Thursday, April 9, 2020

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CAKE: A Delicious Distraction - Guest Post by Kathy Boone Reel

Chocolate Cherry Cake, A Delicious Distraction 

In dealing with the isolation from our friends and families during the COVID-19 crisis, we all need some treats to brighten our days. I’m finding that normal activities for me are ones that are helping immensely, such as reading and blogging and spending time online with my reading community, which in my case is the mystery/crime community. But, I’ve added a few things, too. Calling friends and family more, staying in touch and keeping apprised of how they are coping and allowing me to talk about how I am coping. Then, my ten-year-old granddaughter and I have started doing video chats, talking for at least half an hour at a time (her video chat has parental controls for that amount of time).

Then, there’s the cooking and baking. I’m doing much more of those, and I’m trying to fix some dishes I haven’t fixed in a while or some new ones to keep it interesting. Of course, some of the tried and true menu items bring the most comfort. One of the treats I just fixed has been in my recipe drawer for around 25 years, and when my family wants a chocolate fix, it’s an almost unanimous choice. My son is a chocolate purist and doesn’t think cherries belong in the same cake pan as chocolate cake. The rest of us think that Chocolate Cherry Cake is da bomb.

One of the advantages/disadvantages to this cake is that its size in the 9 x 13 pan seems to make miles of cake to be eaten. When you have the family there, it’s a huge relief to know you have plenty of cake for everyone. When it’s just my husband and me, well, it seems a bit indulgent. However, I’ve already stated that in this time of isolation we need treats. So, I threw caution to the wind, laid out my stretch pants, and fixed the cake last night. I’ll send a couple of pieces to my mother-in-law (she won’t take more than that), but we will still be eating cake through the weekend.

So, let’s get to the recipe. I use the cake recipe that I copied all those years ago, but I don’t use the icing recipe that came with it. The chocolate icing recipe I use is something I searched for, an icing that would turn out delicious and consistent, one that I didn’t have worry about. I finally found it, and I recommend it for any bakery item calling for chocolate icing.

Chocolate Cherry Cake 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Grease (with Crisco) and flour a 13 x 9 x2 pan


1 box of SuperMoist Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake (I usually use Betty Crocker, but I’ve used Duncan Hines, too)
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I usually use canola oil)
1 can cherry pie filling

1 stick butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease a 9 x 13 pan or dish (I always use a glass pan). Mix the cake ingredients together and pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. (I usually start checking at around 32/33 minutes. I left it in 34 minutes this last time.) The top can be a little bumpy, or it might not be. When your butter knife comes out clean, it’s done. Let the cake cool completely, or as near as you or your husband can stand, before icing it.

Making the icing. Use a large pot. Melt stick of butter on the stovetop. Add cocoa. Add milk. I mix the cocoa up with the butter first and then stir in the milk. Bring to a rolling boil, which I consider the same as a bubbling boil. Stir it as it comes to boil (I stir it a lot, as I’m afraid it might stick if I don’t). Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar. I use the portable mixer to keep the icing smooth after the initial stirring it in a bit. Add the vanilla extract.

Use a knife to make holes in the cake. Yes, you want the icing to get in those slits. Now, comes the only tricky part. Get that icing onto the cake as quickly as you can. It sets up pretty fast and doesn’t take well to smoothing over after a minute or two of spreading it on the cake. It still tastes terrific, but if you want it to be its prettiest, don’t mess with it. Get icing on and leave it alone. (In the picture, you can see where I tried to mess with a spot.)

Now, serve with some vanilla ice cream for a complete treat.
When not suffering from a chocolate coma, Kathy Boone Reel reads great mystery/crime books and reviews them on her blog, The Reading Room at

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