Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling

My son turned 21 last week and for his birthday I baked him his favorite cake, a chocolate cherry cake with chocolate icing. This year I changed it up a bit and tried a new recipe from a new cooking magazine I received in the mail, Cuisine At Home. I was really impressed with it, no ads, lots of great pictures and tips, and great home cooking recipes.

On the back cover of the magazine was a mouthwatering picture of a slice of Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with a quote from Oscar Wilde – “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it…” So how could I resist, especially when they described it as super-moist, easier than a mix and the kind of cake grandma use to make.

The recipe is very different than traditional cake recipes. It uses baking soda and vinegar and no baking powder or eggs. It has more of a moist spongy texture that looked a little odd unfrosted, but it made frosting the layers so much easier because I didn’t have lots of little crumbs on the edges to deal with.

Everyone loved this cake. It’s definitely one I would make again. I filled it with a maraschino cherry filling and iced it with the Glossy Chocolate Icing recipe included with the cake recipe in Cuisine At Home. The icing got mixed reviews I think mostly because I used dutch cocoa instead of unsweetened and the chocolate flavor was a little too strong, but the birthday boy loved it. Of course he wanted his favorite cherry chocolate chip ice cream served with it. Give this one a try!

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar*
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used KA Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups hot water*
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (I substituted 1 teaspoon chocolate extract)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Maraschino Cherry Filling
  • 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherry liquid
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Glossy Chocolate Icing:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules (I substituted 1 teaspoon chocolate extract)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350º with rack in the center. Spray two 9x2 inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.

Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. (Don't use a mixer.)

Combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee, and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined, a few lumps are OK. Divide batter between pans, then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool cakes on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert them onto the rack.. Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely.

*I made the following high altitude adjustments: Decreased the sugar by 2 tablespoons, used 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda and 2 1/4 cup hot water.

Maraschino Cherry Filling

In small saucepan combine sugar and corn starch. Gradually add in cherry liquid, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in cherries. Cook over medium high heat until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Cool completely before using.

Glossy Chocolate Icing:

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in sugar, cocoa, and salt. (Mixture will be thick and grainy.)

Combine heavy cream, sour cream, and instant coffee in a large measuring cup, mixing until smooth. Gradually add cream mixture to chocolate until blended and smooth. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch, 6 - 8 minutes. Do not boil.

Remove from heat, add vanilla. Cool icing at room temperature until spreadable 2 - 3 hours.

Icing may be chilled until completely cold, then warmed gently in microwave until spreadable. Heat at high power in 20-second intervals, stirring well after each interval. (I got a little impatient and whipped the frosting after two hours because it still hadn't set up enough.)


adapted from Cuisine at Home


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    Leave a Comment:

  1. Fabi says

    I was wondering if the consistency of the frosting is like buttercream frosting? I wanted to cover the cake with fondant and I am not sure how the frosting would hold up. The cake is delicious by the way! Best chocolate cake recipe ever! Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Fabi – so glad you love the cake. The frosting is softer than buttercream, and I’m not sure how it would hold up under fondant. I’ve never tried it. Let me know if you do.

  2. esha says

    Hey hi , just tried out this cake for my mom’s birthday yesterday. Turned out brilliantly. The cake was really soft and very unlike most of the eggless cakes I’ve tasted. Though I did not have corn starch so I used 1tbsp of corn flour instead. Thanks for this amazing recipe.

  3. says

    Hi Barbara,

    I’m planning to make this cake for my hubby’s bday next month. I wanted to know if you used granular or powdered sugar? Since we are not beating the batter only whisking it, the grains of sugar will not dissolve, so is this ok?

    • says

      The recipes uses granulated sugar. I don’t recommend substituting powder sugar because the measurements would change. The sugar will dissolve as the cake bakes and your cake will be light and fluffy and beautiful! Happy Birthday! Hope he has a wonderful day.

  4. Stephanie S says

    This cake is amazing!!
    I’m baking my own wedding cake and this is the first chocolate cake recipe that I have found (homemade/scratch is what I’m looking for) and needless to say I will not be looking for another recipe.
    Tonight is the second time I baked this cake and it has turned out wonderfully both times.
    However, it is my first time trying to make the cherry filling. I don’t mean to criticize but it smells and tastes a bit buttery. I think when I make it again I will double the recipe but keep the butter at one tablespoon. Is there anything you would recommend other than that that I could try out?
    My wedding is July 7th, 2012 so I have a little less than a month. I’m planning on freezing the cakes and seeing how they taste after a week’s time so I know how far in advance I can bake them.
    Thanks so much my husband and I love this chocolate cake! :]

    • says

      Hi Stephanie – Congratulations on your wedding! I think you could easily just omit the butter if you prefer the filling without it. I assume you plan to freeze the cake unfilled and just fill it and frost it the day before the wedding? Best wishes for a wonderful life together.

      • Stephanie S says

        Thanks so much.
        I actually froze the cake with the filling inside and we are now waiting to see how long it takes to thaw.
        I’ll try omitting the butter, sounds like a good idea.
        I’ll let you know how it turns out. : ]
        Also, do you have any idea how many cups of batter this makes? I’m going to need to make 25-1/2 cups so I’m not sure if I should double or triple the recipe.
        Thanks again

  5. Marianna says

    thanks! i think i will double the recipe to be on the safe side. i’d rather have a large cake and leftovers (or maybe cupcakes!) than not have enough. can’t ever have too much chocolate cake 😉

  6. Marianna says

    This recipe looks amazing and just what I was looking for! I need to make a sheet cake. Do you suggest doubling the recipe? Thank you!! :)

    • says

      Thanks Marianna – this would make a 9 x 13 sheet cake, if you wanted a bigger cake than that, you would have to increase the batter. I haven’t tried it though. Good question.

  7. Sabina says

    Thank you for such a great recipe. I hadn’t been able to find any good chocolate cake recipe for a while. First time I baked it for my cousin’s bday. Second time for my girlfriend’s, and then for my brother’s. Three times I baked it in a different way. At first time I made 3 shortcakes and 2 different fillings. 1 filling from your recipe, 2 is a mix of melted chocolate and nuts. It became really large and very very chocolate. Second time i used condensed milk instead of sour cream for icing. So I can experiment with filling but the most unusual thing about this cake is shortcakes that are unbelievable yummy. Thank you again and thousand times.

    • says

      Hi Sabinea. Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know how much you love the recipe. I’m definitely going to have to try the shortcakes now.

      • Sabina says

        Well, me and my girlfriend always go on a diet, but when I baked it for her bday, we couldn`t tear ourselves away from forks and plates. An unusual advantage of the shortcakes is that they don`t spoilt for a long a time. Thank you!

  8. RJofDC says

    I made this cake yesterday for Sunday dinner dessert. It was THE BOMB!!!!! I can’t even put into words how DEElicious it was and if you can read, then you can make it………………..

  9. Jan Brown says

    Thank you so much for this recipe, I have been looking for it for years. My recipe was a little different, but it was the frosting recipe I wanted. I made a wall around the top of bottom layer, plus a blob about 2 or 3 TBS. in the center with frosting. The empty well was filled with cherry pie filling. The top layer was added and frosted. When cut each slice was tipped with frosting. Will be making this in the near future. Thank you again

  10. says

    Hi Barbara, first time in your blog, I saw you on twitter, and wanted to tell you I tried this cake of yours and it turned out so well, from Deeba’s blog, I made stawberry filling as hers, next time I will make this cherry filling, looks gorgeous, thank you

    • says

      Welcome! So glad you stopped by. I hope you stop by often. I love Deeba’s blog. So sweet of her to post her version of this cake. Her’s is spectacular, I need to try the strawberry filling too. So glad you liked. See you on twitter too.

  11. says

    The cake is delicious!
    I made it with gluten free flour for some ‘gluten free friends’, which of course ended up a little crumbly and sagged in the middle because of GF, but tasted just divine. May have to up the baking soda or add an egg next time to compensate for the sag.

    I just used warm cream, a dash of melted butter and icing sugar & cocoa powder for the icing, stirred it together and poured it over.


  12. says

    Happy very belated birthday to him! The cake looks delicious. Do you think it would be ok to use natural cocoa without affecting the cake at all? What did the original recipe call for? Thank you. :)

  13. says

    This was clearly a labour of love. Twenty one! What a milestone for both of you – and I would FAR rather be baking a cake now a days than giving birth! :) :)
    Our traditional birthday cake is angel food – but I have girls. :)
    This does look delectable and I particularly appreciated knowing that there was very little crumb on the outside of the cake.
    My eldest just turned 32. Isn’t is shocking how fast the time flies? I still cannot believe it.