I am super happy to bring you this recipe for Cheerwine Cake with Easy Cheerwine Marshmallow Buttercream. The perfect cherry-pink celebration cake made especially for Cheerwine lovers.
Many of the other Cheerwine cakes I’ve seen are sheet cakes, and are usually chocolate. I decided I wanted a pretty, pink 3-layer extravaganza that would be birthday party perfect. I hope you enjoy it!
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The Magic of Cheerwine
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.
What I Want In a Cheerwine 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, a Valentine’s 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 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.
Modifying a White Cake Recipe for The Cheerwine Cake
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.
How to Make It
This cake is not really hard to make, although it does take a little bit of time to reduce 24 oz of Cheerwine down to a thick syrup.
Other than that, this cake recipe is fairly straightforward.
- Cheerwine: you need 3 12 oz bottles or cans of Cheerwine (or other cherry soda) to make this cake. You’ll simmer 2 cans (24 oz) on the stove until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup, or 2 oz. The 3rd bottle/can (12 oz) is added to the cake separately as the liquid
- cake flour: you can also use all-purpose flour here with very little difference in the texture of the final cake
- baking powder: provides the leavening. Do NOT substitute baking soda
- butter: use unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- granulated sugar: provides sweetness along with tenderness, moisture, and “brownability” in the oven
- salt: use fine sea salt, available in most grocery stores. You can use table salt if that is all you have. If you only have kosher salt, you can use it, but you’ll have to use a bit more since kosher salt’s larger flakes do not pack together like fine salt does
- vanilla extract: rounds out the flavors
- egg whites: provides protein for structure as well as liquid
- freeze-dried cherries: whizzed to dust in your blender or spice grinder. It’s technically an optional ingredient, but it boosts the pink color and adds to the cherry flavor. Do not substitute regular dried cherries. You really need the freeze-dried kind so they blend up into a powder
- butter: use unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- marshmallow fluff: you may also find it sold as “marshmallow creme.” You’ll need 1 1/2 7oz containers
- salt: brings all the flavors into focus. Please don’t leave it out
- powdered sugar: provides a little additional sweetness in addition to the sugar in the marshmallow creme as well as some body
- Cheerwine “extract:” This provides the flavor and the color for the frosting. You could also add some more freeze-dried cherry powder here if you’d like, although it isn’t strictly necessary
- vanilla extract: rounds out the flavors and provides a bit of mellowness
- whole milk: optional, for thinning out the frosting to a good spreading consistency if it needs it
First, you need to make your Cheerwine reduction:
- pour 2 12-oz bottles or cans of Cheerwine (or other cherry soda) into a saucepan
- Keep a liquid measuring cup next to the stove
- simmer until the mixture is reduced to a thick syrup. Occasionally pour the contents of the pan into the measuring cup to check how much you have. You are shooting for 1/4 cup, or 2 oz.
Once you have your reduction, you’ll make the cake using the creaming method.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Cream the butter and sugar together along with the salt until it’s light and fluffy.
- Add the egg whites, a bit at a time, until completely combined.
- Add the dry ingredients alternately with the 3rd bottle of Cheerwine, beginning and ending with dry.
You’ll bake your cakes in 3 6″ cake pans.
Once you bake your cakes and they’re cooling, make the frosting:
- Beat the butter until nice and creamy.
- Add the marshmallow fluff and salt and whip until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl as needed.
- Beat in the powdered sugar and the Cheerwine “extract.”
- Add a little milk to about 1/3 of the frosting to make it a better piping consistency for the rose decoration on top of the cake. (See below for video)
How to Make the Rose Decoration on Top of the Cake (Video)
I learned this easy and pretty cake decorating technique by watching my friend Movita Beaucoup‘s video. I have included it here so you can watch how it’s done.
It really is an easy and elegant way to decorate your Cheerwine cake, or any cake. I hope you give her technique a try!
Tips for Success
Note that since the batter won’t have any emulsifiers in it (no yolks!), the batter might look a little curdled. This is nothing to worry about and is normal for white cake recipes.
You can minimize this by making sure your butter and your egg whites are both at cool room temperature.
Also, make sure your Cheerwine for the liquid in the cake is not straight from the fridge. Use Cheerwine that is at cool room temperature, just like your butter and egg whites.
When cooking your 2 bottles/cans of Cheerwine for the extract, be sure to turn the heat down and watch it like a hawk, especially once it starts to get really syrupy.
With all the sugar in the soda, you run the risk of burning it, and then it won’t be any good and you’ll have to start over.
Slow and steady wins that race. You can bring the soda to a boil over high heat, but then turn the heat down to medium-low, especially once it begins to thicken up.
Q & A
Bake the cakes in 2 8″ or 9″ cake pans. The cake won’t have the same proportions, but no need to deny yourself Cheerwine cake just because you don’t have 6″ pans!
Yes. Use a cup for cup gluten free flour blend (or your favorite homemade gluten-free flour blend) and you should be just fine.
This cake should be fine kept covered at room temperature for about 3 days. After then, it will start to dry out. Freeze for longer storage.
No need to refrigerate this cake. Store leftovers in a cake keeper or in another sealed container at room temperature.
Cut and freeze individual slices, or freeze the whole cake. Either way, wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of heavy duty foil. If freezing individual pieces, you can put individually wrapped pieces in a large freezer bag, pressing out as much air as you can before sealing. The cake should keep just fine for up to 3 months.
If you have any other questions about this recipe or any other, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You can leave a comment here, and I will be back in touch in about 24 hours.
If your question in more urgent, you can email me and I answer within about 4 hours.
Either way, I promise to help!
More Cake Recipes
Here are three more cake recipes you might enjoy.
Red velvet cake is paired with what is arguably the original frosting, ermine.
Cow Tales cake is something I came up with just for fun that is lots of icing and some caramel cake–wait until you see it sliced!
And if you’re looking for a chocolate cake, you can’t do much better than chocolate stout cake. So rich, moist, and delicious!
Okay, let’s go make this cake, shall we?
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
This is the scale I use, love, and recommend.
I really hope you love this recipe, you guys!
I’d also love to have you join my PCO newsletter, The Inbox Pastry Chef!
Thanks, and enjoy!
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.
NOTE: If you cannot find Cheerwine, substitute your favorite cherry soda. If you can find Cheerwine, you're a lucky person indeed.
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Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 750Total Fat 39gSaturated Fat 24gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 102mgSodium 396mgCarbohydrates 99gFiber 1gSugar 65gProtein 5g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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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.