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 Born to Write
 A Blog by Author Amy Hill Hearth

A Special Cake for a Book Birthday!

When you’re writing a book, the publication date seems so far in the future.

And then, suddenly, it’s here.

Today is publication day for my new novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, which I started writing 730 days (or two years) ago.

I’m relieved, ecstatic, and a little scared. Even though this is my ninth book (seven nonfiction, two novels), it’s still an emotional experience to “let go” of the book, sending it out into the world.

Good luck, little book! May you find friends wherever you go.

Okay, enough with the sentimentality. Time to have fun. Time to celebrate.

For the last few weeks I’ve been sharing recipes of food (especially desserts) that are mentioned in the book. Today I’m sharing my favorite, a cake that is to-die-for! This is a sophisticated cake, not overly sweet, and featuring cherry liqueur. The cake, popular in the 1960s in Florida, is being made (in the novel) by Mrs. Bailey White, an eccentric older lady who is one of the members of the Collier County Women’s Literary Society. Mrs. Bailey White has a scandalous past which includes a murder and a jail sentence. At heart, however, she is still a refined Southern lady.

My husband, a native of Collier County, helped me recreate this old recipe as he remembers it.

Collier County Chocolate-Covered-Cherry Cake (also known as Mrs. Bailey White’s Died and Gone to Heaven Cake)

Cake ingredients and instructions presented separately from frosting.

175 grams high-quality dark chocolate
One-third cup cherry liqueur
6 Tablespoons very strong coffee ( or espresso, if available)
One-half cup of sugar (Ideally, this should be finely-ground sugar called caster sugar. Or, you can put regular sugar through a coffee grinder, if possible.)
3 eggs, separated
One-half cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
One-third cup almond meal
One-third cup all-purpose flour, sifted.
15 ounces (or approximately two and a half cups) pitted black cherries, drained (Save juice!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9 inch spring-form cake pan.
Melt and cool butter. Set aside.
Sift flour. Set aside.
Put aside 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Separate 3 eggs. Set aside.
Melt chocolate, cherry liqueur and strong coffee in a double-boiler. There should be about two inches of water in the saucepan, simmering. Set aside. (Must cool.)
In a mixing bowl, place sugar (except for the one tablespoon set aside, as instructed above) and three egg yolks. Using electric mixer, beat until thoroughly combined. Add cooled melted butter. Combine by hand. Add almond meal. Using electric mixer, beat until thoroughly combined. Add chocolate/cherry liqueur/strong coffee mixture. Combine by hand.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar (previously set aside for this purpose) and combine thoroughly. Fold egg whites, alternating with flour, into the cake mixture.
Add half of the drained black cherries.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 35 minutes or until center is completely baked. (Test with toothpick.) Cool on wire rack.

100 grams of dark chocolate
One-quarter cup cherry juice (set aside from making cake)
One-third cup cherry liqueur
One-half cup unsalted butter, cut into small squares

Place chocolate, cherry liqueur, and cherry juice in a double-boiler filled with about two inches of water that is simmering. Slowly add butter, mixing gently. Remove from heat. Keep beating by hand until cool. Set aside. (Best to wait at least two hours before frosting the cake. Both frosting and cake should be room temperature.)
Frost the cake and add cherries to decorate. Serve at room temperature.

Special instructions: Eat while reading Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County!