Black Forest Trifles

I got the idea for these desserts from Delicieux. I served them in fancy, smaller-sized martini glasses one night and the next day made them in these small canning jars to take on a picnic.  The cake recipe is completely unchanged (other than the choice of baking sheet) from Smitten Kitchen; it is not possible to improve this recipe– its chocolatey-goodness is indescribable! The cherries and cheese mixture I improvised.

For the cake:
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups Dutch process cocoa powder (I love Valrhona)
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 T white vinegar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs

Sift together all dry ingredients (don’t skip this or else you will have undissolved cocoa nuggets in your cake). I deviate from her recipe by (from sheer laziness) just throwing all the moist ingredients except the vinegar into the dry at once and whisking this until combined well. Add the vinegar last. The cake batter will be very wet and the cake itself is very moist and wet (not a good choice if you need to do cake sculpting or otherwise manhandle the cake). Lightly oil a half-sheet pan (rimmed baking sheet) and pour in the batter. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.  Let cool completely. For easier cutting, freeze the cake for about 20 minutes before cutting into cubes (I, of course, didn’t remember to do this, but the upside was that I got to scrape the gooey cake stuff that stuck persistently to the knife and eat it).

For the cherries:
3 cups pitted, frozen sweet cherries
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup sugar (start with less and taste it after it cooks to see if you need more sugar)
3 t corn starch
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove; reduce heat and cook until thick and syrupy. It won’t take too long- maybe 15 minutes or so. If you want to jazz it up a little, you can add a tablespoon of bourbon or brandy after it is cooked. Alternatively, you can roast the cherries in a glass baking dish at 350º for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

For the cheese mixture:
250 grams mascarpone cheese (or 8 oz. if you buy American mascarpone), softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T sugar
Mix everything together.

For assembly:
I put three cubes (approximately 1 to 1 1/2″ size) of chocolate cake per martini glass (or canning jar); you can adjust this based on the size of the glass you are using. I will tell you that this amount is perfect though because the dessert is very rich.  Then add about a tablespoon (heaping, of course) of the cheese mixture and finally a spoonful of cherries with their sauce. You can make these earlier in the day or even the night before. Top with whip cream right before serving if you like- I don’t feel that the whip cream really added much so I didn’t do it the next day when I made them in the jars.
You will have lots of leftover chocolate cake; you could either make half a recipe or eat the rest plain like we did (it doesn’t even need frosting- it’s that good!).
Sorry for the vague proportions…. I have faith you can make it work….

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