I love clearance sales. I won’t pay a full price for anything if I can help it, and I proudly refer to myself as a crazy coupon lady. I love playing with coupon codes, combining them, and then getting a $140 dress for $40! But it’s not just dresses, shoes, and purses. When I see a yellow sale sticker at the grocery store, my eyes light up, and quite honestly, I often stop thinking. There is no other explanation of why I would otherwise come home from the store with two gallons of milk this past Friday. For my European friends, that’s 7.5 liters of cow-produced white liquid. Yes, I should probably talk to a doctor. But it was organic! And 50 % off, gosh darn it! What was I supposed to do, just leave it there?!
Not even an hour later I had a pound and a half of white cheese from said milk sitting on the counter and was left pondering what to do with it. (If you’ve never tried making your own cheese, you should absolutely give it a try. It is a very rewarding experience, and farmers’ cheese is the easiest of them all. Here is the recipe I use; for this cake you’ll need to double it). So this dessert was created by a lucky coincidence: I had the cheese, and I also picked up fresh cherries from the farmers market. The combination of vanilla and lemon scented sweet cheese and luscious cherries seemed like such a taste treat, and I added a chocolate cake base for a visual contrast. Granted, it isn’t the most sophisticated and elaborate cake I ever made, but it disappeared within a day just between my two teenagers, so I’m guessing it must’ve been good. Besides, sometimes you just need something quick and easy to satisfy the craving, and if you’re in such situation, this baby fits the bill perfectly. Honestly, the hardest part was to pit the cherries!
Run to the store and get a gallon of milk (sale sticker or not), and make it. You won’t be sorry, it’s sweet and juicy, and with the red cherry sticking out of each piece it’s also sassy and playful. A perfect forerunner of upcoming sunny days!
Chocolate Cake with Cheese and Cherries
- 250 g (9 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 250 g (9 oz.) white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 250 g (9 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 50 g (1.5 oz.) dark unsweetened cocoa powder
- 70 g (2.5 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 140 g (5 oz.) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
- 4 eggs, separated
- 90 g (3 oz.) vanilla pudding powder (or cornstarch)
- 750 g (26.5 oz.) fresh farmers cheese (you can buy it or make your own – see link at the beginning of the post)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line your half-sheet cake (11 x 15) pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- First, make the cheese filling: Cream butter with sugar and vanilla. Gradually add egg yolks, mixing well after each addition. Mix in fresh lemon zest, vanilla pudding (cornstarch), and farmers cheese. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and fold them into the cheese filling. Set the cheese filling aside.
- For the cake, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and lemon zest, and gradually add eggs, mixing well after each addition. Mix dry ingredients and add them to the butter/sugar mixture, mix just until combined. Spread the batter evenly into the lined pan.
- Cover the batter with pitted cherries. Spread the cheese filling over the cherries, covering them completely. Decorate the cake with cherries with stems so that there is one cherry in the center of each future slice.
- Bake the cake in a preheated oven for about 50 – 60 minutes until the cheese filling is almost set (it can still be a little moist), and the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool, cut into square slices and serve dusted with powdered sugar.