By Marge Perry and David Bonom
Assemble this glorious show-stopper of a cake just two hours before serving, but the cake layers may be baked a day ahead; wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated. The cherries may also be prepared a day ahead, but the whipped cream should be made as the cake is assembled.
2 (12 onces) bags frozen dark sweet cherries thawed
1/3 cup kirsch
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons kirsch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces cold semi-sweet chocolate shaved with a vegetable peeler
- Combine the cherries, kirsch, and sugar in a bowl and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl down occasionally. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 15 seconds; stir and repeat until chocolate is melted. Cool 3 minutes; add to the sugar mixture and beat until well combined. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 additions; add the vanilla and beat until combined. Pour the batter into the two pans, knocking each on the counter several times to get rid of air bubbles.
- Bake in the center of the oven until top of cake springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-37 minutes. Cool in pans on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on rack.
- Drain the cherry mixture, reserving liquid. Set aside 15 whole cherries and coarsely chop the remaining.
- Combine the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, kirsch, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat to stiff peaks.
- To assemble: Cut each cake horizontally in half to make a total of four layers. Place each layer cut side up on a flat plate or board: brush the cut side of each layer with about 1 tablespoon of the reserved cherry liquid. (The remaining liquid may be discarded or used for another purpose.)
- Place 4 12-inch long by 3-inch wide strips of paper (parchment or way) around the perimeter of the cake platter. Place one layer, cut side up, on the platter, partially over the paper. (When you are finished frosting the cake, the paper is removed, leaving the cake platter clean.) Place about one-third of the chopped cherries on the cake and spread about 1 ½ cups whipped cream over them in an even layer. Repeat with the next two layers; top with the final layer and brush it with the cherry liquid. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining whipped cream to cover and sprinkle with the chocolate shavings. Place 12 of the whole cherries around the perimeter of the top of the cake and three together in the center. Refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.
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