Indulge in the decadent delight of a classic German dessert – the Black Forest Cake. Four layers of moist chocolate cake are generously filled with fresh whipped cream and juicy cherry filling. The perfect balance of sweetness and tartness makes it an ideal dessert for any celebration or gathering.
If you haven’t had Black Forest Cake, aka Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, you are in for a treat! And even though it looks complicated, it isn’t. It’s one of the most iconic cakes in Germany and perfect for any special occasion.
Another favorite chocolate cake of ours is this Devil’s Food Cake. It’s great for any party or get-together as well!
More About This Black Forest Cake
- Its name is unclear as to where it came from. Some say it came from the Black Forest region of Germany.
- Use fresh, canned, or frozen cherries for this classic dessert
- Choose to decorate how you please, making it perfect for beginners
- I am not claiming this to be authentic, but my version. German cakes, or torte in this case, tend to be drier. I didn’t want a dry cake, so I used my own chocolate cake recipe.
- While this cake isn’t hard to make, it does require some time.
CHOCOLATE CAKE: ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, COCOA POWDER, SUGAR, BROWN SUGAR, BAKING SODA, BAKING POWDER, EGGS, BUTTERMILK (OR WHOLE MILK), SOUR CREAM, OIL
CHERRY FILLING: FRESH, FROZEN, OR CANNED CHERRIES: I chose to include all three as a choice because fresh cherries are seasonal and not available all year round. Thaw the cherries first if using frozen. If there is a lot of juice, drain it off. If using canned cherries (not cherry pie filling) drain first.
KIRSCHWASSER: This is a German cherry brandy, and the cake would not taste the same without it.
WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING: CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR (POWERED SUGAR), HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM, VANILLA
CHOCOLATE GANACHE TOPPING: SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE, HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM
How To Make Black Forest Cake
CHOCOLATE CAKE: Combine the sugars, eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Pour into prepared pans and bake.
CHERRY FILLING: In a large saucepan, combine the ingredients for the cherry filling. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken. Allow to cool before using.
WHIPPED CREAM: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the ingredients, then whip on high until stiff peaks form.
CHOCOLATE GANACHE: Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour warm cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Cool for 5-10 minutes or until it starts to thicken.
Let’s Assemble The Cake!
CAKE LAYERS: Start by slicing each cake in half horizontally. Place one layer on a cake stand or plate. Top with 2 cups whipped cream and 1/3 of the cherry filling. Repeat layers.
FROSTING: Using the remaining whipped cream, frost your cake. Finally, drizzle with the chocolate ganache.
REFRIGERATE: Allow this cake to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the cake to firm up.
It’s not overly sweet; with this recipe, you get all the flavors of chocolate and cherry!
This cake is best stored in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature like most cakes.
In this version, most of the alcohol gets cooked off. However, it is advised not to give this cake to young children.
Tips and Suggestions
TO MAKE THIS CAKE ALCOHOL FREE: Replace the Kirschwasser with cherry juice or use a non-alcoholic version of cherry brandy.
DECORATING: You don’t have to make the chocolate ganache. For a more authentic look, pipe rosettes around the border of the cake and top each with a cherry. You can also add chocolate curls.
CHERRIES: If you don’t want to use fresh cherries, you can use frozen or canned (not cherry pie filling). Drain off excess liquid before using or use the liquid to replace the alcohol. Traditionally, Morello sour cherries are used.
WHIPPED CREAM: If planning to serve this outside in warmer weather, I suggest making stabilized whipped cream instead.
How To Make Black Forest Cake in Advance?
- Cakes can be baked in advance. Cover each cooled cake with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
- Cherry filling can be made and stored in a container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Chocolate ganache can be made and stored in a container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Soften gently in the microwave until it is smooth enough to pour over the cake.
- This cake doesn’t freeze the best because of it’s structure.
Black Forest Cake
- 1 cup (210g) sugar
- ¾ cup (155g) packed brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (240g) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 cup (235ml) buttermilk or whole milk, room temperature
- ½ cup (120ml) oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (85g) cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspooon salt
- 1 pound (455g) fresh cherries (plus extra for decoration)
- ⅔ cup (160g) Kirschwasser
- ¼ cup (50g) sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING:
- 4 cups (945ml) heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup (55g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon Kirschwasser
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 (4oz) (113g) semi-sweet chocolate bar, chopped
- ½ cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease two 9" round baking pans; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until combined.
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans for 10-15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Combine the cherries, Kirschwasser, sugar, flour, and ⅓ cup water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring very frequently until the mixture starts to thicken. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool completely.
WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream, conectioners' sugar, Kirschwasser, and vanilla. Beat on high until stiff peaks form; set aside.
- Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Warm the cream over medium-low heat just until it starts to simmer. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes or until it starts to thicken.
- Using a long, serrated knife, slice each cake in half horizontally so there are 4 even layers of cake.
- Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Spread 2 cups of whipped cream on the cake layer then top with ⅓ of the cherry mixture. Repeat this with 2 more cake layers and top with the final cake layer.
- Spread the remaining whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Slowly pour the ganache over the top of the cake letting it drip down the sides.
- Allow the cake to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Before serving top with extra cherries.
- HIGH ALTITUDE: Change baking soda to 1 teaspoon and baking powder to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
- This cake is not freezer-friendly.
- To replace fresh cherries: Use 1 pound of frozen cherries, thawed and drained. Or use 3 (15oz) cans of cherries in water, drained. Don’t use cherries in heavy syrup or cherry pie filling as it is too sweet.
- Can replace the Kirschwasser with the cherry juice from #3 above.