Chocolate Cherry Candy Cake

Cordials of chocolate-covered cherries, a classic "box of chocolates" staple, inspired this delicate cake, filled with a candied cherry mousse and covered in rich chocolate ganache.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 5 hr 40 min (includes cooling and chilling time)
  • Active: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings
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Chocolate Cake:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for the pan

1 cup all-purpose flour (see Cook's Note), plus more for the pan

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cherry Mousse Filling:

1/4 cup well-drained good-quality cherries in syrup, such as Amarena or Luxardo, plus 2 tablespoons syrup

One 1/4-ounce packet unflavored gelatin

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Chocolate Ganache:

8 ounces semisweet chocolate (50 to 60 percent cacao), finely chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the melted butter, buttermilk, egg, vanilla and 1/2 cup water together in another bowl until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking until just combined. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through cooking, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  3. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Discard the parchment paper and flip the cakes right side up again. Let the cakes cool completely.
  4. Make the cherry filling: Quarter the cherries and transfer them to a medium bowl with the 2 tablespoons reserved syrup. Combine the gelatin with 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Heat the gelatin in the microwave until it melts completely, about 10 seconds, stirring to dissolve. Combine the gelatin, cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, salt and almond extract in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape the cream cheese mixture into the bowl containing the cherries and stir to combine. Refrigerate, checking every 5 minutes, until the filling is just set enough to spread, 5 to 15 minutes. (Do not let the filling firm up too much.)
  5. Place one cake on a cake stand and pile the cherry filling in the center, spreading it in a thick layer almost to the edge. Top with the remaining cake, aligning the layers directly on top of each other so the cake does not lean. Refrigerate the assembled cake for 1 hour.
  6. Meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan then remove from the heat. Add the chocolate, shaking the pan gently to submerge it. Allow the pan to stand, off the heat, for 3 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk the ganache until smooth, then refrigerate until it is just thick enough to spread (like mayonnaise), about 15 minutes. (Do not let the ganache harden too much.)
  7. 15 to 20 minutes. (Do not let the ganache harden too much.)
  8. Stir the ganache again and scoop it on top of the cake, spreading it over the top and sides. Refrigerate the cake until the ganache is set, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)

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