Food You Can Eat: Cherry Chocolate Cake

Welcome to the 1950's

First things first:  Still plowing through my grandmother’s recipes and this is another winner.  That’s all I have to say about that.

A caveat before we get started:  This being a recipe from the mid-20th Century, I’m quite certain that the references to “cherry juice” and “cherries” mean Maraschino cherries.  But I outgrew my taste for those right around the time I lost my taste for the music of Iron Maiden.  So, I’m using pure tart cherry juice and real black cherries in this recipe.  I also used butter instead of shortening.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 Cups + 2 Tbsp. Flour

1 ½ tsp. Baking Soda

¾ tsp. Baking Powder

¾ tsp. Salt

½ Cup Shortening

1 ½ Cups Sugar

2 Eggs

1 ¼ Cup Buttermilk

¼ Cup Cherry Juice

2 Squares Unsweetened Chocolate, melted

⅓ Cup Cherries, chopped

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat shortening, while adding sugar in a slow but steady manner.  Add eggs, buttermilk, cherry juice and melted chocolate.

Slowly mix dry ingredients until just combined.  Fold in chopped cherries.

This is the first picture because the earlier steps are self-explanatory. If you need more pictures, then this cake is beyond you.

Pour batter into greased cake pans (either two 9” rounds, one 12” round, or a 9” x 13” pan).

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. 

This was closer to 38 minutes.

There wasn’t a frosting recommendation with the original recipe so I decided to use the buttermilk chocolate frosting recipe from the buttermilk brownies because it is so awesome.

Yes, this is the picture from the buttermilk brownies recipe. Yes, I am lazy.

This is an excellent cake.  The cherry flavor is more subtle that I expected but I think that’s a feature not a bug.  I wouldn’t want the flavor of the cherries to hit me like a punch in the face.

About butcherbakertoiletrymaker 557 Articles
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  1. Chocolate and cherry go so well together. This looks very good. 

  2. Alrighty then – that looks very, very, tasty.

  3. Do you really think your grandmother would have used Maraschino cherries? I think then, as now, they must have been much more expensive than the regular ones. I remember visiting an aunt in the 1970s and regular, supermarket cherries were a favored snack, and they didn’t have a lot of money.

    But then again I was misdiagnosed with gout (that damned left foot and my tingling left leg which started this whole medical odyssey more than a year ago) and was advised to choke down as much cherry juice as I could, and that’s not cheap either. Sadly, if you really do have gout, dollar store off-brand cherry-flavored soda won’t help you, even if it is 99 cents/2-liter bottle.

    • The cherry juice was was tipped me off.  That’s not the most common thing to find today, and even then it’s the SUPER ORGANIC stuff that costs a mint.  In a Milwaukee grocery store even in the 70’s/80’s, it was almost impossible.  Plus, they were raising 7 kids (yes, they were Catholic, why do you ask) and of course only on one income.

  4. While I’m here: Have you conquered a meat recipe from your grandmother? I cook out of “vintage” cookbooks sometimes and it’s always the meat that kind of stymies me. I’m convinced that the meat was far closer to organic than what a modern supermarket provides, and the ovens were more powerful. I’ve been told more than once that that’s not true about the ovens but I have a very powerful one and I always have a meat thermometer at hand when I attempt this, because when a time and temperature is given (“cook until done” is not uncommon) sometimes the meat isn’t ready yet and it has to go longer.

    • Yup, quite a few.  There’s this one, plus a meatloaf recipe (not the one I did here), a Parmesan chicken (as opposed to chicken Parmesan), and a dish called poppy seed casserole which has ground turkey.  So far, it’s mostly the baked goods where the times are so far off.  Meats haven’t been much of an issue.


    • I think you are right that meat was different 50 years ago. More fat and a higher bone to meat ratio. I also think animals are bred and fed these days to go to slaughter much younger, which tends to limit flavor.
      I think ovens were a lot more idiosyncratic before as well. Energy efficiency standards today mean a lot more insulation on average, so I think they avoid a lot of heat leaks that could cause major hot and cold spots in old ovens. Digital controls also are a lot more precise than old analog dials, and I wouldn’t be surprised if old oven thermostats were pretty inaccurate.
      I would bet for a lot ovens setting one for 350 meant the oven went all the way up to 400, shut down until the temp hit 300, and then repeated the cycle, and within parts of the oven, temperatures could go as high as 450 or as low as 250.
      Older cookbooks tend to talk a lot more about yanking pans midway and turning them around, and also switching shelves. I think that was due to these kinds of issues.

      • I still rotate pans in the oven, because the house leans a bit…just enough to prevent the oven from leveling. So to prevent 1-sided burning, I rotate.

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