1 c unsweetened cocoa
2 c boiling water
2 and 3/4 c sifted all purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sweet butter, soft
2 and 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 package semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 c light cream
1 c sweet butter
2 and 1/2 c confectioners' sugar
2 c heavy cream, chilled
1/4 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 c chocolate syrup
Fresh or frozen cherries, according to season.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease well and lightly flour three 9 x 1 1/2 inch layer cake pans.
In a medium sized bowl, combine cocoa with boiling water, mixing with wire whisk until completely smooth. Let cool completely. Sift the flour with the salt, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract, scraping bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Beat until light - about 5 minutes. At low speed, beat in flour mixture (in fourths), alternating with cocoa mixture (in thirds), beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not over beat. Divide evenly into the prepared pans; smooth the tops.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Carefully loosen sides with spatula; remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
To make the frosting, combine, in a medium sized sauce pan, the chocolate pieces, the 1/4 cup light cream and the butter. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from the heat and with a wire whisk, blend in the 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar. Set the bowl in a larger bowl full of ice and beat the mixture until it holds its shape.
For the filling, melt the syrup with the 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream over low heat. Add to the remaining 1 and 3/4 cream and whip.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate, top side down. Spread with half of the filling and half of the cherries. Add the second layer, top side down; spread with the rest of the filling and the rest of the cherries. Place the third layer, top side up, on the top.
With a spatula, frost the sides of the cake first, covering completely; use the remainder of the frosting for the top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
To serve, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife and slice with a sawing motion.