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Happy 100th Birthday, Cheerwine! In honor of their Centennial, I give you the Cheerwine Layer Cake with Easy Cheerwine Marshmallow Buttercream. Birthdays just got a bit Cheer(wine)ier!
My memories are flavored with Cheerwine.
I grew up in Charlotte, NC, just an hour or so away from the home of Cheerwine (and of Food Lion, too), Salisbury, NC.
How to describe Cheerwine?
Dark, sweet, cherry soda.
The flavor of lazy days swimming at the lake, of long nights full of bright stars, the golden flicker of lightning bugs, and the full-throated pulsating buzz of cicadas. Of playing Flashlight in a neighborhood so dark you could hide just by lying down flat in a low place in the yard.
Trust me, you want this flavor in your cake.
First, I didn’t want the beautiful flavor and color of Cheerwine to get lost in a chocolate cake. I wanted an unabashedly pink, layered beauty that could easily serve as a birthday cake, a Mother’s Day cake, or even a bridal shower cake. Elegant yet easy.
In order to inject the cake with as much Cheerwine flavor as I could, I reduced two 12-ounce bottles of Cheerwine down to 2 ounces of thick, syrupy, concentrated cherry flavor. That was my “extract” and coloring agent in both the cake and the frosting. Secret weapon number two was freeze-dried sour cherries. Tart and tangy and super cherry-y, I whirred an ounce of them into dust and blended them into my cake batter. Extra color, and extra flavor. Yes.
And now you know.
Want to make a Cheerwine layer Cake? Let’s shop first for what we will need.
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These are my product recommendations for making this girly pink and deeply cheery cherry Cheerwine Layer Cake. Thank you for supporting PCO by shopping through my affiliate links. If you cannot find Cheerwine in your area and don’t want to order it, please use your favorite cherry soda instead. The procedure will be the same even if the flavor isn’t exact.
Okay, ready? Let’s make our cake.
Cheerwine Layer Cake with Easy Cheerwine Marshmallow Buttercream
This guy starts with a basic white cake. I started with this white cake recipe from Southern Living. White cake is generally a bit drier than yellow cake since it misses out on the extra fat and emulsifiers present in egg yolks. I compensated for this a bit by using some extra liquid. Also, since the freeze dried cherries slurp up liquid, there’s even more in there to compensate for that. Lot’s of compensating going on here! Last one: since the Cheerwine is very sweet, I cut back on the amount of sugar in the cake.
Please note I made this cake with a limited edition all cane sugar version of Cheerwine. I would guess it would work as well using the standard soda made with high fructose corn syrup, but I haven’t tried that.
Okay, let’s go.
For The Cheerwine Extract
- 2 12 ounce bottles or cans of Cheerwine, cane sugar recipe preferred
For the Cake
- 12.5 ounces cake flour, about 3 cups, stirred, spooned, and leveled
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cool room temperature, 8 ounces
- 12 ounces granulated sugar, scant 1 1/2 cups
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon Cheerwine extract
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 ounce freeze-dried cherries, whirred into dust and sifted to get out any larger bits
- 10 ounces Cheerwine soda
For the Buttercream*
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 7 ounce jars marshmallow fluff, 10 1/2 ounces
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 Tablespoons Cheerwine extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 Tablespoon milk, optional
For the Cheerwine Extract
- Have a 1 cup glass measure convenient to the stove.
- Pour the soda into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring it to a boil.
- As the soda reduces, occasionally pour it into the measuring cup to see how much you have. Stop reducing when you get down to 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces).
- Remove from the heat and pour into a small container. Cool to room temperature. Cover until needed.
For the Cheerwine Layer Cake
- Spray 3 6" pans with pan spray and line the bottoms with parchment rounds. Set aside.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350F.
- Whisk together the cake flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
- Add the sugar, sea salt and vanilla and cream until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Thoroughly beat in the Cheerwine extract.
- Add the egg whites, a bit at a time, until all incorporated. Scrape the bowl as necessary. This step should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Beat in the powdered freeze-dried cherries. It may clump up some upon sitting, so break it up and whisk it well before adding it.
- Alternate adding in the flour mixture and the 10 ounces of Cheerwine. Add the flour in 3 additions and the Cheerwine in two. Beat for about 10 seconds between additions, and scrape the bowl as necessary. When all the flour and Cheerwine is in, beat on high speed for 2-3 seconds.
- Weigh the batter and divide by three. This is important, because the batter will rise to the very top of the 6" x 2" cake pans and the dome will be even higher than that. I didn't trust myself to eyeball thirds, and you shouldn't either, because you don't want a mess to clean up.
- Add 1/3 of the batter to each of the pans, and smooth the tops. Place on a non-warping half sheet pan and bake until well-risen and at 195F internal temperature. The cake should just be pulling away from the sides of the pans a tiny bit and the tops will spring back when you lightly press them. You may have to rotate the sheet pan after about 30 minutes if your cakes are browning unevenly. Once they get to be a light golden brown on top, cover loosely with foil and turn the oven down to 325F to finish baking through, an additional 10-20 minutes depending on your oven.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of the pans to make sure the sides have released and then turn out on cooling racks to cool completely.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. This will make it easier to slice off the domes and stack the cake.
For the Buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a heavier-duty hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
- Add the marshmallow fluff and salt and whip on high until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Slowly beat in the powdered sugar and Cheerwine extract.
- If you're planning on making the rose decoration on top of your cake, portion out about 1/3 of the frosting and beat in a Tablespoon or two of milk into that third to get it to a more "pipe-able" consistency.
To Fill, Frost, and Decorate
- Remove cakes from the fridge and unwrap. Carefully use a cake leveler or a long, serrated blade to evenly cut the domes off the cakes.
- Place a tablespoon or so of frosting on your cake stand. Place the first layer, cut-side down, in the center of the stand and press down lightly so it adheres.
- Fill with a generous amount of frosting--about a 1/3" layer.
- Top with another layer and repeat the frosting. Add the third layer to the top. Make sure the cakes are evenly aligned.
- Add a skim-coat of frosting for a naked cake or use a bit more to cover the cake completely. If you're making the rose decoration on top, just do a thin crumb coat on top.
- To make the rose on top, fit a piping bag with a medium petal tip. Load the bag with the thinner consistency frosting. Start in the center of the cake and pipe a tight spiral that looks a bit like a rose bud. Angle the petal tip so the thin opening is pointing up and away from the center of the cake. Pipe "ribbons" of frosting like long petals in tight concentric circles all around the cake. Leave as-is or add some sprinkles to the top like I did. I also used the petal tip to pipe a very simple border at the bottom of the cake. You can too if you'd like.
- Store the cake, well covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Enjoy!
The buttercream is a variation of easy marshmallow buttercream I've seen floating around the Internet recently. I watched a video on The Kitchn to see how they did it. All I have done to their original is to add some Cheerwine flavor, salt and thin out a portion for piping.
Let’s take a look at the cut cake, you guys. Just look at that lovely, tight crumb. How cleanly it slices. How the frosting color almost exactly matches the color of the cake. So pretty!
And all that’s left to say is Happy 100th Birthday, Cheerwine. Thank you for flavoring my childhood!
Enjoy the Cheerwine layer cake, friends. Thank you for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.
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