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!

Yield: 12-16 servings

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 350º with rack in the center. Spray two 9x2 inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. (Don't use a mixer.)
  3. 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.
  4. Divide batter between pans, then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
  5. 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

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

Glossy Chocolate Icing:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, and salt. (Mixture will be thick and grainy.)
  2. 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.
  3. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch, 6 - 8 minutes. Do not boil.
  4. 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.)