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!


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