Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. it is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits. – Baron Justus von Liebig, 1893
National Chocolate Day. I have never quite understood these national and international food days, the celebration of this foodstuff or that, and the fervor with which friends take delight in these things. As if National This Day or International That Day devoted to bacon or soup, burgers or waffles, popcorn or cheese, creampuffs or cassoulet (for heaven’s sake) was a holiday tantamount to Valentine’s Day or Halloween.
But chocolate is, well, a different story. I have always been a chocolate fanatic. Vanilla or chocolate? Beer or wine? Moonlight or candlelight? Cats or dogs? Of course, I always answered chocolate without hesitation. (And dogs.) My predilection has always been for chocolate whether in milkshakes, Poptarts, cereal, ice cream, or birthday cake. My high school lunch was more often than not a fluffy roll or a plate of French fries with a carton of chocolate milk. When back home in the States on vacation, I load up on chocolate Tootsie Rolls, peanut butter-filled milk chocolate candies, and Hershey’s chocolate bites and candy kisses. I do love chocolate.
My men can take it or leave it, often preferring a non-chocolate treat. I will never forget my own heartrending disappointment when, upon tasting chocolate for the very first time, my younger son made a face and spit it out. I was sure that he was my own flesh and blood! How could that be? Yet, they know to bring me chocolate at Hanukkah, on my birthday, and on Valentine’s Day.
With this very short introduction, I would like to celebrate today’s National Chocolate Day with a favorite cake, my Chocolate Spice Cake with Sour Black Cherries in Syrup. Chocolate does not mean that it has to be gooey and decadent. This cake is beautifully tender and delicate with a perfect crumb, moist without being too dense or gooey. A lovely delicate chocolate flavor not too sweet, not too dark. Cinnamon and cloves add warmth and a depth of flavor that accentuates and heightens the cocoa. I paired the chocolate with black cherries rich with syrup although I highly recommend you replacing these with my Rum Roasted Cherries. Divine. A very special chocolate cake worthy of a celebration.
Happy National Chocolate Day!
- 7 Tbs (100 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 ¾ cup (230 g) flour
- 3 Tbs (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp cloves, optional
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup (scant 200 ml) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 small jar sour black cherries (griottes) in syrup – or replace with my Rum Roasted Cherries – cherries and juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Generously butter a 9-inch (23 cm) Bundt pan – (or two 9-inch layer cake pans or one loaf pan).
- Place the softened butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes until thick, smooth and doubled in volume.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition to increase the volume of the batter.
- Stir or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a separate bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three additions, alternating with the milk in two, beginning and ending in dry, beating after each addition until well blended.
- Beat in the vanilla as well as 1 – 2 tablespoons of the cherry syrup.
- If you want more of the cherries in the cake, simply fold 2 - 3 tablespoons of the drained cherries into the batter. This will be particularly good if using my rum roasted cherries.
- If using a Bundt pan, place a row of cherries – let the juice drip off back into the jar – around the bottom of the pan around the tube. Carefully ladle the batter into the pan on top of the cherries so the cherries aren’t pushed out of line. Scrape out the rest of the batter into the pan, gently smooth the top if needed and place in the preheated oven.
- Bake for 45 – 50 minutes (Note: if using layer cake pans or a loaf pan and depending upon your oven, baking times may vary greatly, so begin checking the cake for doneness after 35 minutes.) The cake is done when a tester stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean - or cleanish, with no liquid batter.
- Remove from the oven onto cooling racks and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before gently shaking the cake lose and turning it out of the baking pan and onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Slide the cake onto a serving platter, dust with a bit of cocoa powder and serve. For an elegant dessert, serve the cake with very lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream topped with more of the cherries and a drizzle of syrup.