Growing up, I remember visiting relatives who lived on this massive farm. At least to a young kid, it seemed like the farm was so huge that it could have been a country all to its own. The one thing I remember most from those visits was the fun I had climbing a cherry tree in the back yard.
Not being much of an outdoorsman at age 10, I was proud that I could climb the tree on my own and hold court among the cherry blossoms. I thoroughly enjoyed picking fresh cherries from the tree and savoring their natural sweetness.
I’m sure if I had actually lived on that farm, I would have had the daily chore of cleaning up fallen cherries off the ground. And that might have ruined what was to become my life long love affair with cherries.
To this day, I love anything with dark, sweet cherries. So when cherries are at their peak, I get swept away walking through the produce aisles at the grocery store. Just luck at these cherries! Can you blame me? I actually bought a bag of sweet, dark Bing cherries and some Ranier cherries. I washed and pitted the cherries, freezing the Ranier cherries for a recipe on another day. I decided to macerate the Bing cherries in some Captain Morgan® 1671 rum. It’s a new, limited edition rum blend that commemorates Captain Morgan’s last flag ship, The Satisfaction. This Caribbean rum has aromas of sweet oak and dark fruit – with hints of chocolate. That makes it perfect for this olive oil cake with Bing cherries and dark chocolate chips. Macerating is just like marinating. I took a canning jar and filled it with pitted Bing cherries. Then I topped it off with Captain Morgan 1671 Rum. I let cherries soak for a few hours, but you could also let it soak overnight in the refrigerator. Just don’t throw out the rum after the cherries are done macerating! By itself it makes for a nice sipping companion while you’re baking – or a great addition to an ice cold Diet Coke. This batter is quite thick, so use a sturdy spatula or spoon when you start to incorporate the chocolate chips. You could also mix the Bing cherries into the batter, but I prefer to layer them evenly on the batter to ensure nearly every bite of this rich cake has a burst of rum-infused cherry in it.
I wonder what cherry-inspired desserts Martha Washington made for George? This cake is definitely good enough for even the most presidential guests at your dinner table. I like to serve this cake while it’s still warm. The chocolate, cherries and rum make for a seriously decadent flavor combination. Fresh Bing cherries and Caribbean spiced rum. Now that’s what summer should taste like!
In a resealable container, soak Bing cherries in 1 cup of rum. Let cherries macerate for at least a few hours, and up to 24 hours.
Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly coat a 9" round cake pan with butter; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar for a few minutes, letting air incorporate into the mixture. Add vanilla, olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until combined; batter will be thick. With a spatula, stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.
Pour half of the batter into your prepared baking pan. Spread about 2 cups of cherries evenly. Save 1/2 cup of macerated cherries for a garnish. Spoon remaining batter over cherries; it's okay if the fruit peeks through the batter.
Bake until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes in a convection oven. If you use a non-convection oven, baking time will take a bit longer.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from cake pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Cut cake and serve with reserved Bing cherries as garnish. Put remaining chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; heat on HIGH for 60 to 90 seconds or until melting process has just started. Remove from microwave and stir with teaspoon until completely melted. Drizzle warm chocolate over slices and Bing cherry garnish; serve immediately.
Disclosure: I was given a free sample of Captain Morgan® 1671 Commemorative Blend to review. I get no additional benefits for talking about this product or company. All opinions about this product are 100% my own.