I’m not calling this a Black Forest Cake; nope; it’s my own doing and not a recreation of a well known cake. A rich chocolate cake and an equally rich Mascarpone buttercream are highlighted with a compote of fresh cherries. Not surprisingly, this Chocolate Cherry Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting is my new favorite!
If you’ve followed this blog for any time, than you know that once a month I participate with some virtual friends in a Progressive Party called Progressive Eats. This month is our Five Year Anniversary…hard to imagine for all of us I’m sure but we were up to the task and have a lineup of deliciousness for you this month with an Elegant Summer Evening Soirée. Yours truly is the host this month and I wanted something a bit grander than a barbecue with a dessert to match. I think this Chocolate Cherry Cake with Mascarpone Frosting fit that bill perfectly!
I love making cakes…but that being said, I seldom do many anymore. Not because I can’t find willing eaters but because I seem to make them complicated enough they are a full day job. As much fun as that is, I struggle finding the time. So I went into this with a game plan.
Chocolate cake I know and love? Check. Simple frosting combining mascarpone cheese and buttercream frosting? Check. Fresh cherries? Check. But uh oh…damn the ones I had planned to use were past their prime so first snafu required a trip to the grocery store.
Still not that big of a deal. Then I realized I was also out of my favorite cherry jam but of course not before that trip to the market so I had to punt. OK, OK, I can whip something together pretty quick I guess so I still wasn’t deterred and I had all weekend to get it done and I would get on it first thing Saturday for sure.
Except…my friend Amy from across the street asked me if I wanted to join her and her mom at a local production of ‘The Full Monty’ on Saturday afternoon. I almost reneged but thought, ‘No…I deserve a break today!’ so went with them and am so glad I did; we laughed so hard it hurt!
Sunday had it’s share of unexpected but still, I got the cake layers made and in the freezer…so check and check. I was feeling pretty good about that, heck it meant all Monday to simply frost and put together the cake, take photos and write the post. Easy Peasy. Not exactly. That’s a full day job under the best of circumstances!
Ever had one of those days? The phone ringing off the hook, the constant doorbell interruptions, the missing ingredients…I won’t deny I was a bit stressed but I stayed on track and was good to go; if getting just a bit verklempt. Then I get a reminder that I have a meeting here at my house at 6:30pm!
I was ‘this close’ to letting my pals know I couldn’t do it but somehow I got it done. The cake was finished, the photos taken and the meeting was held. I plied the committee members with cake in hopes they would ignore my disaster of a kitchen on full display. I think I blinded them with this beauty though and no one complained…I did let them eat cake!
Was it worth it? I have to admit, this is one fine cake. Chocolate and Cherry are so compatible and the smooth richness of the mascarpone cheese kicked it up a notch. I love using mascarpone cheese in a frosting; it adds both a richness and depth of flavor without really making the frosting taste like cheese. I also think buttercream can be too sweet; blending it with mascarpone with that bit of tang makes it perfect. Some consider cream cheese a substitute and it can be used; but find the mascarpone if you can; it is heavenly.
The fresh cherries made it. Despite wanting to make it easier with jam, I loved the results from combining the two…it’s not difficult and so worth it. And the hint of both Amaretto and Cherry Heering was just enough. If you have to choose one or the other…use Amaretto in all three steps; not everyone has a bottle of cherry liqueur on hand like I do!
Need some ideas for the perfect party? Please join our celebration and I’ll save you a slice!
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is all about an elegant summer evening celebration, and I’m your host this month (basically means I get to choose the event!). This event celebrates five years of bringing together great cooks, concepts, and especially great food through the collaboration of Progressive Eats.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the deliciousness we’ve put together for our celebration inspired dishes!
For the Cake
- 2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups golden brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water (See Notes)
- 12 oz fresh cherries with stems, not pitted (optional)
For the Boozy Sweet Cherry Preserves
- 1 cup of washed pitted and chopped sweet Bing or Rainier cherries
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup of white sugar
- 8-12 oz jar of cherry jam
- 2 Tbsp Amaretto or Cherry Heering
For the Mascarpone Buttercream
- 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 4 3/4 - 5 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tbsp Amaretto
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Milk or half and half as needed
Prepare the Cake Layers
- Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray or spread with butter.
- Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.
- Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.
- Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment. Place wire rack atop each cake, invert again so top side is up.
- Cool completely.
To Make the Boozy Cherry Preserves
- Combine the cherries with the lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Over medium heat, cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; the back of the spoon should be coated. If still too liquid, continue to cook over medium heat until a bit thicker.
- Add the cherry preserves and the Amaretto or Cherry Heering and cook on medium for another minute. Cool in fridge.
To Make the Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and fluffy. Add mascarpone and mix to thoroughly incorporate.
- Add confectioner's sugar a cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Then add the amaretto and salt and mix until smooth. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
- If buttercream seems too thick, add 1 tablespoon of milk or half and half at a time until the desired consistency.
To Assemble the Cake
- Brush crumbs from cakes. Place one cake layer, top side up, on platter. Spoon 1 3/4 cups frosting on top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges.
- Spread half of the cherry jam on top of the frosting; allowing about an inch of frosting on the outside edge.
- Top with second layer, top side up. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake; use a straight edge knife or pastry tool to evenly remove frosting and let layers show through.
- Spread more frosting on top of cake. Top with remaining cherry jam (I used a bit less than all of it to keep it from drizzling down the sides but that might be pretty too).
- Top with fresh cherries with stems if desired.
- . Chill 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
I use Medaglia D'oro Instant Espresso Powder; available online and at some grocery stores.