This quick-to-make moist, fudgy, dairy-free chocolatey cake is loaded with fresh cherries and chocolate chips. It tastes incredible and requires no special equipment to make!
Chocolate and cherry is an interesting combination; some hate it, and some love it. As you probably guessed, I’m a member of the latter group. I love the twist of cherries in this cake, and the addition of chocolate chips makes it absolutely irresistible!
How to make chocolate cherry cake
- Start by mixing the cocoa powder with hot water. This step helps to deepen the chocolate flavor and make the cake fudgier. Let it cool just slightly until warm.
- Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Mix together the wet ingredients. Whisk together eggs, oil, vanilla extract, and water-cocoa mixture.
- Combine together. Add egg mixture into flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Do not overmix—the less you mix, the lighter the cake will be.
- In a small bowl toss cherries with 2 teaspoons flour in order to prevent cherries from sinking during baking.
- Add cherries and chocolate chips to cake batter and fold just until combined.
- Bake. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350°F/180°C or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (repeat testing if your toothpick runs into a cherry). Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
Note: I used oil to keep the cake moist for longer, but you can replace half of it with 50g of melted unsalted butter for flavor if you prefer. However, this cake is already so flavorful that I don’t find it necessary.
What kind of cherries should I use?
Different kinds of cherries work well, and I especially love how sour cherries taste with the chocolate. Fresh cherries are the best option, but you could also use frozen. If so, use them straight from the freezer, without thawing, mixing them with some flour and then immediately folding them into the batter. Canned cherries can also be used as long as you make sure to drain them well and dry them with paper towels, or else the juices will seep into the cake and affect its texture and taste.
Tips for making chocolate cherry cake
- Top the cake with chocolate ganache. To make the cake extra rich, top it with chocolate ganache once it has cooled.
- This cake tastes best a day after it’s made. After a day, the chocolate cake has had time to absorb the cherry flavor, so it’s a good make-ahead cake. However, it still tastes amazing on that first day, so feel free to dig in on the first chance you get.
- To make a bigger batch, multiply the recipe by 1.5 and use a 13×9-inch pan. You may need to bake the cake a few minutes longer.
- This cake is also delicious as muffins! For chocolate cherry muffins, fill muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full and bake for 13-20 minutes at 350°F/180°C.
More of my favorite cakes
- Chocolate Nutella Cake: Made with rich and creamy Nutella and milk chocolate chunks.
- Mom’s Honey Cake: Bursting with honey flavor and warm, autumn spices.
- Lemon Bundt Cake: Topped with lemon syrup and sticky lemon glaze.
- Poppy Seed Cake: Made with fresh orange juice, orange zest, and shredded coconut, this is not your typical poppy seed cake.
- Strawberry Champagne Cake: Light and delicate vanilla sponge cake soaked in champagne syrup, layered with strawberry jam and whipped champagne mascarpone cream.
An incredibly rich, moist, and dairy-free chocolate cake made with juicy cherries. The flavors are unbelievable and no special equipment is required! Top it with chocolate ganache and you'll be in chocolate cake heaven.
- 1 cup (240 ml) hot water
- 1/3 cup (30g) cocoa powder
- 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil**
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (230g/8 oz) fresh cherries, pitted and halved (for other options, read above post)***
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C and grease an 8×8-inch pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together hot water and cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to let cool slightly until warm.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In another medium bowl, mix together eggs, oil, vanilla extract, and water-cocoa mixture. Add egg mixture into flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Do not overmix—the less you mix, the lighter the cake will be.
In a small bowl toss cherries with 2 teaspoons flour in order to prevent cherries from sinking during baking. Add cherries and chocolate chips to cake batter and fold just until combined.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (repeat testing if your toothpick runs into a cherry). Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
Dust the top with powdered sugar or top with chocolate ganache. Serve at room temperature.
Cake can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
*To make a bigger cake, multiply the recipe by 1.5 and use a 13×9-inch pan. You may need to bake the cake a few minutes longer.
**I used oil to keep the cake moist for longer, but you can replace half of it with 50g melted butter for flavor if you prefer. However, this cake is already so flavorful that I don’t find it necessary.
***Fresh sour cherries are my favorite option, but you can use any type of fresh cherries you like as well as frozen or canned. If using frozen, use them straight from the freezer, without thawing, mixing them with some flour and then immediately folding them into the batter. Canned cherries can also be used as long as you make sure to drain them well and dry them with paper towels, or else the juices will seep into the cake and affect its texture and taste.
Claudia | The Brick KitchenNovember 15, 2015 at 3:00 am
Ooh I am definitely a chocolate-cherry fan! Your cake is so gorgeously dark here, and those studded cherries?! Yum! <3
ShiranNovember 16, 2015 at 2:45 am
Thank you, Claudia!
Dairy-Free-Diet.comJanuary 7, 2016 at 4:30 am
Dear Shiran, what should be the consistency of this cake? Pouring or thick? Please inform us 🙂 Thank you!
ShiranJanuary 7, 2016 at 10:00 am
I’d say it’s something in between. It’s more liquid than thick because of the warm water.
NancyOctober 18, 2016 at 11:30 am
I used frozen cherries. Maybe this lowered the temp of the batter? I baked a total of 1 hr. Turned out OK.
ShiranOctober 19, 2016 at 5:48 am
Hi Nancy, yes, the baking time may need to be extended when using frozen fruit. Also, if you opened the oven door several times to check the cake, that lowers the oven temperature and can be another reason for taking it longer to bake.
JennyDecember 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm
Done it and loved it!
Now Im trying it with chocochips and dulce de leche (like caramel) instead of cherrys.
ShiranDecember 5, 2016 at 2:32 pm
Thank you so much Jenny!
ronaJanuary 15, 2017 at 1:18 am
Hi shiran! Do you have a recipe for blackforest cake?
JohnFebruary 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm
So it’s dairy free but uses chocolate chips?
ShiranFebruary 12, 2017 at 3:00 am
Hi John, chocolate can be dairy free, mostly those with a high cocoa percentage (70%). You can also leave that out.
BenJune 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm
Hi Shiran, thanks for the wonderful recipe! I used baking powder, and it’s in the oven now so we’ll see!
ShiranJune 13, 2017 at 6:13 am
Cristi LandesDecember 26, 2017 at 5:12 pm
This sounds awesome! Is it dense enough to hold up under fondant decorating? Thanks so much
ShiranDecember 26, 2017 at 5:33 pm
It should be OK!
Deborah NemitzFebruary 14, 2018 at 9:58 am
So it’s supposed to be powder not soda?
ShiranFebruary 14, 2018 at 10:26 am
It’s baking powder, sorry for the confusion!
ErinApril 25, 2018 at 1:32 pm
Yummy! I made muffins using with jarred sour cherries. Great recipe.
SheilaApril 29, 2018 at 12:46 am
This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it.. If I bake the cake a couple of days before serving it, should I frost right away with chocolate ganache and refrigerate, or wait until day of serving to frost? Thank you so much!
ShiranApril 29, 2018 at 9:16 am
Both options are OK!
TirzahJanuary 9, 2019 at 6:11 am
Omg! Best cake!
Laurie kindAugust 6, 2022 at 8:59 am
Needed a full hour to bake!
KarenJune 9, 2019 at 4:35 pm
5 stars for this! I used half melted butter and half oil as per your suggestion. Cake is light, moist and absolutely delicious. Made it with fresh cherries and topped it with your simple ganache recipe. Thank you for creating this!
SharonJune 20, 2020 at 1:00 am
Very good recipe. Irresistible. I’ve made it several times now by popular demand. Frozen berries definitely need the flour and a bit more cooking time. Thanks!
KristineJuly 13, 2020 at 4:06 pm
I doubled the recipe and made a bundt cake.
It was fabulous!!
Adrianne GrayFebruary 13, 2021 at 5:12 pm
I made this using frozen cherries and it was superb. I have cut it into quarters to give to my children for Valentine. They absolutely loved it. It is so moist and tasty. I even did my own chocolate fudge topping on it. Thank you so much for a lovely tasty treat.
HilaryMarch 23, 2022 at 4:35 am
I didn’t have half of the ingredients so had to improvise. I did have a jar of morello cherries, a craving for cake and the determination to make it work. I used the syrup from the cherries in place of warm water and just warmed it in the microwave -because I used the syrup and also hot chocolate powder instead of cocoa, I halved the sugar. This recipe was incredibly easy to make, used simple ingredients and if the batter I ate out of the bowl is anything to go by, the cake is going to be delicious; I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing