German Sour Cherry, Chocolate, and Cognac Gugelhupf Cake

Growing up, my mother would frequently make a Sour Cherry Chocolate Cake in a Gugelhopf form. The cake was moist and sweet, with a bit of a bite from the sour cherries, and there was just enough chocolate to give it flavor, but not be overwhelming. Yet, there was always another elusive flavor in the cake, that I only recently figured out… Asbach Uralt Cognac.
(Wondering now if that’s why I always need a nap after a Kaffeeklatsch?)

sour cherry chocolate cake

This recipe is not a reinvention of the wheel, I’ve just cleaned it up for an American Kitchen. Some if her original ingredients can’t be easily found here in the US, and the measurements are different. Be sure to read the instructions through BEFORE you start baking. There’s nothing really complex here, it just has a trick with the cherries that you don’t see very often.

(Now, if you prefer not to use cognac, just leave it out. Add a few tablespoons of milk instead. But it really is a small amount)

sour cherry chocolate cake


Sour Cherry & Chocolate Cake with Cognac Gugelhupf

I bake this one in a Gugelhupf pan which is almost the same as a bundt pan… but it’s sides a bit narrower. If you don’t have a Gugelhupf pan, use a Bundt pan, and watch the timing a bit more closely.

German Sour Cherry Cake

German Sour Cherry, Chocolate and Cognac Gugelhopf

This Sour Cherry Chocolate and Cognac Gugelhupf is simple enough for everyday, but nice enough for a weekend coffee. It's not as dense as many German cakes, but it is still sturdy enough to transport if needed.
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 12 - 16 Pieces


  • 1 cup 2 sticks Butter (soft)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbl. Sugar
  • Pinch Salt
  • 5 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 2/3 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBL Cornstarch
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips see note below
  • 3 TBL Cognac or Winebrandt you can let your hand slip a bit for more of a kick I used Asbach Uralt
  • 700 ml canned Sour Cherries or Morello Cherries The Jar Trader Joes sells is perfect.
  • Glaze-
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 TBL Cognac
  • 1-2 TBL Water... depending on weather


  • Set the oven to 350° F.
  • Generously Butter and Flour a Gugelhopf Pan
  • Prepare the Chocolate- In Germany, they use Chocolate Raspeln (shaved chocolate bits), but because these aren't generally available in the store, I substitute Chocolate Chips that have been chopped up a bit. I own an Ulu Knife set so it's easy... but you can use a cutting board and knife. Chop the chips to make them smaller bits. Set aside until needed.
  • Put a larger sieve over a bowl, and pour the cherries into it to drain. You can drink the juice later, or let a passing child enjoy it. (This was always one of my favorite treats!)
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium high for at least 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides occasionally.
  • Add a Pinch of Salt, mix in.
  • With the mixer going, add the Eggs one at a time. Beat in and scrape after each one. Add the Vanilla Extract.
  • In a bowl or measuring cup, combine the flour, cornstarch and baking powder. With mixer running, add the dry ingredients slowly.
  • Add the Cognac. (Honestly, 3 TBL in one cake is not very noticeable, but you do get the taste. It's safe for kids)
  • Stir in the chocolate bits.
  • Scoop/spoon/pour ⅓ of the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Then, stir the cherries into the rest of the batter by hand, and pour the batter with cherries into the pan.
    (this keeps the cherries from all sinking to the top/bottom.
  • Bake the cake for 30 minutes at 350° .... then drop the temperature to 325° for 20 more minutes.
  • Check the cake by inserting a toothpick. It should come out clean or with crumbs... if not, bake 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from oven to a cooking rack, and let the cake sit for 15 minutes before you turn it out.


  • Double this if want more glaze
  • Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add the Tablespoon of Cognac. Stir. Now add a teaspoon of water, stir, add more, stir.
  • Keep stirring (and maybe add a bit more water or cognac) until the glaze is thick but pourable. (Sort of like white glue)
  • Pour the Glaze over the cake.
  • NOTE- it will not entirely cover the cake.. it just goes across the top and down the sides a bit. If you want more glaze... double the above recipe.
  • Also- If you want to glaze ON the serving plate, tuck some foil or waxed paper under the cake, then pull it away after the glaze sets. (I do this because I end up ruining cakes by transferring them).


You can serve this cake without glaze.. .just sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.


I used to find Morello Cherries at Trader Joes, and now they’ve apparently been discontinued?? I have used the Oregon Tart brand, and they are fine. Not perfect, but good.
If you find a good source, PLEASE send me an email!! ([email protected])

Marco Polo Pitted Sour Cherries, 24 ozMarco Polo Pitted Sour Cherries, 24 ozMarco Polo Pitted Sour Cherries, 24 ozOregon Specialty Fruit, Dark Sweet Cherries, Pitted, All-Natural, 15 Ounces, 3-PackOregon Specialty Fruit, Dark Sweet Cherries, Pitted, All-Natural, 15 Ounces, 3-PackOregon Specialty Fruit, Dark Sweet Cherries, Pitted, All-Natural, 15 Ounces, 3-PackWienke's Wisconsin Montmorency (Pitted Cherries without Sugar, 31 Ounce)Wienke’s Wisconsin Montmorency (Pitted Cherries without Sugar, 31 Ounce)Wienke's Wisconsin Montmorency (Pitted Cherries without Sugar, 31 Ounce)Oregon Fruit Pitted Red Tart Cherries in Water, 14.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 8)Oregon Fruit Pitted Red Tart Cherries in Water, 14.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 8)Oregon Fruit Pitted Red Tart Cherries in Water, 14.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 8)


Find Some of the Tools and Ingredients Here

If you don’t can your own cherries, use a jar of Morello cherries… NOT Cherry pie filling! The Original recipe calls for Schoko Raspeln or Chocolate Sprinkles. I’ve never been a fan of the flavor of sprinkles, and since most American Kitchens have Chocolate Chips, I just think it’s easy enough to chop them up for the cake. Besides, it makes the kids happy to have bigger bits of chocolate in the cake (but not TOOO big). I use an ULU Knife for this because it just works so well (It’s also a great tool to chop nuts).

Alaska Ulu Knife and Chopping Bowl SetAlaska Ulu Knife and Chopping Bowl SetAlaska Ulu Knife and Chopping Bowl SetKaiser 23 0063 7150 Bundform pan, BlackKaiser 23 0063 7150 Bundform pan, BlackKaiser 23 0063 7150 Bundform pan, Black

Some Pictures of the German Sour Cherry Chocolate Cake

So you can see what I’m taking about in the instructions

Prepare the Chocolate Chips

(you CAN use Chocolate Sprinkles, if you prefer)


Drain the Cherries by pouring them into a strainer over a bowl

sour cherry cake
Morello Cherries… Save the Juice for drinking!

Place the Drained cherries ON TOP OF the Batter in the Cake Pan

sour cherry chocolate cake
The cherries will sink into the cake, and disperse.

Let the Baked Cake Rest in the pan for 15 minutes

german sour cherry cake
Lightly browned… and a toothpick comes out clean

Remove From the Pan onto a Rack to Cool COMPLETELY before Icing

german sour cherry cake
Let cool completely.. Don’t panic about the cracks… just ice over them.

Making the Glaze

Sift the powdered sugar. Add Cognac and water carefully. Better to start with too little.
TASTE as you go.
My official taster managed to eat a few teaspoons of the glaze, so I make extra.

Spoon the Glaze over the Cooled Cake
If you want to glaze the cake on the serving dish, tuck pieces of foil or waxed paper under the cake. The paper will collect the drips. When the glaze hardens, pull the paper away.

german sour cherry cake

You can Hide Cracks by Cutting the first slice Right at that spot!

german sour cherry cake
See… no crack

sour cherry chocolate cake


Cherries in Every Bite!

sour cherry chocolate cake

sour cherry chocolate cake


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