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Chocolate & Cherry Cake (Dairy-Free)

Welcome 2017! I hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas and New Years and enjoyed the break (if you got one!). The start of a new year brings with it the clichéd hope of new possibilities and a fresh start. The general feeling around seems to be all pretty clear that everyone is ready to embrace this new beginning. In saying that, thank you all so much for reading my blog last year, and I am excited to get back into it again and see where this year takes me.

I couldn’t think of a better way to get this year started than with a delicious chocolate cake! Now this isn’t any ordinary chocolate cake. It is rich but light, and so very delicious. I may even go as far as saying this is my favourite cake!

Chocolate & Cherry Cake I love lots of the little things that make up Christmas, the lights, the glitter, and music (yes I am that person!). But one thing I can never get enough of is Cherries! Mostly because they often come with a hefty price tag! Why so expensive for a little fruit?? I do think that the fact I do not buy them very much makes them even more indulgent. So what better way to enjoy them then combined with chocolate, because let’s face it, chocolate really does make everything better.

This year Christmas was spent with my husband’s family in our little home town in New South Wales and I was put in charge of dessert. Immediately I wanted to make a show-stopper of a cake – I mean it was for Christmas Day, you can’t just go average. It however still needed to be easy enough so I wouldn’t have to spend all day in the kitchen.

Chocolate & Cherry CakeLike I do, I had this picture in my head of what I wanted to create and as always I was so nervous that my creation would fail and not live up to my own expectations. I mean, what would happen if it was dense and hard and bland – Christmas would be ruined! Baking gets really intense in my head…

Anyway, that didn’t happen obviously. I played it ‘safe’ and didn’t do anything too far outside my comfort zone. I decided to do a chocolate Victoria sponge soaked in a cherry sugar syrup (to ensure it stayed moist and tasty) and slathered in a thick chocolate buttercream, topped with chocolate, cherries and a light dusting of icing sugar. Ah, cake perfection!

If you think that sounds amazing then you really need to make this cake, because that is exactly what it is.

Chocolate & Cherry CakeTo eliminate time in the kitchen on Christmas morning, I baked the cakes the night before and let them cool overnight. I try and always bake the night before as whether it is Christmas, a birthday or any other event, you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen and miss out on the festivities. The next morning all I had to do was make the buttercream and sugar syrup (which could also have been done the night before) and assemble the cake.

I think assembling is the most fun. I always put the cakes upside down as it gives you a flat surface on top. After arranging some chopped dark chocolate, fresh cherries and a dusting of icing sugar I was so excited to see the cake I had imagined take form in front of me. And of course I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

Chocolate & Cherry CakeThis is the kind of chocolate cake that makes you just want just one more slice. This is the kind of cake that you can place on the table and have people be impressed, not only by its glorious good looks, but also by how good it tastes. I think you will agree, it is a little bit of a show-stopper as cherries just make everything look better. Served with ice cream or cream, or just on its own, everyone is sure to love this cake.

If you are looking for a dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate cake option check out my Chocolate Coconut Cake with Raspberries.

Chocolate & Cherry Cake (Dairy-Free)
 
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What You'll Need
For the cake
  • ¾ cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ¾ cup dairy-free spread*
  • 4 eggs
For the syrup
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
For the buttercream
  • ¼ cup dairy-free spread*
  • 2 ¼ cups icing mixture
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tbsp water (optional)
What To Do
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease 2 x 20cm round cake pans with dairy-free spread* and flour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together caster sugar and dairy-free spread* using an electric beater until it just comes together smoothly.
  3. Add in eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until each has been completely combined within the mixture before adding in the next.
  4. Sift flour and cocoa add add slowly to the mixture, again mixing until completely combined.
  5. Pour the mixture evenly into the 2 pans and bake in the preheated oven for approx. 30 minutes or until the top is firm to touch.
  6. Leave in the pan to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
For the syrup
  1. Place sugar, water and pitted & halved cherries into a small saucepan and place on a high heat.
  2. Stir to until all sugar dissolves.
  3. As mixture comes to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Syrup will thicken slightly and the cherries will soften.
  5. Strain and set aside to cool.
For the buttercream
  1. Beat dairy-free spread* in a large mixing bowl with an electric beater, slowly adding in sifted icing sugar ¼ cup at a time ensuring it is completely mixed in before adding more.
  2. Add sifted cocoa powder, vanilla, and water if the mixture is a bit stiff and continue to beat until combined.
  3. Mixture should be a good consistency for spreading. Use more icing sugar or water if needed.
To assemble the cake
  1. Place one of the cakes on a serving plate. Drizzle with sugar syrup, a little bit at a time letting it soak in before adding more until cake is covered.
  2. Place a layer of the buttercream over the cake and sit the second cake on top, upside down so you have a flat surface on top.
  3. Again, drizzle sugar syrup onto cake allowing it to soak it up. You will not use all of the syrup you made, just use what you need.
  4. Spread the remainder of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake until covered. Tip: dip a metal spoon in water and use it to spread the frosting on the sides of the cake. It will make it easier as well as giving a smooth and even appearance.
  5. Top the cake as you wish with chopped dark chocolate, fresh cherries, and a light dusting of icing sugar.
Notes
*This cake is easily made dairy-free which is how I make it, using a dairy-free spread such as Nuttelex Lite in place of butter, however this recipe will still work with regular butter or margarine depending on your preference.

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