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.

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, which was adapted from my favorite chocolate cake. It has 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 and opted for chocolate ganache. 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.

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Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Why Room Temperature Ingredients? 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.
  3. Cocoa Powder: Use natural cocoa in the cake, not dutch-process. Here’s the difference between natural cocoa powder and dutch-process cocoa powder.
  4. Espresso Powder: 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.
  5. Cherries: 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.
  6. Cherry Liquor: 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!
  7. Corn Syrup: I like to add a touch of light corn syrup to the ganache to give it some glistening shine. This is an optional ingredient.

Black Forest Cake

Slice of black forest cake

255 Comments

  1. The chocolate cake in itself is a fantastic recipe. I used one in a black forest as mentioned and another with strawberries and cream sandwiched between the layers. Super duper delicious and so addictive!

  2. Excellent decadent cake! I made it by request for a 50th birthday party. I used 1 large jar of Amarena Fabri cherries since those are a favorite of the birthday girl. I also stanilized the whipped cream using the Wilton recipe from food.com. It worked perfectly. I measured the dry ingredients by weight and the baking time for three 9″ layers was 20 minutes. This was a really special cake and I’m so happy I chose your recipe. Thank you for the clear instructions.

    1. I don’t know why, but cakes intimidate me a little bit. I decided just to go for it and try this recipe, given I had never made a three-layer cake or used a bench scraper, But just by following the directions word for word, this cake turned out perfectly! frosting the cake with the bench scraper was so much easier than I thought it would be. Boyfriend and my family loved this cake so much. I will definitely be making it again. I really think the only reason I have success with everything that I bake from your website is because your directions are so clear and I simply follow them lol.

  3. Has anyone tried baking this recipe in just two 9″ cake pans and then splitting them to make a total 4 thin layers? I’m wondering how it would turn out with the baking time or overflowing tins. I only have 2 cake pans and am afraid if I wait to bake the third until the other cook and cool enough, the batter won’t properly rise.
    My husband requested black forest cake for his 30th birthday and I love and trust the recipes on this site. 🙂

    1. I am getting ready to bake another cake using this recipe again. I use 9” x 2” Fat Daddio’s pans. With the extra batter they will rise to the top of the pans. Make sure you have On the bottom parchment Paper greased in on both sides of the parchment. The sides of the pan should be greased and dusted with cocoa. The trick to keeping the sides from over cooking and the middle being perfect Is to use cake pan even cooking strips on the outside of the pans. It will allow the cake to cook evenly and prevent the cake from doming.
      The best trick I ever learned. If you don’t have any they can be purchased for as little as 2 wraps for $7 on amazon.

  4. Hi. I tried making this tofay for my boyfriend’s birthday but used strawberries instead of cherries. Everyone loved it! Thank you for this recipe. And will definitely will make these again

  5. My husband requested a Black Forest cake for his birthday so I chose this recipe. The instructions were clear and it tasted great. The recipe is a keeper. Thank you so much. I will be looking for other recipes from you.

  6. I would love to make this cake it looks delicious, but as some of the people I’ll be making this for are gluten intolerant, could I substitute gluten free flour? Some recipes I’ve tried don’t do so well with the replacement of gf flour.

      1. I did it! Followed your recipe to the tee except I used gluten free flour and zymil cream. Cakes took a lot longer to cook and had to turn oven down so it cooked in the middle.
        Then turned them into mini cakes, served with cherry coulis and the cream and ganache decorating the plate.
        My husband whose not big on compliments kept telling me how this was the best dessert I’ve made! Thank you for a wonderful recipe, will be making this again!

  7. Just wondering if there is a way of making the syrup without the kirsch – or if you can suggest a brand/location to buy kirsch? I am struggling to find it for less than $70 a bottle.

  8. Hi Sally,
    I wan to make this recipe for 15 people. Keeping that in mind, how do I measure ingredients. Can I just consider the a flour to sugar ratio, flour to cocoa ratio, flour to buttermilk ratio etc from this recipe and prepare more batter on following those ratios?

    1. This cake makes 12 very generous servings but you can serve 15 from it. You would need to increase each ingredient by the exact same percent if you were going to increase the size.

  9. Admittedly, we have not eaten the cake, so I can’t vouch for the taste. But I recycled the recipe. I won’t make it again. It was a royal pain to make. There were no cherries in heavy syrup in 4 grocery stores locally. It’s in the refrigerator right now, hoping it will stop sliding all over the place before our 45 minute ride to a dinner party tonight.

    I’ve made Black Forest cake before, many years ago, and it was not nearly the effort this required.

  10. Amazing, delicious and not too hard to achieve a great looking cake. I made this for my moms 70th birthday, I’m not great at making things look fabulous but everyone was impressed, will be making it again this week for my daughters birthday.

  11. Hi…
    I’m looking for an 8 inch cake…
    1.will the same recipe work if I reduce all the ingredient exactly half ?
    2. Can I make the 8 inch cake in a single pan and then cut into three slices?
    3. If I bake in a single pan, what would be the baking time?

    1. You can bake this recipe in three 8-inch pans without changing any ingredients. Your layers will be slightly thicker than mine so you may need to increase the bake time by a couple of minutes. This is way too much batter to bake it all in one pan.

      1. Thank you for the immediate reply. One more question to add.
        If I would like to reduce the size of the cake and bake it in a 6 inch pan, shall I reduce all the given ingredients to exactly half the quantity ?

      2. I, too, am considering trying this in 6″ pans. I might not adjust the ingredients – might just fill the pans to just below the halfway mark (or thereabouts) and reserve the extra batter. Thoughts on this approach?

  12. So freaking delicious!! I had to buy kirschwasser and buttermilk and espresso powder because I don’t normally keep those on hand but it was so worth it. My husband and everyone at work thought it was amazing and I seriously can’t stop shoving it into my mouth, lol.

  13. Hi, I absolutely love this cake I have used this recipe a number off times now with different frosting. Its become my go to for chocolate cake. The only problem I have with it is that its extremely sweet. Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe without compromising the consistency of the cake? Also if noticed every time I make it my cake has an oily residue on it is this normal or am I doing something wrong?

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Janis! I’m so glad you enjoy this cake recipe. Feel free to slightly reduce the amount of sugar in the cake batter. Keep in mind that the more you reduce, the more the texture of the cake will change as well. Sugar is also a tenderizing ingredient.

  14. Help! I forgot to put the coffee in is it ruined? I’m staring at 3 baked cakes- do you think they’ll be okay to eat? They do look a little thin.

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