This has been on my baking bucket list for a while.
It’s fun to cook with cola. Did you know that cola makes a fantastic marinade for a hunk of beef? And it also makes a great cake ingredient. It just took me a while to get to trying the whole thing out, since we don’t keep soda in our house. More on that in a moment.
Instead of using straight-up cola for this cake, I used black cherry soda. Dr. Brown’s, to be specific. If you’ve never tried Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda, you are definitely missing out. Their cream soda is pretty amazing, too. But that’s neither here nor there. This cake, though? This cake is amazing. And the icing on top ain’t half bad, either!
Back in the day, I was a Coke fiend. Not gonna lie. If I didn’t drink soda, my thirst wasn’t quenched. Water was lacking, seltzer was gross, and unsweetened iced tea just didn’t cut it. Too bitter. As they say, though, the powers above have a sense of humor. I’ve been free of sugared beverages for several years now, and it’s been extremely educational.
To put it bluntly, I’ve waged a war in my house on sugared drinks. That might be a strange platform coming from a dessert blogger who celebrates taking extreme desserts and pushing them even further, but I reserve the right to be contradictory or even confusing, if that’s how people see it. The thing is, I can redeem ice cream. It has calcium! I can stand behind a chocolate chip cookie. Its nutritional value is pretty sparse, I grant you, but it still has the temporary benefit of assuaging hunger. And yes, I acknowledge that a handful of almonds would be healthier.
But see, you can’t cut out everything in life. If I’m not drinking my sugar, I’m going to eat it. In fact, the process of cutting sugar out of drinks lets me relax more around dessert. It also helps me feel a little better about my kids. According to modern wisdom, the epidemic of childhood obesity can partly be owed to added sugars, which appear most egregiously in sodas, juices, and sports drinks. They’re also lurking in other places, but I figure trying to do our part by encouraging mainly water and milk for our children is a start. We also eat whole wheat products and brown rice instead of white, but that’s another post for another day.
As you can imagine, when I walked in the door with Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda, Kenny was pretty surprised. He still sneaks out to drink Coke, or he orders it at restaurants. “Is that for me?” he asked, his eyes lighting up.
Lucky for him, the store was out of smaller bottles, so I had to buy a six-pack of cans. The whole recipe only calls for one and a third cups of soda, so he had leftovers to enjoy. And I enjoyed using the soda for something different. In this cake, the cola gets cooked on the stove and mixed with chocolate before being added to the batter. The resultant cake is light, fluffy, and very tall.
The icing is more of a glaze, and it’s made on the stove top, too. There’s some black cherry cola in there along with cocoa and other deliciousness. The top hardens, but when you eat the cake, it’s gooey underneath and adds more moisture to the cake. Talk about cola cake heaven!
This cake is a good candidate for a crowd, not to mention another accomplishment on my baking bucket list. It’s even worth buying soda for! In a cake, pretty much any ingredient can be justified. Why not?
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup black cherry soda (I used Dr. Brown's)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup canola oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Black Cherry Icing
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup black cherry cola
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa and baking soda. Set aside.
- Heat the black cherry cola in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla for two minutes. Gradually add the black cherry soda and chocolate mixture and beat for an additional minute until everything is smooth. Gradually add the dry ingredients, and mix until well incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven to cool.
- While the cake is cooling, make the icing .Heat the butter, cocoa, and black cherry cola in a small saucepan at low-medium heat until it boils. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Mix in the vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar.
- Pour the icing carefully over the cake evenly.
- Allow the cake to come to room temperature. The icing will harden.
- Cut into squares. Store covered.