Before we begin, if you don't know the song by The Cure. Give it a listen:
Now, the cake.
When I was 16, at exactly 10:15 on a Saturday night, that song came on the radio while I was parked in the lot of a Loaf & Jug waiting on the crazy boy I was crazy about who was inside buying a Cherry Pepsi, and thinking how cool it was that the song was playing right then. At the same time. (It's amazing what impresses teenagers.)
To this day, every time I hear the song, I think of that parking lot and that boy and how we would drive around in my car drinking Cherry Pepsi laced with cheap whiskey, me doing all of the driving and he doing (almost) all of the drinking. Now, that makes it sound like I was a responsible teen, but really I was just the one with the car and he didn't have a license (sorry Mom).
One of my long-term personal projects is This Is What My Memories Taste Like, wherein I interpret memories through cake. Kinda wacky, I know, but it's awfully fun trying to figure it all out. Sort of chosen synesthesia.
The idea for the cake itself (Chocolate Cherry Pepsi with a Whiskey Caramel-ish Sauce) came easily enough, but how to incorporate the song? Had to think on that one. I really wanted the drip drip drip but, as portable leaky faucets are not really a thing, I decided to try out another high school standard: lab equipment. I think it worked out rather nicely:
Chocolate Cherry Pepsi Layer Cake with Whiskey Caramel(ish) Sauce
Preheat oven to 350°; prepare three 8" round cake pans
For the cake:
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (64 grams) cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup (240 grams) sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (112 grams) neutral oil
1 1/2 cups (330 grams) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (240 grams) Cherry Pepsi
For the Caramel(ish) Sauce:
1 stick (226 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (220 grams) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons (45 grams) whiskey, baker's choice
To serve: Whipped Cream and Cherry Jam
To make the cake: In a medium-sized bowl, sift or thoroughly whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and eggs until very well combined. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until incorporated. Whisk in the Cherry Pepsi.
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cakes start pulling away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean.
Set the pans on racks to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans to cool completely.
To make the sauce: Stir together all of the ingredients except for the whiskey in a saucepan set over medium heat. Let gently bubble about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and carefully stir in the whiskey. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
To knock up the cherry flavor a bit, I spread 1/4 cup good cherry jam between each layer and then sparingly filled and speckled with unsweetened whipped cream.
Serve the slices with the sauce on the side; spoon it on or use lab equipment about let it drip drip drip drip drip drip drip drip.