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A single slice of old-fashioned chocolate cake filled with homemade cherry filling and frosted with easy chocolate icing, topped with a stemmed maraschino cherry on a white dessert plate with a silver fork.
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4.24 from 26 votes

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling

Classic Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Cherry Filling and creamy chocolate icing is easy to make with simple ingredients and equipment. Celebrate your next birthday with this festive treat!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Cakes
Servings: 12 -16 servings
Author: Barbara Schieving


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar*
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder I used [KA Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa]
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups hot water*
  • ¾ 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
  • ½ cup maraschino cherry liquid
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Glossy Chocolate Icing:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter 8 tablespoons
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules I substituted 1 teaspoon chocolate extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


To Make the Cake

  • 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 ½ teaspoons baking soda and 2 ¼ 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.)