stephmodo: Dark Chocolate Cherry Cake + Changing Tides

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cake + Changing Tides

• 02 November 2012

Somewhat recently a surprising amount of negative energy entered my life.  And to be quite honest, I was a bit distraught about it all.  Unfortunately, I allowed this energy to shadow every aspect of my life--it was hard not to.  But, after a little time had passed, I decided to pick myself up, thoughtfully contemplate what I could learn from the situation, and then do my best to work through the muck.  Because as human beings, that is really all we can do when negativity comes our way.  The alternative isn't pretty.

However, my heart indicated that simply announcing my resolve was not enough.  I knew I needed to counteract this negative energy with positive energy or I would never find peace.  And so I headed to the place where I often create joy...the kitchen.  I pulled out my best ingredients (including my coveted Valrhona cocoa powder) and baked a cake.  A Dark Chocolate Cherry Cake in fact; inspired by my favorite bar of chocolate (thank you Miss Rebecca for the intro...and the cocoa powder :)).

As I made the cake from scratch, I made a conscious effort to think positive thoughts by reflecting on the sources of love and kindness in my life.  I thought about how my life has been blessed by these sources and how grateful I am for them. Perhaps many of you practice this sort of thought process more often, but I am embarrassed to say it had been awhile for me.  It felt restorative to begin filling my mind with happy, grateful thoughts.  Healing had begun.

After baking and slightly cooling the cake, I prepared a simple ganache to envelop the dark round.  Once it had set, I cut out wedges of this decadent cake and placed them in my wedge-shaped boxes for gifting.  We shared with our neighbors, the cranky librarian, a sad friend, my children's teachers, pregnant ladies and anyone else who needed a healthy does of chocolate!  Although, that's really all of us, right?  If only I'd realized that the first time around...we ended up going for round 2 in the kitchen because I didn't feel settled after round one.  There was still more mending to do and so I happily pressed "repeat".

I hope you enjoy this cake recipe as much as I enjoyed sharing it.  Also, I would love to hear what you do to when negative energy comes your way.  How do you make sense of it all and move on in a healthy way? outside of chocolate :)

{p.s. click on "read more" for the recipe}
Dark Chocolate Cherry Cake (adapted from Everyday Food)

For the cake:

3/4 c. unsalted butter (that's 1 1/2 sticks), room temperature (plus a little more for buttering pans)
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (plus a little more for that pan...)
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt (if you're using a high-quality salt like sel gris, then add an additional pinch)
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. crème fraîche (sour cream works as a substitution)
1/2 c. good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I love the Ghirardelli brand at the store)
1 c. drained cherries in water

For ganache:

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch round cake pan before lining the bottom with a parchment round.  Butter the paper too, then dust with cocoa powder; tapping out the excess.

Over a medium bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (medium speed)  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low and alternate the flour mixture with the crème fraîche--beginning and ending with the flour.  Fold in 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips and the cup of drained cherries until blended (about a minute).

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Tap pan firmly on the countertop to force out large air bubbles (just once should do the trick).  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for ten minutes.  Then invert onto a cake stand, plate or tray.

Prepare ganache: Place 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat 1 c. of heavy cream over medium heat until slightly bubbly, about 5 minutes.  Once the cream looks like it's about to rise and overflow, quickly remove from heat element.  Pour over chocolate chips and allow to sit for a minute or two before whisking until smooth.  Pour over cake, using a spatula to cover the top of the cake completely.  Allow the ganache to set for at least a half hour before serving.

And most importantly, enjoy!


  1. hi, what a coincidence, I am also in a bit of a negative phase and I am going to bake a pumpking&nutella loaf now... hope it helps as well, I hadn't thought about thinking positive thoughts while doing so but I'll try.

    when these things happen, what I usually do is try to entertain myself with other thinks like blogging, reading or even watching TV. this or I'd call a friend.

    the chocolate cake looks delicious :)

  2. hi, what a coincidence, I am also in a bit of a negative phase and I am going to bake a pumpking&nutella loaf now... hope it helps as well, I hadn't thought about thinking positive thoughts while doing so but I'll try.

    when these things happen, what I usually do is try to entertain myself with other thinks like blogging, reading or even watching TV. this or I'd call a friend.

    the chocolate cake looks delicious :)

  3. Hello, Stephanie,
    thank you for sharing the thoughts and the recepie. I also experience such feelings in my live, and just recently I have cosciously realized that my 'coping strategy' is being in the kitchen and baking things. Even if I am busy and in a hurry, the the whole transformative process of putting ingrediences together and taking a cake out of the oven puts things in order.
    Have a nice & safe weekend.
    Greetings from Prague, Veronika

  4. Sometimes, when I feel like I've been to shitty situations, I always try to have a time for myself. Get a massage, eat sweets alone, etc. Sometimes even just reading a book and a cup of coffee will do. :)

    Your cake looks very delicious, by the way. :)

  5. I have had issues w/a family member, something I'm not accustomed to do, this year. I flip between muttering angrily to myself and taking deep breaths realizing what I can't control or change in the world. Being in the kitchen always helps, too. Beautiful cake!

  6. I'm sorry to hear you've been having a hard time. Hit a cord, though, because I feel like I am on the upswing as well. A combination of being over scheduled and over tired is not good for anyone:) I have finally cleared my to-do list to a manageable level, begun enforcing an earlier bedtime, and yes, spending more time in the kitchen. The piece I'm missing, that you've reminded me of, is the sharing. I'll make sure the huge ball of sugar cookie dough in my fridge, awaiting baking and decoration this afternoon makes it into the hands of a pile of good people outside of my family. Thanks for your good example! And I can't wait to make this cake. xoxo

  7. Unfortunately seeing others' comments, I think it's not uncommon to experience unexpected and extended bouts of negative energy in our lifetime. It's so hard when thoughts and emotions start overtaking one's daily life. Please know that my thoughts are with you and I hope this time will pass soon. I find that your blog is a serious shot of positive energy. You have mentioned there are times where it is difficult to write and I can only imagine. But know that your readers adore your posts. Thank you so much for sharing. It's clearly a comfort to many.

  8. I love ganache instead of icing, and the chocolate cherry combination sounds so good. I find the kitchen a good spot for meditating also.

  9. You go, Steph! This is why I love you- not just because your life (and food) always look so pretty, but because you're smart enough to make it good.

    I write. And train for a triathlon. And listen to good music (want me to send you some?). And read good books. I love the power in choice!

  10. i pray the very eloquent and complicated prayer:


    give it a whirl.

    btw. i tried desperately to get a seat at mamie gateaux in paris recently, and there was no room in the inn (it's all about biblical references today i guess). and the shop is gone temporarily! fortunately there were other things in paris to keep me smilin. read about our hotel in today's post.


  11. Wow, when I asked you to post this recipe on Instagram I had no idea it was therapy too! Unfortunately for me I tend to try to medicate myself with food so this wouldn't work for me, this is the type of thing I'd have to enjoy only when I am feeling good. I'm still struggling with finding what works for me when I feel down or battling negative energy. But right now the happy energy seems to be outweighing the bad so I need to bake this cake!

  12. Ladies, I am finding great comfort in your words today. Thank you so much for sharing what works for you. I appreciate it so much.

  13. When I'm blue ...
    +watch an old movie that will make me cry
    +sit with my dog on my lap
    +make chicken stock
    +go for a walk with an inspirational podcast, speech or audio book (I have a great lecture on forgiveness)

  14. When my heart is heavy, I need to be alone to pray and talk through what is at the core of what is causing me pain. It sometimes takes some figuring out to get to the bottom of it. Then a nice long walk helps to get me back on track to appreciating my life, good and not so good. And being grateful to God for all of it. Then a delicious meal, prepared for my family, or someone else, seals the deal!

  15. I always appreciate how you explain yourself so eloquently & honestly, but I'm sorry to hear you've been suffering! I love your coping tactic though - you are such a giver. It's good to be reminded to look outward when we are in the negative cycle of focusing in on our own small worlds. I saw the pictures of the cake on instagram - didn't realize the back-story until I came here. The cake looks absolutely divine - lucky recipients! More than once, I've wished to be a neighbor of yours.... I had a hard week last week, and on top of it got the worst cold I can remember having. Yesterday though, my husband came home and found that I had baked a pear cake for afternoon tea, some chocolate chip cookies for the kids' lunch boxes, and I was working on cheese scones to go with soup for supper - my husband's comment, "you must be feeling better!" Hope you are feeling stronger and happier and that you are off to a great start for the week!

  16. It is soo easy to get down this time of year (especially in dark damp Seattle) - but this year I've had an amazing breakthrough (only took 12 years in this place to finally happen). I simply started noticing EVERYTHING wonderful around me. You're already good at this: gorgeous fall foliage, the fun of pulling out and wrapping up in cozy wool sweaters and down blankets. And hey, tonight we're even headed to the beach for bonfire night! And last night I was just inspired by someone to pull together a bunch of paper and create an easy book in which to write one thing I'm grateful for each day this month. The old "count your blessings" trick! I'm truly feeling a golden glow of energy this season as a result!

  17. My coping strategy--for anything, really--is yoga. It's probably the taking time for myself more than the yoga that's the actual cure, but I'm sticking with it!

  18. Prayers for you. And gratitude for your sweet example of serving others when you are down. Aren't you so lovely?

  19. My lifelines during times of sorrow are: prayer, exercise, making something with my hands (knitting, sewing, any kind of crafting, baking, on and on), learning something new that I never thought I could do (or that other never thought I could do), and keeping a gratitude journal. And more prayer during all of those activities. Thank you for your blog.

  20. Sharmyn, thank you for your note. You are kind to say that, but I assure you I have many less-than-lovely-moments. But, I am trying to be better so hopefully that counts for something :) xoxo

    Anon, I love your ideas here--all about being tactile and discovering new things. So invigorating. Thank you for sharing!

  21. what a beautiful entry. exactly the perfect situation in which to create something perfectly divine.

  22. My husband's business partnership started to fall apart very suddenly about 18 months ago. It was a VERY contentious split that took over a year to resolve, and it made him very sad at work and at home, and just acted as a huge black cloud in our lives. We decided that we could either let his partner's bad decisions make us even more unhappy by dwelling on them all the time, or try as much as possible not to let them affect us. We chose to be happy at home and happy in our life outside of work. We made up our minds that we weren't going to let some dirt bag make us unhappy. The partnership was finally dissolved on August 1st (hooray!) and now everything is sunshine and roses again.

  23. Mer, thank you for the note.

    Lulu, I'm sorry to hear that--that kind of stuff is just yucky (for lack of a better word). I am very inspired by your resolve though!


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