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Cherry Coke Cake

Chocolate and cherries are a magical combination. Here, we amp up the cherry flavor by using cherry cola in the cake batter.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 50 min (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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Ingredients

Cake:

Nonstick cooking spray, for the cake pan

One 15.25-ounce box devil's food cake mix, such as Duncan Hines 

One 3.9-ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix 

4 large egg whites 

3/4 cup cherry cola, such as Cherry Coke ® 

1/2 cup vegetable oil 

1/2 cups finely chopped maraschino cherries  

Frosting:

5 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

6 sticks (1 1/2 pounds) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

5 tablespoons maraschino cherry liquid plus 1 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries 

Ganache:

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream 

1 1/2 cups whole maraschino cherries with stems 

Directions

  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, then line with parchment and spray the parchment.
  2. Combine the cake mix and pudding mix in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed to blend. With the mixer still running, add the egg whites, cherry cola and vegetable oil and mix until combined. Raise the speed to medium and mix until increased in volume, lighter in color and smooth, about 5 minutes. Fold in the maraschino cherries. Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans; smooth into even layers using an offset spatula. 
  3. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool in the pans, about 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks and let cool completely, about 1 hour.?? 
  4. For the frosting: Mix the confectioners' sugar, butter and salt together in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low speed until well blended, then increase the speed to high and whip until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the maraschino cherry liquid and continue to whip until bright pink and spreadable. Add the chopped cherries and mix on low speed until evenly distributed.  
  5. Using a serrated knife and sawing in long, even strokes, carefully halve the cake layers horizontally. Place 1 layer, cut-side up, on a platter or cake stand; spread 1 1/2 cups frosting on top. Stack another cake layer on top and spread another 1 1/2 cups frosting on top. Repeat with the remaining 2 cake layers, then cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (this is the crumb coat) and use a bench scraper or large offset spatula to smooth out the sides and top (it's okay if some cake shows through). Refrigerate 15 minutes, then add another 1/2-inch layer of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth out to make a perfectly flat top. Refrigerate until ready to cover with ganache. 
  6. For the ganache: Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until beginning to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is completely smooth and the chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes, then pour over the chilled cake so that the top is completely coated and chocolate drips decoratively down the sides. Let set at room temperature 30 minutes, then top with the whole cherries in the center of the cake and serve.