I'm usually not a huge fan of chocolate cakes, but my DH is a chocolate fiend! For his birthday cake, I was looking for a cake that had some bells and whistles that I could enjoy, too. I was operating under the assumption that I was likely to have a good bit left over to eat - Oh, how wrong I was! Our friends ate all but like two slices.
I made this according to the directions as written the first time through, and it is very tasty. I usually find chocolate cakes to be a little dry, but the cherries and chocolate chips helped the cake stay nice and moist.
This recipe is also extremely easy. I can get this started in just a few minutes when I get home from work, and have it ready for dessert with dinner.
Moreover, this makes an terrific "format" for other cakes of similar type. You can pretty much substitute any type of cake mix, any type of pie filling, any nut, any kind of baking chip, and come up with another - completely different - very delicious cake. The only "must" is using the amounts as stipulated in the recipe. For example, I made a second cake using vanilla cake mix, strawberry pie filling, walnuts, and white chocolate chips, in the same proportions listed here, and it was also a fantastic cake.
I have two things to add as far as things to watch out for when making this recipe:
(1) Start checking it for doneness early. I nearly burned it the first time I made it because I didn't start checking until almost 45 minutes, and it was "nearly done" then.
(2) Don't use a toothpick to check for doneness. I tried it, thinking to save myself from having to wash additional dishes. The melty-ness of the chocolate chips makes it difficult to tell on a toothpick whether the cake is really done. It is much easier to tell on a knife.
Overall, a fantastic and flexible recipe! I plan to continue using it for a long time! :-)