Cherry Chambord iced chocolate cake makes Valentine’s Day darkly delicious

Gourmandistan is not a nation inclined to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead of an excuse to exchange candy, flowers or cards, we generally see February 14th as the midpoint of the most miserable month of the year. Left alone during a recent snow day demonstration of February’s disheartening weather, Michelle combined chocolate, coffee, cherry and Chambord, creating this delightful cake with pink-hued icing, a moist crumb and layers of rich chocolate ganache. While inspiration came from Ina Garten and Shirley Corriher, Michelle used some of her own techniques and added more coffee to the cake layers for deeper flavor.

Steve, who knows better than to believe Michelle made him something for Valentine’s Day, nonetheless declared this cake suitable for the occasion. And indeed, the cake did fill several people with pleasurably sweet thoughts. So despite our best efforts to ignore it, Gourmandistan managed to make this Valentine’s Day something memorable. Enjoy it, everybody!


  • Servings: one 8-inch layer cake
  • Print

(cake adapted from Ina Garten via Food Network/filling adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours/icing adapted from Shirley O. Corriher’s BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking)


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk, shaken (if your buttermilk is of the low-fat variety, add a little sour cream to the mix)
  • 1/2 c. neutral oil
  • 2 or 3 eggs, depending on size, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. freshly brewed espresso (or hot water mixed with 1 generous TB instant espresso powder)

Preheat the oven to 350° F with rack in the center. Butter two 8 x 3” round cake pans. Line with waxed or parchment paper, then butter the tops of the paper and flour the pans.

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed with paddle attachment until combined.

In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients. Then, with the mixer still at low speed, add the coffee and stir just to combine. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Once cooled, slice each layer in half using a serrated knife.


  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1 c. + 2 TB heavy cream
  • 4 TB butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

Heat cream to a boil. Pour half of it over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Stir with a spatula until incorporated. Add remaining cream and stir. When cream is incorporated, add butter and stir more until smooth and shiny.

Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until ganache reaches spreading consistency. Spread 1/3 of the ganache between each of the four layers of cooled cake.


  • 1/2 c. good cherry preserves or jam
  • 3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) soft unsalted butter
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 TB Chambord (black raspberry) liqueur

Whir the cherry preserves in a mini food processor until relatively smooth.

Cream butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until mixed in. Then, add preserves and Chambord and beat until mixed. If too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Ice the cake.


  1. lovely cake….it interests me as to why you use ordinary flour, baking powder and baking soda. Why not use flour with levure chimique in the flour ( or equivalent)? ….and I think baking powder contains baking soda…..I’m not technician, but the cake looks so good which makes me think I should be doing this.

    • I often do wonder why what we call self-rising flour isn’t used more in the States. I know British cake recipes more often that not call for “self-raising” flour. People in our part of the country, including me, use it for biscuits (you know, American biscuits, which are more like scones). I often think how much easier it would be to just use it — but almost all American recipes are this way and I’m always uncertain whether the ratio in the self-rising flour is the same as in the recipe. Make sense?

        • It gets a little too science-y, but: I understand levure chimique (which we generally don’t have here) is single-acting whereas American baking powder is double-acting. Aargh, this is why I don’t experiment much in baking. I tend to lose focus on these things…

      • I actually prefer using plain flour and then add the required leavening agent: I think it is much more precise….I use self-raising flour just for scones (actually, just for a specific recipe)/

  2. I am always impressed by the way you mix and match sources.
    impressive cake for sure. It is interesting to see how different cultures have really different tastes: I see that (for me) a whopping 2 cups of sugar are used here (400 g) to 2 or 3 eggs, which for my Italian palate/mind sounds really strange + BUT THEN, my Italian palate would not blink at using litres of oil to deep fry endless things, as I have been doing lately
    – the amazing richness of differences

    • Yeah, definitely interesting. And you’re right: 2 cups is a lot of sugar. But there’s a lot of stuff to balance it (the bitter coffee, the sour buttermilk). Keep frying!

  3. wow wow and wow. chocolate, cherry, and raspberry. And such a pretty cake. It’s funny, whenever my mother made anything chocolate, like a mousse, she always added some coffee in some form. Doesn’t it just enhance flavors?!!

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