Black Forest Cake

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This deliciously moist Black Forest Cake is a cut above the rest with homemade whipped cream, rich chocolate ganache, and sweet spiked cherries.

Black Forest Cake

This post is sponsored by KitchenAid.

Today’s blog post is one of the most special you’ll ever read here on SBA. I am both honored and excited to partner with KitchenAid for its 100 Year Celebration. This once-in-a-century celebration commemorates 100 years of KitchenAid inspiring culinary passion and creating new possibilities in the kitchen. The same core value launching KitchenAid back in 1919 is continuously instilled in the products created today: an inspiration by those who love to make…and I am certainly one of those people.

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue

Super moist black forest cake with chocolate chip, whipped cream, and dark sweet cherries. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

My story begins around 25 years ago. I was about age 8 and sitting at the kitchen table with my grandmother. We were pitting cherries that we had just picked from her sprawling backyard garden. My fingers were stained, my teeth a glaring magenta– an obvious giveaway that I’d been sneaking the fruits of our labor. Garden Grandma, as my sisters and I called her, was teaching me how to can cherries. Her 1.5- acre garden was a passion project. She often worked from sun up to sun down; “lazy” wasn’t in her vocabulary. She preserved everything– green beans, peaches, pears, corn, pickles, tomatoes, and, of course, cherries. She grew raspberries and blackberries to make homemade jam and most definitely holds the prize for best pie crust on the planet. Her love for making didn’t stop there; her white KitchenAid stand mixer held a permanent spot on the counter. Garden Grandma’s kitchen was a playground for possibility. And although she left this world 7 years ago this very month, her legacy lives on as I build a career in my own kitchen.

Cherries were her favorite and when asked to build a recipe inspired by my memories in the kitchen, cherry cake came to mind first. Grandma and I share a love for the chocolate and cherry combination, so I made a black forest cake. If only we could sit down together at her kitchen table and share a slice!

What is Black Forest Cake?

This is my rendition of the traditional German black forest cake aka Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Today’s towering beauty has 4 parts:

  1. My go-to chocolate layer cake
  2. Dark sweet cherries
  3. Fluffy vanilla whipped cream
  4. Dark chocolate ganache

How to make Black Forest Cake cake batter

How to make black forest cake

Cherries for Black Forest Cake

Chocolate Cake

The cake recipe comes from this tuxedo cake. A cake crumb so moist and chocolate-y, it sticks to your fork and melts on your tongue. Curious about the ingredients used? Hop on over to that recipe for detail. One thing I’ll mention because it’s worth repeating: hot liquid is a must in this cake batter. Why? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve instead of just sitting there. For the hot liquid, I recommend coffee which will deepen the chocolate flavor. The cake will not taste like coffee, I promise! Or you can use hot water.

Cherries & Whipped Cream

Grab a couple cans of dark sweet cherries that are soaked in heavy syrup (the can is sold as such). Reduce the syrup down on the stove as the cakes bake. Have any cherry liquor around? Add a splash and brush the mixture all over the cakes while they’re still warm. This cherry soaking syrup guarantees the moistest, most flavorful chocolate cake you will EVER taste. Think of the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten. This one’s better and we have the cherry- soaking syrup to thank.

Those cherries from the can? They’ll be layered right into the cake, seeping their magenta juices into the vanilla whipped cream. Swirled pink, the whipped cream is light, billowy, and doesn’t weigh down the cake. While this black forest cake is certainly decadent, it’s not overly heavy. A breath of fresh air considering most chocolate cakes are dense as bricks!

Most of vanilla whipped cream is layered inside the cake, but be sure to reserve some to lightly spread on top and around the cake. This seals in the cake’s moisture. Have I mentioned this cake is moist?

Homemade Whipped Cream

How to Make Chocolate Ganache

Black forest cake is traditionally finished with chocolate shavings, but I took it a step further. The crowning glory is a layer of dazzling chocolate ganache that gently drapes over the sides for mega drama. (Because when it comes to chocolate cake, there’s gotta be drama!) Made from heavy cream and pure chocolate, there’s no garnish more appropriate for this cake masterpiece.

I’m so excited for you to try this black forest cake, a recipe that came to life from the one who inspired me to get in the kitchen.

How to decorate Black Forest Cake

Super-moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, and dark sweet cherries are Black Forest Cake! Homemade chocolate cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Slice of black forest cake

Now let’s talk about the gorgeous stand mixer you see in all these photos! The 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer comes in a custom and classic color, Misty Blue– a soft blue with a hint of green that is reminiscent of one of the first KitchenAid stand mixer colors ever introduced. It displays a heritage-inspired KitchenAid® logo, a white-coated stainless steel bowl and a custom Power Hub cover celebrating 100 years of KitchenAid. 10 speeds, tilt head, 5 quart, a testament to the past 100 years!

While it may be KitchenAid brand’s 100 year anniversary, it’s a celebration for all of us. I invite you to post a photo on Instagram of your favorite memory of making in the kitchen and tag it with #MakingHistory100 and #SweepstakesUS for the chance to win a KitchenAid® 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer. No Purchase Necessary. US/DC 18+. Ends 11/24/18 11:59 PM ET. Click here for sweepstakes rules.

Black Forest Cake

This deliciously moist Black Forest Cake is a cut above the rest with homemade whipped cream, rich chocolate ganache, and sweet spiked cherries.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder*
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or coffee*
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup*
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry liquor (sold as kirsch or kirschwasser)*

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bars (226g), finely chopped
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup*

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups (480ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the chocolate cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, beat the oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the hot water or coffee, and beat it all until the batter is completely combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 21-25 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pans, then remove cakes from pans and set on a cooling rack. Be careful and use two hands when handling the cakes.
  4. Drain the cherries, reserving 3/4 cup (180ml) of the heavy syrup. Set cherries aside. Simmer syrup and cherry liquor in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced down to 1/4 cup (60ml). Brush reduced syrup all over the cakes, reserving any leftover syrup. The cakes can be slightly warm when you do this.
  5. Slice the cherries in half, leaving a few whole cherries for garnish. Set aside.
  6. Make the ganache: Place chopped chocolate and corn syrup, if using, in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil-- that's too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes as you prepare the whipped cream.
  7. Make the whipped cream: Using a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  8. Assemble the cake: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Spread 1 heaping cup of whipped cream evenly on top. Dot with half of the halved cherries and drizzle with a spoonful of reduced syrup. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with 1 heaping cup whipped cream, the remaining halved cherries, and another drizzle of reduced syrup. Top with the 3rd cake layer. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and all around the sides in a thin layer using an icing spatula. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the whipped cream on the sides of the cake.
  9. Pour chocolate ganache on top of the cake. Spread to the edges of cake allowing it to gently drip down the sides. Top with whole cherries. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
  10. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make ahead tip: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. The whipped cream can be prepared, covered tightly, and refrigerated overnight. Chocolate ganache can be prepared, covered tightly, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using. Let ganache sit at room temperature to soften or microwave for 5-10 seconds before using. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before slicing and serving. The frosted cake can also be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Why room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. Instead of sour cream, try using plain yogurt. The cake won't taste as rich, but it's a fine substitution. If needed, you can use whole milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of buttermilk.
  2. Use natural cocoa in the cake, not dutch-process. Here's the difference between natural cocoa powder and dutch-process cocoa powder.
  3. Espresso powder and coffee will not make the chocolate taste like coffee. Rather, they deepen the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend them both. If coffee isn't your thing, you can leave out the espresso powder and use boiling hot water instead of the hot coffee.
  4. Canned dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup (they are sold as such) are imperative to the recipe. The syrup will be reduced down. Do not use fresh dark sweet cherries, sour cherries, or maraschino cherries.
  5. The cherry liquor is optional, but really gives the soaking syrup (step 4) that over-the-top delicious flavor setting this black forest cake apart from others. You can also add a splash to the whipped cream!
  6. I like to add a touch of light corn syrup to the ganache to give it some glistening shine. This is an optional ingredient.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Black Forest Cake

Slice of black forest cake

111 Comments

All Comments

  1. Congratulations on your partnering with KitchenAid. My mother had a KitchenAid in her restaurant and one at home. I bought me a PINK one a few years ago. Our great granddaughter says it is her mixer. Haha!! I also bought one for someone’s 50 anniversary. So we are very familiar with them. I also have a PINK handheld one. Can you tell I like PINK? Haha!!

    The cake is very yummy looking. I have never made one.

    1. I love the pink mixers! So fun to add a pop of color to your kitchen 🙂 If you try this recipe I’d love to know what you think! Hope you have a great weekend Charlotte!

  2. I check in on your website everyday. I love reading how everyone else is thoroughly entertained, educated, and enthralled with your passion. Every compliment has already been bestowed upon you. I don’t know what else to say other than: “You are really special, Sally.” You make me smile and what you create is so much more than a cake recipe (which is ABSOLUTELY DELECTABLE!) There is just something about you, Sally. Whimsy? Magic? This is just an oasis to stop by and take in the view in the vast world wide web. Thank you for truly making this world a better place. (And I am not trying to lavish you with flattery. I truly am sitting here smiling as I type this. ) Peace–that is what you bring. (Maybe all of our world leaders should drop by your website before starting their day.) My best to you and your family. What you have contributed to this world…simply amazing…

    1. How sweet are you?! Thank you so much for your kind words Amanda! They mean so much to me and make this job absolutely worth it! It is a true joy to share my passion with others! Wishing you a wonderful weekend 🙂

  3. I read every single one of your posts and make many of your delicious recipes. This post, however, is a cut above the rest. As I was reading, it was if I was sitting in your Grandmas kitchen right beside you. Your pictures and description on this cake are perfectly detailed and although I always want to make what you’re baking, this time I can almost taste it too. God has blessed you with many gifts: photography, baking, and writing. Keep sharing those gifts with us! ❤️

    1. Thank you so much! This post and recipe was incredibly fun to create- I love it when experiences in the kitchen take me back to my childhood 🙂 I appreciate your kind words!

  4. OMG! You got one of the special edition mixers!
    To be so lucky……
    I enjoy your blog and have made several of your delicious recipes.

  5. Sally– what a beautiful cake you have created! It is simply stunning! And the memory that goes along with it just enhances the cake and fills it with love, and that is the best kind of cooking! My favorite quote: Cooking is love made visible. You certainly do that and it shines through on all these recipes. I wish I loved cherries and chocolate together. I love cherry pie, I love chocolate pie and cake, but together, not so much. But this cake begs me to change my mind on that!!

    1. Thank you so much for the positive feedback, Lisa! I hope this cake does change your mind!! Let me know if you try it- I’d love to know what you think 🙂

  6. Hi,
    This is an absolute killer recipe. I’m not sure I’ll be able to match your total making time of 3 hours, 45 minutes as prep always takes me ages!. Will give it a try though. Love your site. Keep up the good work.
    Andy

  7. This cake is gorgeous and I can’t wait to make it!! My husband’s birthday is 12/18 and he always requests Black Forest Cake. I’ve tried several different recipes over the years and have settled on “the best” over the past 10 years or so. Now, this cake will definitely be on the table in a few weeks!! Thank you for all you do, Sally!!

  8. Hi Sally I love you’re blog and I always read your fantastic recipies, I have to admit that I have tried several of you’re pumpkin recipies and they were very impressive . The question that I would like to ask you regarding that yummy Black Forest cake is can I bake the cake in one pan and then slice it into three and if so how long can I cook it for in the oven .
    Regards
    Harriet

    1. Hi Harriet, thank you so much for the sweet comment! I don’t recommend baking this chocolate cake batter in 1 pan. If you only have 1 pan, simply bake 1 layer at a time. Cover the chocolate batter tightly and keep on the counter until it is all baked.

  9. You are teaching me to bake! I love the detailed explanations, the “why” of using one ingredient over another, and why this method of measuring, type of pan, etc. Both that science-y part and the creative and artistic are here and it’s just really well done!
    I’m slower than molasses but I made the Moist Lemon Cake (fabulous!) last night and tonight I’m doing Black Forest. I’m taking both next door to a birthday party tomorrow night and I’ll be excited to share SBA as everybody scarfs them down! (Two of my chocolate cakes are a little caved in, so that is a mystery to solve re: what I did or didn’t do. I’ll put those 2 on the bottom and no one will be the wiser!)
    Thank you again! —S

    1. Thank you so much Stephanie! Which lemon cake did you make? Was it mine? This lemon cake?

      Sometimes when chocolate cakes cave in– there was too much batter in the pan OR the cakes were underbaked. Both easy fixes for next time! Let me know how you and your neighbors enjoy the cakes.

      1. Hey Sally,
        You solved it! I did 1 1/2 recipes to be able to do a small 2-layer Black Forest cake just for us. (3) regular 9” pans for the party cake + (2) 6” springforms for the little guy, just because that’s what I had.
        I weighed equal amounts into each 9” pan, but just eyeballed the two little springform pans for “our” cakes” I think each of the 9” pans got almost 800g of batter, and it must have been have been excessive for that pan size and this type of cake.
        Since the slight sunken spots were on the underside of each flipped layer, no one was the wiser!
        I did find that they were not super fluffy, I.e., they didn’t rise a ton, and I assumed this was intentional for a 3-layer cake recipe? I
        Girl of course it’s your lemon cake recipe! The moist lemon cake with cream cheese lemon buttercream. Now, I’ve not bitten into a bite yet, only made enough for the party. But when I nibbled on the crumbs and scraped cake off the parchment …whoa!! It’s seriously buttery/lemony/moist yumminess!
        Thanks again, can’t wait to keep baking and learning! Will try & keep my comments shorter, just get into all this, it’s such fun! I can only imagine the time & work which go into each of these recipes. Thanks again!

  10. Hi Sally! This cake looks gorgeous and so delicious! I love coming to your website to find a recipe to make they always come out so good and tasty. Thank you, for sharing your recipes. I want to make the chocolate ganache, is it possible to use unsweetened baking bars, if so what else is needed to ‘sweeten’ up the recipe?

    1. Thank you Carmen! Yes, you can use unsweetened chocolate to make the ganache topping for this black forest cake. Adding some sugar will sweeten it, but the ganache won’t be as smooth. I recommend a semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate instead.

      1. Thank you so much for answering!! If, I do intend on using unsweetened chocolate bars, how much sugar should I add to the ganache?

  11. I made this recipe and it was AMAZING! So delicious! I halved the recipe and baked in 3 6-inch pans and they took around 20 minutes. Loved the flavors of this cake! Definitely making this again. Thank you for raising my confidence in making a cake!

  12. Hey Sally,
    This looks amazing. I think I’m going to make it for Thanksgiving. I only have 2 9 inch pans, can I divide the batter between two pans and bake for 30-35 mins? Thanks again for this recipe — I am so excited!

    1. Hi Irene! You can make this into a 2 layer black forest cake using 2 9-inch cake pans. Bake time may not be as long as 30-35 minutes, but definitely use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  13. Oh my gosh – Black Forrest is my favourite and this looks so inviting (saw the picture and couldn’t click through fast enough). Would definitely love to try at some point and I’ll have to dream of owning a KitchenAid (our Kitchen doesn’t have room – sigh!)

  14. Hi Sally! This cake looks gorgeous, as everything you do!! I check in on your website everyday and all the thigs tha i try come out so good. Thanks to you i’m a sucess in every dessert i make 🙂

    The question that I would like to ask you is: can i do this cake the night before serving it? Can i keep it in the fridge all night?

  15. If I make the cake ahead of time (prior to whipped cream/ganache), should I wait to brush the cherry concoction onto it until I’m ready for the next steps or do it before storing the layers in the fridge?

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Reviews

  1. Sally this cake is so moist and yummy and the chocolatey taste totally enhanced by the coffee addition!!

    However, i have a tiny problem. I also made your homemade strawberry cake (delish!) as well, but both cakes turned out with crusty edges, any way to avoid this? I did cover the cakes in the middle of baking to prevent the top from burning. Should i use something like a pie shield right from the start?

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