Last year, I bought quite a few bags of fresh cranberries over the course of the season. Some became cranberry sauce, but I also hoped to find some interesting, new-to-me takes on the seasonal berry. I experimented with candying and a maple-sweetened pie. They weren’t bad, but I when I picked up my first bag of the year a few weeks ago, I was still looking for something different.
Cranberries had been on my mind since I found an opened nine-month-old bag of berries in my freezer last month. Oops. I heard something on NPR last year about a cranberry shortage and decided to stock up. Or at least that’s my excuse.
Luckily, this cake is among the best and easiest uses of cranberries I’ve tried, so I shouldn’t have a problem using up the rest of them. This isn’t a super decadent chocolate cake, but that’s part of the charm. It’s a simple, two-bowl cake batter with a healthy dose of cocoa powder. It’s light but still chocolaty, perfect for a snack or everyday dessert, though it could be dressed up with some freshly whipped cream. The cranberries are a tart counterpoint to the soft chocolate cake, almost like chocolate dipped strawberries or raspberries. Cinnamon adds a warm note, which makes it more perfect for fall and provides a further check on the sourness of the berries. A final sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top gives the cake a crackly crust.