Chocolate-Cherry Layer Cake

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Chocolate-Cherry Layer Cake

Post  justmecookin on Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:12 pm

Chocolate-Cherry Layer Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons kirsch or cherry juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups hot water

2/3 cup dried cherries
3 to 4 tablespoons kirsch or cherry juice
1 cup cherry preserves or jam, preferably Morello or sour cherry

4 oz. high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon kirsch, if desired
3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Chocolate-Covered Cherries
12 large maraschino cherries with stems
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably 60% cacao), chopped

Heat oven to 350. Grease 3 (9-inch) round pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl at medium-high speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time until well-blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in 2 tablespoons kirsch and vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with 1 1/4 cups hot water just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter between pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack; cool completely. (Cakes can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

Meanwhile, heat dried cherries and 3 tablespoons kirsch in small saucepan over low heat until very warm. Stir in preserves; cook and stir until preserves are melted. Cool completely. If mixture is too thick to spread, stir in additional kirsch 1 teaspoon at a time. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Microwave white chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl on medium 30 to 60 seconds or until almost melted; stir until smooth. Beat cream cheese in large bowl at medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. At low speed, beat in melted chocolate and 1 tablespoon kirsch. Beat in 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar until soft and fluffy, adding additional powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

Drain maraschino cherries; pat dry with paper towels. Microwave bittersweet chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl on medium 30 to 60 seconds or until almost melted; stir until smooth. Holding cherries by the stems, dip halfway into chocolate; place on wire rack. Refrigerate a few minutes to set chocolate.

Place 1 cake layer on serving plate or platter; spread with half of the filling. Repeat with second layer and remaining filling. Top with third layer; spread top with frosting.

Right before serving, gently press chocolate-covered cherries, stem-side up, around top edge of cake. (Cake can be assembled 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving.)

Note - Morello cherry preserves have a sweet-tart taste due to the sour Morello cherries. Makes 12 servings

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