Combine dates, cherries, and baking soda in a heatproof bowl, then stir in boiling water and brandy.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.
Beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until just combined. Beat in vanilla and zest. Add half of flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Add date mixture with liquid and beat at low speed until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate and pecans.
Pour batter into a generously buttered 9-inch spring form pan, smoothing top. Bake in middle of oven until center is slightly rounded and top of torte is cracked (edges will be dark brown), about 55 minutes. Let torte stand 5 minutes in pan on a rack. Run a sharp small knife around side of pan to loosen, and then remove side. Cool torte on rack.
• Torte may be made 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.