I read somewhere that cherry trees can be harvested in about eight seconds. This Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake doesn’t last much longer than that in my house. Moist chocolate cake with bright pops of sweet cherries make the perfect treat to end any meal or satisfy a late-night sweet tooth.
Cherries are one of my favorite fruits to use in cooking because they work equally well in sweet dishes like my Beautiful Cherry Slab Pie and savory dishes like this Fresh Cherry Vinaigrette. They’re so versatile that something like Simple Fresh Roasted Cherries, which can top off ice cream or a roast pork loin, can be used for both! Combine the tart, juicy chunks with chocolate, and, well, you have a winning dessert combo.
What Makes This Recipe Work?
You can add the “wow” factor to just about any cake recipe simply by using a bundt pan. One of my favorites, the Nordic Ware bundt pan, was the first aluminum bundt-style pan invented, and it’s still popular, even with professional bakers, thanks to its consistent results.
While you can use this specialty pan to make almost any cake a centerpiece - a whole wheat pound cake, my Lemon Kamut Pound Cake, or even a cake mix - I promise this bundt cake tastes even better than it looks! My recipe combines two types of chocolate with fresh cherries, as well as an almond extract to add another layer of flavor and aroma to the cake.
Although I use whole grains in the form of whole wheat pastry flour, no one will be able to tell thanks to the other ingredients that keep this cake moist and ensure the perfect crumb and stellar flavor.
The bonus is that, even though the flavors are wonderfully complex, the cake comes together quickly so it requires minimal effort for maximum results.
- Butter- Take this out of the refrigerator to soften for about an hour before making the cake. Using softened butter helps distribute the fats equally throughout the batter.
- Canola oil– You can substitute another neutral oil such as vegetable or light olive oil.
- Brown sugar- Brown sugar in baking adds depth and richness.
- Granulated sugar- The blend of brown and granulated sugars creates the perfect sweetness and texture.
- Eggs- Size does matter here, so be sure to use large eggs. These add structure and flavor to the cake.
- Vanilla- Pure vanilla is what I always use.
- All-purpose flour- Note that I use a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flour to keep the cake texture balanced.
- Whole wheat flour- I prefer whole wheat pastry flour for my cakes. It’s a low-protein flour that helps keep the cake as tender as the less healthy version.
- Cocoa powder- My favorite is Hershey’s special dark.
- Baking soda and powder- The combination of the two leavenings gives this cake the best lift.
- Salt- It doesn’t take much, but it is necessary. I prefer using kosher salt for its milder flavor.
- Sour cream- This is another “must-have” ingredient for the bundt cake to make sure it has a delicate, tender crumb.
- Chocolate chips- I used dark chocolate chunks, but you can also use milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- Chopped cherries- Fresh cherries are in season right now, so that’s what I used (see below for other options). Be sure to wash, pit, and chop.
- Almond extract- Almond and cherry is such a classic flavor combination, and it’s perfect in this cake.
- Heavy cream or whipping cream- Use this for a light, fluffy topping to complement the rich chocolate.
- Powdered sugar- My favorite sweetener.
- Unflavored gelatin- Used to stabilize the heavy cream.
- Whole cherries- Used for decoration.
How to Make
- Prepare your bundt pan.
- Start by mixing together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a bowl, then set aside. Using a whisk for this step will eliminate lumps in the cocoa. You can also sift the ingredients together.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the softened butter, oil, and both sugars. Mix well with a hand or stand mixer. This step can also be done by hand.
- Add in the eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and almond extract. Mix well. The addition of almond extract here makes the cake extra special, but you can omit it if you don’t have any and just use a little extra vanilla.
- Next, slowly add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Overmixing can make the cake tough.
- Gently fold in the chopped cherries and chocolate chips, again being careful not to overmix.
- Pour into the prepared baking pan, making sure to smooth out the top. You can tap the cake a couple of times on the counter to make sure any bubbles come to the top.
- Bake for 50-65 minutes in preheated oven.
- Remove from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, then turn it out onto your rack to cool completely.
- If you’re decorating the top the way I did, proceed with the next two steps once the cake is cool.
- Whip your whipping cream. the whipped cream so it will hold its shape and be more pipeable.
- Top with the whipped cream and cherries.
Tips for Making This Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake
- I used a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flours for this recipe. If you’d prefer to make this with only all-purpose flour, you can. Just use 1 ½ cups of all-purpose. Make sure the cake is baked for at least 55 minutes, though.
- If you want to use only whole wheat pastry flour, use 1 ½ cups but underbake it just slightly. Whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture, particularly when it bakes, so it’s important not to overbake. I don’t bake my whole wheat version for more than 50-53 minutes.
- The cake will also continue to bake after it’s removed from the oven in a process called carry-over cooking. The residual heat in the baked good and pan will continue the baking process.
- If you want a stronger cherry flavor, add 1 teaspoon of cherry extract. The cherry flavor in the cake as it is is pretty mild.
- Topping Options: I used stabilized whipped cream along with fresh cherries to finish off this cake. To make it even more decadent, add some chocolate curls, grated chocolate, or even a few leftover chocolate chips to the top.
- Chocoholics can replace the whipped cream topping with a simple chocolate ganache (like the one I use to top my Dark Chocolate Orange Brownies). You can mix in a splash of cherry brandy or cherry extract to add a pop of flavor to the chocolate.
As written with the whipped cream topping, this cake needs to be refrigerated. If you want to bake the cake a day ahead, you can leave the cake on the counter overnight and just top it with the whipped cream right before serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
Almost any cherries will work in baking. The key is making sure there is no extra moisture to mess with the wet-to-dry ratio in the recipe. I personally prefer the flavor of fresh sweet cherries, so I use those when they’re in season.
The next best thing would be frozen cherries that have been thawed and patted dry. You can also use an equal amount of maraschino cherries (also patted dry) or 1 ½ cups of dried cherries. Tart cherries are also a really great option.
Whatever cherries you use, making a Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake from scratch is time well spent. This recipe is a perfect example of ways to increase the whole grains in your diet without sacrificing a thing. Shhhhh . . . I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.
The perfection is in the pan! Whether you use a traditional or a loaf-shaped pan like I did, you’ll want to spend a little time making sure it’s prepared well. After patiently waiting for your cake to cook and cool, you don’t want to flip out your masterpiece only to find it stuck to the pan.
Start by greasing the pan liberally with melted butter, being sure to coat every inch. A pastry brush is helpful here. Next, sprinkle in some flour and shake the pan around to cover. I use about 3 tablespoons for a bundt pan. Tip: You can whisk a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder into the flour before coating your pan so it blends in with the dark color of the cake instead of leaving light-colored coating spots.
Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour plus another 1-2 tablespoons more for brushing the pan with.
- ½ cup whole wheat flour I prefer using whole wheat pastry flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup softened butter plus about 1-2 tablespoons more for brushing the pan with.
- ½ cup canola oil or other neutral oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ¾ cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped cherries
- 1 ½-2 cups whipped cream You can use whipped topping, or I will also show below how to make stabilized whipped cream that I used.
- 1 ½ cups whole cherries for topping
Stabilized whipped topping
- 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- Read instructions all the way through before starting.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter and butter the pan. Sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of flour and tap it around until the whole inside is coated. Set the pan aside.
- Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda together in a small bowl and set this aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the butter, oil, and brown sugar. Mix with a hand or stand mixer for 2-3 minutes.
- Next in are the eggs, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and almond extract. Only mix these until they are combined.
- Pour in your flour mixture and mix this only until it is combined as well. If you overmix, you will wind up with a tough cake, so only much as needed.
- Last are the chopped cherries and chocolate chips. Fold these in and pour the batter into your prepared pan.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for at least 50 minutes. As with almost any whole wheat baked good, you want to underbake JUST SLIGHTLY. This is because whole wheat flours absorb more moisture. If you bake until it is perfectly done, it will continue to cook and dry out.
- My cake took 55 minutes. You can use touch or a toothpick for testing. With the toothpick, don't test until 55 minutes are up. You don't want it to come out completely dry, but mostly. With touch, you want to have just the VERY center feel slightly underbaked and kind of soft.
- Once it is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 5-7 minutes in the pan. Then, very gently remove it from the pan. If it is buttered and floured, you should be able to loosen it just a touch, then turn it out onto a cooling rack.
- Let this cool all the way before topping.
- Once it has cooled, top with your whipped topping. If you are doing the stabilized whipped cream as I did, add the water and gelatin to a small microwave-safe bowl.
- Start whipping your cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. When it is starting to thicken up, microwave the gelatin to soften it again. It will only take a few seconds, like 3-6 seconds.
- Pour this into your whipped cream while you are mixing it.
- Continue to mix on high until the cream has thickened all the way.
- Top the cake with the whipped topping, then add the whole cherries on top for decoration.