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Close up of chocolate cherry dump cake serving in a white bowl.

Cherry Chocolate Dump Cake

Few ingredients and minimal work make this dump cake an easy dessert for many occasions. You can make it more or less from scratch, with only store-bought components or a quick homemade filling. The combination of flavors is wonderful and it's ready in an hour. It's also known as black forest dump cake.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

Units

For the cherry layer:

  • 2 cans (21 ounces each) cherry pie filling

OR make it from scratch

  • 2 pounds pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • Dash of ground cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

For the cake layer:

  • 3 cups (about 3/4 of an 18 oz box) chocolate cake mix
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, cold (see Notes, below for a melted butter variation)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
  2. Have ready an 8x11 inch oven dish (ceramic or glass).
  3. If using store-bought cherry pie filling you only have to open the cans and dump them in the dish, spreading to cover the whole dish. 

Filling from scratch:

  1. Mix cherries with sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl. 
  2. Add the cornstarch dissolved in the orange juice, stir to combine, and dump the cherry mixture into the prepared dish. 

To assemble:

  1. Add the chocolate cake mix with a spoon, making sure it covers all the cherries. 
  2. Smooth slightly but don't mix. We just want to flatten it a little so the butter slices are easier to arrange. 
  3. Cut the butter into very thin slices and arrange them on top of the cake mix. You should cover most of it so that when it melts in the oven all (or most) of the cake mix is moistened. 
  4. Alternatively, melt the butter and pour it over the chocolate cake mix in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon until you have a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle it over the cherry filling. 
  5. Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes and check by lifting here and there the chocolate top and, if there are very dry spots, mix it a bit with the juices in the bottom. Otherwise, they might never moisten. 
  6. Bake for 15 minutes more (1 hour in total) until the top is dry and the filling bubbles around the edges. 
  7. Serve warm plain, with whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
  8. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. You can also freeze them, well covered or in an airtight container. Defrost at room temperature. 

Notes

Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!

Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust. 

What type of cake can you use? Any type of chocolate cake you like. A favorite of mine is devil’s food cake mix because it has a rich chocolate flavor. But any chocolate mix will do. 

Serving it: warm and a la mode (that means with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top) might makes this the easiest chocolate dessert that you won't forget easily. But warm and plain is still amazing. Or serve it with whipped cream for a black forest dump cake, which for me, is a perfect combination of flavors.

Variations: use pure almond extract in the filling, or mix in some maraschino cherries for a different touch. A brownie mix can also work and can render something with an extra fudgy feeling to it.

Sweetness: the cake mix has sugar, but if you're into very sweet desserts, you can use up to 1/2 cup of sugar for the filling. 

Melted butter topping: there is another way to make the topping for this dump cake, and I think it's even easier. Simply melt the butter and mix it with the cake mix in a bowl. It will be somewhat crumbly and slightly wet with some dry spots. It's how we make the cherry dump cake recipe. I find that this method makes for a crunchier topping. 

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8
  • Calories: 386
  • Sugar: 39.5 g
  • Sodium: 347.1 mg
  • Fat: 15.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 63.5 g
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 3.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 30.5 mg

Keywords: chocolate cherry dump cake