Black Forest Cake is one of Germany's most recognized and prized desserts. It's no wonder why! Rich and light chocolate sponge cake, layered with ripe cherries and sweet cream frosting, makes for a joyous dessert. Add in the pleasant boozy buzz from the infusions and soakings of kirsch—a cherry liqueur—and you have a cake that's the literal life of the party! Sweet, tart, fruity, chocolatey, creamy, and with just a touch of spirits for extra vibrancy, Black Forest Cake is as thick with wondrous flavors as its namesake is with trees!
IngredientsFor the chocolate cake: • 9 large eggs, room temperature • 1 cup granulated sugar • 1 cup all-purpose flour • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract For the cherry filling and syrup: • 4 cups (1 pound) Bing cherries, pitted, plus 12 whole cherries for decor • 3 tablespoons kirsch, a cherry liqueur • 1/4 cup cold water For the cream frosting: • 3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream • 1/3 cup confectioners’ powdered sugar • 1 tablespoon kirsch For the chocolate shavings: • 3 ounces good quality dark chocolate
To begin preparing the chocolate cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using parchment paper, line the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans.
Then, using the whisk attachment to a mixing tool (like a stand mixer), beat the eggs for 1 minute on high speed in a large bowl. With the mixer still on, gradually add in the sugar, beating for 8 minutes on high speed, until fluffy and thick. Then remove the bowl from the mixing tool and set it aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa powder and flour, mixing thoroughly.
Using a flour sifter or fine sieve, sift the mixture, in thirds, into the batter and fold it in with a spatula between every addition. Folding gently incorporates the dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture and prevents it from deflating during the mixing process.
Once all the flour has been added in, continue folding until no streaks of flour are left. Then, scrape the bottom of the bowl to get any leftover pockets of flour, being cautious to not over-mix or the batter will deflate. A gentle hand is key.
Carefully fold as you add the melted butter (pouring in a steady stream) and the vanilla. Scrape the bottom of the bowl so the butter doesn't pool. Continue to fold until just combined, still taking care not to deflate the batter.
Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake immediately in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then run a thin-edged spatula around the edges to loosen up the cake. Move the cakes out of the pans and onto a wire rack, removing the parchment paper lining.
Once the cakes reach room temperature, slice the cake layers in half with a long serrated knife.
To prepare the cherry filling and syrup, first, roughly chop the pitted cherries. Then set the cherries in a medium bowl with 3 tablespoons of kirsch. Allow the cherries to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring.
Then drain the cherries (using a sieve) over a bowl, reserving both the syrup and the cherries. Add 1/4 cup of cold filtered water to the syrup. You should end up with 3/4 cup of total syrup.
To prepare the cream frosting, first thoroughly clean your whisking tool and mixing bowl. We also recommend you then freeze the whisk attachment and bowl for 15 minutes before using it, for optimal results.
When the whisking tool and bowl are thoroughly chilled, beat the heavy cream in the mixing bowl with the whisking tool on high speed until soft peaks form. Add 1 tablespoon kirsch and the powdered sugar, beating for 1-2 minutes on high speed until spreadable and stiff.
Refrigerate until ready to use, keeping the whisk attachment in the bowl so you can re-whip if it becomes loose after refrigeration.
To assemble the cake, place the first cake layer on a cake stand, then brush with 1/4 of the cherry syrup. Cover the top with 3/4 cup of the cream frosting, then top with 1/3 of the chopped cherries.
Repeat these steps with the remaining layers, topping with the flattest layer of cake and a final layer of the cream frosting.
Move 1 1/2 cups of the cream frosting to a pastry bag with a large flower tip attachment, refrigerating until ready to use. Don't handle the bag too much, as you don't want the cream to soften. Alternatively, you can use a zip-lock plastic bag and cut one corner off of it when it is time to decorate.
Fill in the cracks along the sides of the cake with the remaining cream frosting. Frost until you have even, smooth frosting on all sides of the cake.
To prepare the chocolate shavings, start by melting the dark chocolate in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Once melted, spread it in a thin layer over the back of a baking sheet. Refrigerate for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then remove it from the fridge.
Using a food scraper, scrape the chocolate off the baking sheet and into an awaiting bowl. The chocolate should have the appearance of bark-like shavings. Alternatively, you can use a potato peeler to shave chocolate, but this method may not yield the desired appearance.
Decorate the cake by covering the top and sides with the chocolate shavings, leaving a 1-inch perimeter on top for piping frosting.
Pipe the rounds of frosting around the top of the cake, placing a whole cherry over each one as a finishing touch. Refrigerate the cake for 4 hours or overnight before serving.