the buttercream filling.  Add the top of the bottom half...And to this, add the split cherries and cherry "sauce" (what DO you call this stuff?)  This goopy stuff will soak into the cake, too.... so moist! Repeat with the top layer. Finally, add the remainder of the buttercream to the top.  Now go and put the whole thing back into the freezer.

Now onto the ganache...  Add the heavy whipping cream to a saucepan.  Bring it just up to a boil... not even.  Just to the point where it's considering a boil.  Then reduce to low.  To the scalded cream, add in the semisweet chocolate chips. Stir or whisk over low heat until the chocolate is smooth and dissolved.  It will get smooth and glossy.  Then remove from the heat.

Go get the cake out of the freezer.  Set the cooling rack over a sheet pan.  You will need something to catch the drips!!! Starting in the middle of the cake, pour the warm ganache in a smooth stream, allowing it to flow over the edges of the cake.  It really looks like a mess, doesn't it?  That's okay... Now go and put it all back in the freezer again.  If you are wondering about all the freezer time, it's because I was so paranoid that the ganache would melt the buttercream and the whole cake would start sliding off.  I would rather cool in between each step than to have that happen and have wasted an afternoon of dirty dishes and quiet nap time!

So, after the ganache is "set," but still sticky, I took it out and began arranging the Kit-Kats (in pairs) around the cake.  These are much less expensive (and more fun) than those fancy (high priced) chocolate "sticks" that some web sites sell.  And you may as well have some fun with this!
  • Tie a pretty red ribbon around the Kit Kats...
  • Drain the remaining half of the can of cherries and rinse them in cold water.  Arrange them around the perimeter of the cake, and a few in the center.
  • Shave part of a block of white chocolate over the center... (this is so simple with just a standard vegetable peeler.)
  • and Voila!  It suddenly becomes a piece of art!
  • oh.. and don't forget the mint leaves!

Food Nerd Notes:
Kirsch (Kirschwasser) (keersh-vahs-ər), German for “cherry water” is a clear, colorless cherry flavored fruit brandy traditionally made from double distillation of morello cherries, a dark-colored cultivar of the sour cherry.  It is now also made from other kinds of cherries. The cherries are fermented complete, including their stones. Unlike cherry liqueurs and so-called “cherry brandies,” Kirschwasser is not sweet.  The best Kirschwassers have a refined taste with subtle flavors of cherry and a slight bitter-almond taste that derives from the stones.  It is not to be confused with crème de kirsch, a sweet cherry liqueur. 

Because morellos were originally grown in the Black Forest region of southern Germany, Kirschwasser is believed to have originated there.  Kirschwasser is colourless because it is either not aged in wood or is aged in barrels made of ash. It may have been aged in paraffin-lined wood barrels or in earthenware vessels.

Clear fruit brandies made from distilled, fermented fruit are very popular in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France. In France and in English-speaking countries, these beverages are known as eaux de vie.  The European Union sets a minimum of 37.5% ABV (75 proof) for products of this kind; Kirschwasser typically has an alcohol content of 40%–50% ABV (80–100 proof). About 22 pounds of cherries go into the making of one 750 ml bottle of Kirschwasser!  No wonder it's pricey!

4 comments:

  1. just beautiful! Love the chocolate bars as borders! Everyone would just love it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks delicious! Your little daughter is a cutie! I'm so happy to find your blog. I love the pictures and sooooooooooo appreciate the consolidated directions and nerd notes! : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Barbara. Very glad you stumbled upon my blog... hope you will come back again!
      Julie

      Delete
  3. This is good so awesome, I wish to eat at least a similar kind of this :) how creative you , congratulations :)

    ReplyDelete

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