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. says

    Happy Birthday to the birthday boy! WOW, the big 21? You dont look old enough to have a 21 year old! This cake is beautiful. I have to go check out the magazine more.

  2. says

    How lucky is that Birthday Boy to have such a dedicated Mommy like you Barbara.

    I love chocolate cake…and this one is quite different than what I’m used to…very interesting ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  3. says

    A beautiful cake, Barbara, and belated Happy Birthday to your son.
    My son loves German Chocolate Cake….wish I could experiment, but he wouldn’t stand for it! :)

  4. says

    Perfect cake, how could one resist the delicious maraschino cherry filling and luscious chocolate icing plus the moisted chocolate cake? No way…. this is the cake I will bake this weekend :-)

  5. says

    Barbara – Your son is lucky to have a mom who will make something like this cake for him. I love the idea of a cherry filling. If you are ever in the market for maraschino cherries which don’t use any additives or artificial anything, check out Chukar Cherries. I actually eat their cherries right from the jar! They use cherries grown in Eastern Washington for all their products, including this one. You wouldn’t need to add any sugar, I’m sure, because they are already sweetened. The big difference would be the color since they are a more subtle red. I don’t do a lot of baking any more, but this is very tempting.

  6. says

    Though I’m not a cherry fan, your cake looks beautiful! My daughter, on the other hand, LOVES cherries, and her birthday is in May:) I think she would love this cake!

  7. says

    my father would love this cake! his weakness is chocolate/cherry. he is, however, fully vested in weight watchers right now so… i should mark it for the holidays next season! yum! it’s pretty too :)

  8. says

    I’ve been wandering around this afternoon on some food blogs looking for something yummy to make that isn’t gluten free or vegan or healthy, I should have known that if I stopped here, you’d have something lovely to make!

    Guess I gotta move you up in “Favorites” list!

  9. says

    It’s dangerous when you find a recipe with your two most favorite things (EVER) – chocolate and cherries. Thanks so much for such a great idea. I’ll have to save this for when I’ve been very good (and deserve it!)

  10. says

    Look at how deep and rich that chocolate looks! Wow. That filling must have been out of this world. I’m afraid I will be staring at the photos for a bit longer…

  11. says

    Barbara – That cake is so fantastic. It looks like a masterpiece! I always find it interesting to read about different ingredients being used, like the baking soda and vinegar. Always make me curious.

    By the way, I am CRAZY about that private selection brand of ice cream! Holy cow is that some good stuff. We buy the Chocolate Gelato flavor and I can’t seem to keep the kids out of it :)

    • says

      It really is great ice cream. I wonder who makes it for them. They make a chocolate raspberry ice cream that I love. I’ll have to try the chocolate gelato. Thanks!

  12. says

    Happy Birthday to your son! He has excellent taste in birthday cakes. I’m sure he know just how lucky he is that is mother is such an extraordinary baker.
    Gorgeous cake.

  13. says

    That is one lovely looking chocolate cake. Gorgeous frosting too. There are so many chocolate cake recipes out there, but this one looks like a keeper!

  14. says

    This cake looks amazing! I love the combination of cherry and chocolate. I also love the no ad magazines. It makes it a lot easier to read when you’re not trying to get past all the ads.

  15. says

    Oh, all I can say is OH,OH, Oh, There wouldn’t happen to be a slice left over would there? I thought Not…..

    Your photos are beautiful. This would be a big hit in my chocolate-loving family but you had me at the cherries.

  16. says

    Wow! What a cake, it looks delicious. Thanks for the high altitude adjustment, always a little tricky to get a cake just right. I will make this for my Mothers 83 birthday next week. She will love it.

  17. says

    Happy Birthday to you son GF, and oh-my, what a gorgeous cake! I’ve tried this recipe AGES ago, before I ever began blogging, and I was amazed then, though it looked nothing as gorgeous as yours! MUST try this soon. Love the cherry filling too…nom nom nom!

  18. says

    I have a bottle of maraschino cherries and have not found a recipe that I liked, to use with them, until now. Thanks for filling in the gap.

  19. says

    I have a soft spot for maraschino cherries. For some reason, they are very hard to find here. The icing sounds very interesting, I’d love to give it a go, it looks gorgeous and silky. What a treat the whole cake sounds! Happy belated birthday to the birthday boy.

  20. says

    Seriously delicious Barbara , how good is this…
    Oh if i could only have a slice too:-)
    ur son must have sure loved this! ha ha, am glad u gave in to the temptation , and now i want to , too!
    hhaaapppy day!

  21. Cristie says

    Oh, this looks delicious! I love chocolate and cherry together! The filling looks amazing, something I haven’t seen before. Very interested in this new magazine.

  22. says

    Oh my goodness but that cake looks good. This is the second chocolate cake recipe I’ve come across today through my reader and I’ve bookmarked both. Hope your son had a great birthday, I know he had a great cake!

  23. says

    This reminds me of my favorite black forest cake. I just love chocolate cherry combos. I’m not surprised that your birthday boy loved it.

  24. says

    Barbara, thanks for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment.
    This cake reminds me of the chocolate cake my mother used to make when I was a child (without the cherries). I can almost feel the taste in my mouth. This recipe is definitely going to my “to do” list. I love how you made a pool of cherries for the filling. Thanks for sharing!