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A recipe that comes highly recommended

One of the pages that is referenced frequently from Huffington Post is the blog called Food52.com. They publish a lot of good recipes, and I am bringing one to you for a chocolate cake, for two reasons.

The first reason is that it comes recommended as a favorite of many readers and is also the favorite of one of the Food52 regulars. The second reason is that if you would like to vary it, you can change the jelly or preserves that you add to it for the Black-Forest-type fruit and chocolate combination.

If I were thinking about making that change, my first idea would be orange marmalade, which I buy at Cost Plus World Market in Tucson. There you can find some amazing imported foodstuffs, such as their Lifeboat Tea, a delicious tea blend that goes to benefit England's Lifeboat Society, a volunteer organization that watches the English coastline for shipwrecks and seeks to save victims. They also have an interesting feature that enables you to select from many single-serving-type food items and create your own personalized gift basket.

But if you do like the German influence on chocolate cake, go right ahead and find some sour cherry preserves. I'd look at Sprouts or Whole Foods first, because they have a respectable selection of hard-to-find jams, jellies and preserves. If the idea of "sour" cherries turns you off, you can always use regular red cherry preserves or even black cherry preserves, which are always the sweetest of the cherry family.

SAM'S FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CAKE

From Food52.com

Ingredients:

3/4 cup cocoa
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups flour
2 scant teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup good quality sour cherry jam or sweetened if you like it

Preheat oven to 350° F. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Place the cocoa and 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Stir until all the chocolate is melted. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.

Alternate mixing in the dry ingredients and the melted chocolate mixture. Do not over mix. Pour batter into two 9-inch cake pans and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.

To make the frosting, pour the cream into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir in the 8 ounces of chocolate. Whisk until smooth and shiny.

Place the jam in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until it loosens enough to pour it over the cake. When the cakes are done and cooled invert one on to a plate and spread the cherry jam over it. I find it better to spread the jam over the "bottom" of the cake since it is always flat. Place the other cake layer on top and pour the frosting over the whole thing. Decorate with whipped cream and cherries to reinforce the "Black Forest" mood of the cake.

When you get to the point of heating up the jam, you could loosen it up with heat and then transfer it quickly to a food processor, or get out your immersion blender and break the fruit up. This isn't crucial in soft fruit like cherries, but orange marmalade would benefit from the breaking up of those shreds of orange peel.

Whatever fruit you use in the cake would also suggest decoration themes, from whole cherries to candied orange peel and whipped cream.

If you choose not to use fruit and go with the pure chocolate flavor, you could also pour a caramel sauce over the cake in place of jam. That would be delicious as well.