My husband loves cherries, but he loves them even better when they're paired with chocolate. Fortunately, I have a cherry chocolate cake recipe that is much easier to prepare than the Chocolate Covered Cherries I made him for Valentine's Day.
Last year, a friend from grade school posted a picture of this cake on his facebook page. I could tell from the picture my husband would love the cake so I asked for the recipe. I made the cake for our anniversary and, since my husband liked it so much, made it for our anniversary again this year too.
The cake starts with a box of red velvet cake mix. If you're not familiar with red velvet cake, it's a chocolate cake similar to devil's food cake. However, red velvet uses less cocoa and gets its color from red food coloring. It's usually baked in layers and frosted with cream cheese icing.
Prepare the cake mix following the directions on the package and bake in two greased and floured round cake pans. When you bake a chocolate cake, dust the greased pans with cocoa instead of flour. The cocoa blends in with the cake and doesn't leave a white residue.
After the cake is completely cool, mix the cherry pie filling with the almond extract. Half of the pie filling mixture is combined with 1 cup Cool Whip making a beautiful pale pink filling. Spread the filling on the bottom cake layer to within 1 1/2-inches of the edge. Don't spread it all the way to the edge or it will ooze out when you add the second layer.
The second cake layer goes on top of the filling. The remaining cherries, sans Cool Whip, are put on the top cake layer to within 1 1/2-inches of the edge. This keeps the cherries from falling off, either on their own or when the cake is cut. It also leaves room for you to decorate the edge with Cool Whip before serving, if desired.
Once the cake is assembled, put it in a plastic cake keeper or on a cake plate with a lid and store it in the refrigerator. If you cover the cake with plastic wrap or foil, the cherries will get messed up. I bake the cake a day ahead of time so the cake and filling are cold when it's served.
When you're ready to serve the cake, you can decorate the cake edges with the remaining Cool Whip. Not only does this garnish the cake, it helps keep the cherries in place. If you want to dress the cake up even more, garnish each piece with sliced almonds when you serve the cake.
The red cake and pink filling make a beautiful combination. The cake is especially pretty for a baby or bridal shower, but it also makes a lovely anniversary cake. Don't wait for a special occasion to bake it; it's a good every day cake, especially when you love the combination of cherries and chocolate.