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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 on a wood slice cake stand

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 with chocolate cake batter

slice of black forest cake on a white plate, the rest of the cake on a wood slice cake stand, and a blue stand mixer

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
black forest cake batter in a glass bowl

2 images of pouring chocolate cake batter into cake pans and brushing cherry soaking syrup onto cake layers

2 images of cherries in a glass bowl and adding cherries to 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 in a glass stand mixer bowl

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. Instead of covering the entire cake like we do with chocolate peanut butter cake, we will let the chocolate ganache gently drape 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.

Sally decorating a black forest cake with flowers

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 on a plate

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!

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Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand

Black Forest Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • 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

Scale

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) 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. After the cakes have cooled, use a large serrated knife or cake leveler to slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!).
  5. Prepare the syrup: 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.
  6. Slice the cherries in half, leaving a few whole cherries for garnish. Set aside.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Assemble the cake: 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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. For the cherry syrup, cool then cover and refrigerate 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.
  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. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.

Keywords: black forest cake

Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand with a KitchenAid stand mixer in the background

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Is there an alternative to canned cherries in syrup? These aren’t available in any of the nearby stores

    1. Hi Lindsay, You can layer the cake with the cherry pie filling. Skip the reducing the syrup/brushing the syrup on the cakes steps.

    2. I also have trouble finding the cherries in my local stores, but have been able to get them online from Walmart. I just make sure to order them far enough in advance so I have them in time to make the cake. I always make cakes for my coworkers’ birthdays, and this one is definitely the most requested cake. It is delicious!

    3. love this recipe! can it be frozen with the ganash or only the cream?

    4. I used sour cherries from the glass jar and used the juice from that. IT WAS AMAZING.

  2. Great recipe! The cherry flavor was not strong, but it was there. Lovely combination of cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream. I had some trouble with the ganache spreading a little too much but that was probably my fault. The chocolate cake itself is dynamite and I plan on making it my new go-to chocolate cake recipe.

    1. Hi Van, we don’t recommend it. If put all in one pan, the batter will likely overflow and the cake will not bake evenly due to the added volume. It’s best to bake as separate layers. If you only have one pan, you can bake them individually and leave the remaining batter covered at room temperature. Hope this helps!

  3. This cake is beautiful and tastes as magnificent as it looks. I’ve made it a few times but I have trouble with the gnache. It makes so much that I spill it over the cake and it just pools on the cake plate or I waste half it. Should I decrease the amount of heavy cream perhaps or are the measurements incorrect? I must be doing something wrong.

    1. Hi Sandra, so glad you loved this recipe! Is your ganache too thin? It will thicken as it cools. You can simply use less ganache next time if you find it to be too much.

      1. Thank you Trina. I will let the ganache cool longer next time. Sally’s Baking Addiction is my favourite source of easy and amazing baked goods. I have made so many of her recipes and they are always a hit.

  4. The cake came our perfect but I had trouble with the gana he.
    I had a lot left over. I hadded the corn syrup but the chocolate was still dull.
    Help.

    1. Hi Helen! Did you use pure baking chocolate for the ganache? You can read more tips for making ganache in our chocolate ganache post.

  5. Just wow! I can’t believe I creayed something so tasty and beautiful! Thank you, Sally! I have been following your recipes for quite a while now but this is the most ambitious so far. Your recipes are always on the dot!

  6. I made this last week, it was delicious! I had to make a couple of substitutes but it still turned out great.
    I didn’t have sour cream so I used greek yogurt thinned out with a bit of heavy cream. I also couldn’t find canned cherries so I used cherry pie filling instead and left out the kirsch as I was serving it to kids. Next time I might try to make my own cherries in syrup as I think the cherry soaked cake would have been even better.
    Thank you Sally and Team!

    1. Hi Nidhi, We haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitute, but let us know if you try anything. Here are all of our egg free recipes if you are interested!

  7. I love the look of the cake. Unfortunately it has ingredients I cannot eat like sugar and wheat. But I might be able to attempt it with King Arthur mix and lakanto syrup.

    What I really want to know is where did you get that adorable cake stand?

    1. Hi Liane, This stand is from Sur La Table but it doesn’t appear to be on their site anymore. World Market recently had a similar one if you search “wood slice cake stand.”

    1. We haven’t measured the final assembled cake, but each layer is about 1.5 inches, give or take. Final height will depend on how thick you layer the whipped cream between the cake layers.

      1. Thank You! I’ve tried this recipe before but wasn’t able to make it completely because I was short on ingredients. I made only the cake. I’m waiting to try it out again, this time completely. Your recipes are great!

    1. Hi Liz, we’re unsure exactly how many cupcakes this batter will make (at least 2 dozen), fill them halfway with batter. About 20-22 minutes bake time at 350F. Would love to hear how they go!

      1. Hi! Cupcakes came out great! I did the cherry glaze, then halved cherries, whip cream, then ganache on top with another cherry to top it off. Looked really cute! My husband said it’s the best cake he’s had in his life! I used tart cherries and it actually tasted good! Thanks!

    1. Hi Lori We haven’t tested it, but some readers have reported success using cognac in place of cherry liquor. Or you can simply leave it out! If you try anything, let us know how it goes.

  8. Hello, this looks delicious. I want to make this to bring to our cabin in a week for a birthday. Did I read correctly in make-ahead instructions that you can freeze the frosted cake – so essentially freezing after step 9? How do you wrap it for storing in the freezer or should it be placed in an air tight container for the freezer? It would be great to be able to only have to pour on ganache and decorate at the cabin due to limited space. Thank you!

    1. Hi Rachel! Yes, that’s correct. If you have a large enough air tight container, that’s the best way to freeze it! Otherwise wrap it with plastic wrap best you can. Hope it’s a hit!

    2. I don’t normally write reviews but this recipe was just AMAZING! The cake was so moist and fresh, a success. Can’t wait to bake it again

    1. Hi Ayish, Instead of sour cream, you can use plain yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitution.

  9. Hello, Okay – this is my go to cake for all of our family’s birthdays. Its the only cake I am allowed to make!. I wanted to adapt this recipe to 6″ cake pans to make two smaller cakes for my two daughter’s joint birthday party. Is this doable? and how do you recommend I do it? … I’ve also made cupcakes out of this recipe many times! they are amazing! Thank you 🙂

  10. The cake was perfect, super moist and flavourful, not overly sweet. I followed the recipe almost exactly. Was unable to find heavy cream in stores this time so I used 33% cream with stabilizer, and it was great. Didn’t attempt the ganache, but shaved chocolate on top. Best recipe yet, thank you. I look forward to making it again will try using strawberries next time!

  11. Hi! I couldn’t find kitsch. Should I still brush the cake layers with the syrup from the cherries? Thank you

    1. Hi Amanda! Yes, you can definitely do that step without the kirsch.

  12. Hello, my fiance has make this cake on a number of occasions and I plan on making it for our wedding – I have just done a trial with 12″ spring foam pans and increased the quantities to suite. – unfortunately it hardly rose. Any hint/tips on getting a better rise. Baking powder and bicarbonate soda were used with plain white flour (believe that is ‘all purpose’

    Thanks for any help

    *this cake is delicious by the way

    1. Hi James! How is the texture? Does it seem dense or does it seem like you may need more cake batter? Did you multiply the batter? It can be best to make separate batches to avoid over-mixing the batter (which is easy to do with large quantities). Over-mixed batter will lead to dense cakes. Here’s our post on preventing dense cakes with more tips as well!

  13. I adapted this recipe by halving it and using 3 x 6 inch pans. Overall, it was super tasty but next time, I’d try and make the bases a little more chocolatey (I used both the espresso powder and coffee) and half the amount of ganache (plus really cool it) as I had a similar problem with it pooling at the bottom of the plate. Still delicious though and I’m sure it won’t last long!

  14. I made this for my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday last year. It was a family affair due to Covid. Some people thought it was from a bakery and were shocked when I said I made it. I used Amarena cherries, the best Kirsch I could buy(I love the stuff! Great in cheese fondue too.), and I added bananas to help hold up the cake layers and because I’ve been making Black Forest cakes like that for years. It’s a wonderful addition taste-wise and even though it browns when exposed to air, it still tastes great. Also, the cake froze beautifully which really astonished me. I’ve been using bits of recipes from different sources for 45 years and now I can follow yours with a few modifications. Thank you!
    PS. If you haven’t tried Amarena cherries and Callebaut chocolate to make this special cake, I highly recommend it. I’m mak8ng it again this weekend and my son’s fiancée requested it for their wedding cake. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  15. I’ve made this cake like 4 times and I absolutely love it. The chocolate sponge usually turns out perfect. I made it today and for some reason the cake turned out flat and fudgy, more like a brownie than a cake. I’m so puzzled, do you know what might have happened for it to turn out like that? Thanks!

    1. Hi Hadeel! Sounds like you may have mis-measured or skipped an ingredient, or even over-mixed your batter. Also check to make sure your baking powder and soda are fresh!

  16. I used sour cherries from the glass jar and used the juice from that. IT WAS AMAZING. Best recipe I’ve ever made. ever.

  17. Hi! So sorry if this has already been asked (couldn’t find it) – I’d like to adapt this into cupcakes! Do you have a recommendation on how long to bake the cupcakes?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Michaela, we’re unsure exactly how many cupcakes this batter will make (at least 2 dozen), fill them halfway with batter. About 20-22 minutes bake time at 350F. Would love to hear how they go!

  18. Where does the 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil go? It’s not included in the instructions, I’m assuming in the batter mix??? in the

    1. Hi Roj, the oil is listed in step 2. Beat the oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together until combined.

    1. Hi June, using a spoon, scoop the flour into the measuring cup. Do not pack the flour down and do not tap the measuring cup as both cause the flour to settle in the cup. After you’ve spooned the flour into the measuring cup, use the back of a knife to level off the top of the measuring cup. You can watch Sally spoon and level flour in the video in this How to Properly Measure Baking Ingredients post. Hope this helps!

  19. If I were to freeze the cake layers separately before assembling, should I still do the syrup while warm, then let cool completely and follow your instructions for freezing, or wait until the cake is thawed later to brush with syrup? I’m hoping to make and freeze in my third trimester and then assemble after baby is born.

    1. Hi Briana! We would add the syrup after freezing. Happy baking!

  20. Really good recipe! I made this cake for a department meeting and it was well received. I even shared the recipe with a few co-workers. Thank you so much for explaining the reason you use certain kinds of cocoa–that was really helpful.

  21. Do you think Luxardo maraschino cherries would work for this? So not the bright red kind of maraschinos but the more expensive Italian kind?

    1. Hi Julie, If they are packed in a heavy syrup then they should be fine. Let us know if you give them a try!

    1. Hi Janeway, we’re unsure exactly how many cupcakes this batter will make (at least 2 dozen), fill them halfway with batter. About 20-22 minutes bake time at 350F. Would love to hear how they go!

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