Chocolate Cherry Cake

Hi friends– Last weekend was a cake-o-rama around here.  My sis and I made cakes for a big family baby shower– anticipating baby Wyatt’s coming to the big wide world soon!  And our dear younger friends Travis & Bekah were married in this most hopeful happy wedding– simply beautiful.  More cake baking!

So here’s my favorite of the bunch.  Fresh cherries in the cake and in the frosting– with rich ganache and cherries on top!

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CAKE

Cake:
1 dark chocolate cake mix
water
canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted & chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. butter (1 1/3 stick)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)
2/3 cup cherries, pitted & chopped very fine

Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Garnish:
stemmed fresh cherries

Make the cake according to the directions on the box–mine used 1 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs.  Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer.  Then fold in the cherries and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into 3 –9″ cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes–until they are firm to the touch.  Let them cool completely before adding the frosting!

To make the chocolate ganache, bring the cream and 2 tab. butter to a low simmer in a pan on the stove top.  Take it off the heat and beat in the chocolate chips for 2 or 3 minutes until they are melted and the ganache is glossy.  Let this cool completely before your pour it over the frosting (so you won’t melt the frosting!!)

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and amaretto (start on the lowest setting so you won’t have powdered sugar flying out of the mixing bowl!).  When that is blended, stir in the cherries with a wooden spoon until they are thoroughly mixed in and the frosting is colored a light pink from the cherries.

Frost the 3 layers of the cooled cake, stacking as you go.  When the ganache is thoroughly cooled drizzle it over the cake letting little streams pour down the sides.  Top with a mound of fresh cherries– Done! and so pretty!

Cherry Pecan Scones

 

Hello friends– The last few weeks my sis-in-law has been helping Larry’s parents clean out cupboards and drawers all over the house.  It’s been fun to drop in and help turn up ancient family photos and beautiful old dishes and Christmas ornaments from the 1940’s.

So last week I baked up these scones for some snacking while we worked.  Bright fresh cherries and that sweet little crunch of the pecans. With a dab of whipped cream & cherry jam, all the better.  Delish!

CHERRY PECAN SCONES
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and cut in quarters
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tab. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
1/2 cup half & half (or whole milk)

Pit & cut up the cherries. Chop the pecans. Set aside

In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender (or two forks) cut in the butter.  In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and half & half until it’s blended and then mix the liquid into the four mixture until it’s all combined.

Gently fold in the cherries and pecans. (Don’t over mix them of the cherries will turn the dough pink!)

On a floured counter, turn out the dough and flatten it to disc about an 1 1/2″ thick.  Cut out the scones with a round cookie cutter and set them on a baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake them up at 400 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes until they are golden brown around the edges.  Best eaten hot from the oven with a mug of tea.

Triple Chocolate Black Forest Cake

Hello all– Chocolate cake, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce with fresh cherries and cream.  That about sums it up.  Loved this rich and creamy cake and I’m hoping you will too, while cherries are at the market bright and juicy.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BLACK FOREST CAKE
1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/4 cup water
3 eggs
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate ice cream topping*
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted, chopped
2 tab. almond kirsch or amaretto
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tab. powdered sugar
2 tab. vanilla instant pudding powder**
garnish: fresh stemmed cherries

With an electric mixer, make the cake according to the directions on the box (mine called for 1/2 cup oil, 1 1/4 cup water & 3 eggs).  Spoon the batter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or a 10″ spring form cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the cake according the directions on the box.  Out of the oven let the cake cool completely.  Then poke holes into the cake with the handle end of a wooden spoon.  Drizzle the ice cream topping over the cake and into the holes.  (If the topping is too thick to drizzle, put it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds).

Chop the pitted cherries and mix them in a bowl with the kirsch or amaretto.  Then spoon them evenly over the top of the cake.

Whip the cream with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer until it is well set.  Beat in the powdered sugar and pudding mix.  Then spoon the thickened cream over the cake and set it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more to make sure the cream is firm.

Garnish with the stemmed cherries and then serve it up to friends…

*I used Smuckers Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Topping
**The pudding mix thickens and stabilizes the cream.

Cherry Citrus Salad

 

Hello friends– Have cherries turned up at your market yet??  I walked over to the Farmers Market in San Francisco last week with little Lois and there were cherries galore!  So dark and sweet– we bought a bagful for a treat.

And back home there are piles of Cherries at the market too– So when Jenni invited us over for a bar-b-que, we arrived with this salad in hand.  Bright and sweet and hearty.  Just right for a summer night eating grilled chicken & sausages with a table of friends.

CHERRY CITRUS SALAD
8 cups mixed salad greens
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
2 avocados, cut into chunks
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2 oranges, peeled and cut into sections

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. Champagne orange vinegar*
1 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Spread the greens into a large salad bowl.  On top, layer the beans, avocados, cherries and oranges.

Shake the dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid until they are thoroughly blended. Drizzle the dressing over the salad when you are ready to serve it.  Enjoy!

*They have this luscious Orange Vinegar at Trader Joe’s– but I’ve seen it other places too.

A couple pics from our trek to the SF Farmer’s Market  (San Francisco City Hall in the background)–
   

Cherry Bit Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Hello all– We lived in Texas the first 4 years we were married. Larry was in seminary and I taught science all week.  So every Saturday it was the same routine.  He’d study– while I cleaned our student apartment (so tiny, it didn’t take long!) went with 3 friends to grocery shop together, did laundry and then made cookies. So many cookies!  Now days we don’t need weekly cookies…

But for some young friends coming in last Thursday, I pulled out this old recipe.  Homey and sweet and best hot from the oven!

CHERY BIT CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1  1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1  1/2 cups oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries, minced*

With an electric mixer beat the butter, 2 sugars and eggs until they’re creamy.  Then beat in the flour, salt, baking powder and oats.  Finally, use the mixer to blend in the walnuts, chocolate chips and cherries.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Flatten the cookies a bit with the bottom of a heavy glass.

Bake them up at 350 degrees for 11 or 12 minutes.  Be sure to eat at least one hot from the oven!!

*Whole dried cherries are too gummy for me.  I mince them to bits, for their cherry sweetness, but no gummy bites!

Cherry Cream Tart

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Hey there– Sad to say summer is closing down on us here.  The kids on the next block over started to back to school yesterday.  And I’m collecting supplies and trundling them over to my classroom getting ready for some 3rd & 4th graders myself. But there’s a few days left of lunch with friends, and long morning walks, a lazy afternoons ready and I’m trying to make the most of them.

And there are still summer fruit at the market– so many cherries this summer!  So here’s a luscious way to celebrate the end of summer– creamy and sweet.  Savoring summer for these last few days…

CHERRY CREAM TART

Crust:
1 cup flour
3 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted & cooled a bit
1 egg yolk, beaten

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. whipped cream
1 tsp. vanilla instant pudding powder*
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/3 cup cherry (or raspberry) jam**

To make the crust, stir together the flour, 3 tab. sugar and salt.  Then mix in the butter and the egg yolk.

Press the dough with your fingers into a 9″ tart or pie pan.  Put it into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, so that the crust comes out browned around the edges and cooked through.  Let it cool before you add the filling.

With an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.

Then with the mixer, in a second bowl, whip the cream with the instant vanilla pudding powder until it is stiff.  Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture with a wooden spoon.

And it yet another bowl, stir together the cherries and the jam.

Then spoon the whipped cream/cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust.  Layer the cherries on top.

If you are not eating it right away, set it in the fridge to keep cool.  Hope you like it!!

* The instant pudding acts as a stabilizer for the whipped cream and keeps the filling firm, even after it sits out for a while.
**I didn’t have cherry jam in the fridge, so I used raspberry and it was just fine.

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Cherry Cheesecake

IMG_1066Hello– This cheese cake uses my sis’s world’s best cheesecake recipe as a starting point– with just a few cherries thrown in.  Thanks Lulu!  She’s the best cook ever and I’ve learned so much from her– no one I’d rather share a kitchen with!!

CHERRY CHEESE CAKE

Crust:
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tab. sugar
1  1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Cheesecake:
3 -8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1  1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup of cherries, pitted and cut to small bits

topping:
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2 tab. water
2 tab cornstarch
2 tab. sugar

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This is my handy-dandy olive pitter from years ago when we lived in Spain.  Works for cherries too!

Mix together the melted butter, 2 tab. sugar and graham cracker crumbs and then press them into the bottom of a 9″ to 10″ springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until blended.  Then beat in the eggs and sour cream.  Finally, gently fold in the cherries and then spoon he mixture in over the crust.

Put it into a 350 degree oven for 60 to 70 minutes.  It will still be a little “jiggly,” but will firm as it cools.

For the topping, pit the cherries.  Then in a heavy saucepan, stir together the 2 tab. sugar and cornstarch until there are no lumps.  Add the water the stir over medium heat until it simmers and thickens, just about a minute.  Then drop in the cherries and cook a minute more.

Remove from the heat and let the cherry topping cool completely before you spoon onto the top of the cake.  Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it up.  Bon Apetit!

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