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 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

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue

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

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

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. 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.

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

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!

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 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
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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


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


  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.


  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.

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

Slice of black forest cake on a plate


  1. What a beautiful cake and such a lovely memory of your grandmother. My baking grandma died when I was 4. I do have some memories of her that are super special. She was a mid-western famer’s wife. My grandpa had no problems hiring hands to help at the farm because you got 2 meals made by my grandmother. One of my sweetest memories is making cinnamon rolls with her and eating the whole pan!

    1. I bet those cinnamon rolls were fantastic! What sweet memories you have of your grandma 🙂

  2. Can’t wait to try it! And I loved your post!

    1. Thank you so much Melanie!

  3. This is literally fate, I have been searching for a Black Forest cake to make for my hubbys boryhday this weekend, you didn’t have a recipe on your site until today, can’t wait to try it out

    1. Perfect timing! I hope you love it- let me know what you both think 🙂

  4. This looks delicious! I was going to make chocolate cake this weekend and a black forest cake sounds perfect! But can I halve this recipe since my family is small?

    1. Thanks so much Julie! Halving the recipe works; I would use three 6-inch cake pans. Or you can halve the recipe and make black forest cupcakes 🙂

      1. SherryinChicago says:

        Thanks so much for ideas on scaling back since I am baking for two. Any ideas on about how many cupcakes a half recipe would make?

      2. You’re welcome! I would say 12-16 cupcakes. Fill halfway. About 20-22 minutes bake time at 350F.

  5. Hi Sally,

    I’m wondering if there is a typo in your first paragraph…the last sentence did you mean to say “bake” instead of make? Apologies in advance if I’m mistaken, I know it’s late and everything, but I keep rereading the sentence and can’t quite understand it. And now for the important comment: Wanna guess how many times I’ve made the star bread this past week? More than 1 and slightly less than 5!!! I’ve made quite a few variations: pesto and parmesan, cinnamon and chocolate, (I used a filling from a rugelach recipe), 3 cheese and finally white chocolate/peanut butter. Love the recipe, (just stated the obvious, I know!), but I have trouble making the triangles even, so it looks a little off kilter, which is why I keep practicing. The kiddos don’t seem to mind cause it tastes good! Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Hey Lisa! I really meant “make.” 🙂 KitchenAid is celebrating makers, people who have a passion to create in the kitchen whether that’s cooking, baking, blending, etc!

      Your rugelach filled star bread has my mind swirling with new filling ideas for the holidays! Isn’t it a fun bread to create? Even if the star’s points aren’t perfect, it’s fun to practice. I absolutely LOVE savory versions. Pesto and parm sounds awesome.

  6. I love black forest cake! Yours looks absolutely amazing! So decadent and festive ♥

    1. Thanks so much Natalie!

  7. Oh my goodness Sally!!!! Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous…gorgeous cake, gorgeous mixer, gorgeous photography, gorgeous story…<3<3<3<3 Love this post!

    1. I’m thrilled you loved today’s post, thank you Gemma!

  8. I had to tell my husband that I’m a little jealous of your life! Lol. You are so lucky to be able to partner with KitchenAid and that mixer is so beautiful! I would love to enter the contest but I am Canadian. My husband requested that you send him some Black Forest cake (lol) it is his favourite!
    In all seriousness though, this cake looks incredible! My hubbys birthday is December 6th so you timed it well! 🙂
    I adore the stories of you baking with your grandmother. Sadly, none of mine bake. My great grandmother was an incredible baker and a pie lady but my mom never learned from her and I wish she had so she could have passed her recipes down to me!

    1. Perfect timing for your husband’s birthday! I hope you both enjoy it 🙂 Report back and let me know what you think!

  9. Such a beautiful post!

    1. Thank you so much!

  10. Sally hi! Can we sub the cherry liqueur with rum or what other types of liqueur are suitable? Thank you!

    1. Hi Siew! I actually haven’t tested it, but it’s worth trying. Rum would be excellent.

    2. Hi Siew, I have tried it with rum and Amaretto, both work!

      1. Thank you!! 🙂

  11. Sally, thank you so much! My Dad’s 75th birthday is coming up and chocolate and cherries are his favorite combination (as in, if you are feeding him a cherry pie, there better be chocolate ice cream to serve with it!) I have always heard that black forest cakes are dry, so I never considered making him one, but this will be perfect.

    Would there be any drawback to using bittersweet chocolate in the ganache? He loves dark chocolate….

    1. Chocolate ice cream and cherry pie! I love chocolate and cherry AND ice cream and cherry pie… but have never served cherry pie with CHOCOLATE ice cream! If he loves dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate would be fantastic in the ganache. It will be extra extra dark!

  12. This is your masterpiece, Sally!!! Beautiful!!!

    1. Thank you Stefanie!

  13. First of all, CONGRATS on the amazing partnership with KitchenAid!!! That’s really big! Unfortunately, their products are not available in my country (Serbia) so I can only dream of having one. 🙁 Hopefully one day – soon (fingers crossed!).

    Second – YEEEEEEEEY (jumping from joy)!!! Seriously, I cannot express how happy I am that you posted the Black Forest cake! I know I mentioned in one of the past posts that I’d be thrilled to see your version of this cake and I am literally speechless! Thank you, thank you! 🙂 This will definitely be my go-to dessert for Christmas! Can’t wait! 🙂

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed today’s post! I hope you love this recipe- it would be perfect for Christmas so you’ll have to let me know what you think 🙂 Happy baking!!

  14. Kayla Brownlow says:

    This looks beautiful and delish!! Do you have an recommendations on what to use instead of cherries (for picky eaters) or could they just be left out?
    Congrats on this amazing partnership!!

    1. Hi Kayla! Thank you! I’m thinking maybe raspberries or strawberries? Or you can leave the fruit out completely for a whipped cream/chocolate cake/ganache masterpiece. 🙂

  15. The cake is beautiful, but where did you get that incredible wooden cake stand??

    1. Thanks Karen! I got it from Pier 1. It’s my favorite!!

  16. This cake looks AMAZING. I just made your regular chocolate layer cake (but with blue vanilla frosting) last weekend for my son’s bday. It was loved by all. But this looks seventeen notches more wonderful!! Cherries are one of my faves, too!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! Your son’s birthday cake sounds incredible- I’m thrilled it was a hit 🙂 Hope you love this recipe!

  17. Oh my goodness, this looks so good!! Did you get a haircut? It looks so good!

    1. Thank you so much Mackenzie! I did get a haircut 🙂

  18. I was so excited to see this post/recipe! I was searching SBA just last week for a black forest cake recipe to make for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary! My mom always made her version of black forest cake when I was growing up and I wanted to return the favor. I ended up making your zebra cake for their anniversary party (was dee-lish!) – but now I have yet another reason to bake again for my mom and dad! Thanks!

    1. Congratulations to your parents! What a reason to celebrate 🙂 I hope you and your mom both enjoy this black forest cake recipe- let me know what you think!

  19. Great pictures! They’re so throwback, good job!

  20. I have a question about stabilizing whip cream. Mine turns flat & runny after a few hours. I have read you can use cream of tartar, bit of cream cheese, melted marshmallow…what is the best way to keep whip cream looking beautiful & fluffy? I normally just use powdered sugar & it always turns runny.

    1. Hi Sharon! I actually don’t stabilize whipped cream very often, so I haven’t tested many alternatives. It’s on my bucket list. When I’ve made it, I use gelatin and water. Great results. I actually used this very recipe:

  21. Am sorry I was born and raised in Germany and this is not how a Black Forest Cakecis supposed to look like. And you dont put a ganache on top of it.

    1. Hi Susanna! Thank you so much for your feedback. I’m not following a traditional recipe. Inspired by my grandmother, this is my rendition of German black forest cake aka Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. 🙂 Feel free to leave off the ganache!

  22. This is gorgeous Sally, I have to try ! I think this could also be perfect for Christmas – I know I am already thinking of Christmas, that’s our next holiday in the UK.

    1. A beauty for the Christmas holiday, I agree.

  23. This cake is stunning, Sally – a true work of art. It’s amazing to view the evolution of your decorating skills over the years since you began this blog (I’ve been reading since late 2013)! Black forest cake reminds me of my nana, too, who’s gone from this world but I remember on her last birthday, this was her only request. She didn’t care about presents or a special dinner or a giant gathering – all she asked was that my mom and I make her a black forest cake. It’s amazing the memories that come from food!

    1. It’s truly amazing how food can elicit such fond memories! Thank you for your kind words, Hayley!

  24. This cake looks so incredible!! (My mouth is watering just looking at it!) My Dad will absolutely love this recipe and I cannot wait to make it for him. Move over pumpkin pie… may have to add this to the Thanksgiving dessert table!!

    Side note: That Kitchen Aid Mixer is GORGEOUS!! I may have to look into getting a new mixer sometime soon…… hehe

    1. Thank you so much! I hope this cake makes an appearance at your Thanksgiving celebration 🙂

  25. Hi Sally,
    Your recipes are my absolute go-to when I am baking! I have made your triple chocolate layer cake dozens of times. Everyone who has had it can’t stop talking about it and my family has become real chocolate cake snobs 😉 Because we love it so much I haven’t tried making the tuxedo cake version that subs in sour cream (also used here) but am interested to try. Since you said this is your go-to chocolate cake, I was wondering, is there ever an instance where you would make the original recipe again, or has that been retired to this one with the sour cream? Thanks!

    1. I’m thrilled you and your family enjoy my triple chocolate cake! It’s still one of my favorites- I definitely love that recipe 🙂

  26. I can’t wait to make this! Would you use Amarena Fabbri cherries? Also as a side note, I made the pumpkin cinnamon chip cookies but used white chocolate chips instead…OMG. Your cookie recipes are the best…love them all!

    1. Hi Kelly! I’m not familiar with those, but from what I just researched- I think they would be fine to use in this black forest cake. And your cookies sound incredible- so happy you enjoyed them 🙂

      1. Hi, I made a black forest cAke with amarena cherries and they were DELICIOUS. They came in a wonderful dark thick sweet syrup. I got them off Amazon.

  27. Yum! I love my Kitchen-Aid mixer. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Hope you love it, Ashley!

  28. RedHairedLady (Laura) says:

    Gorgeous mixer AND gorgeous cake!

    How fortunate that you have such wonderful memories of spending time with your Grandma in her kitchen! Both of my grandfathers died before I was born, and both of my grandmothers died when I was very young, so I never had the experience of having grandparents. I hope I’ll get to be a grandmother someday, so I can make some kitchen memories with grandkids.

    Thanks for the giveaway and all your wonderful recipes!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂 It was truly a gift to spend time in the kitchen with my grandmother, some of my most favorite memories!

  29. The only time I ever made a Black Forest Gateau was at the specific request of a colleague for his post-PhD viva celebration. He was very particular about what he wanted, and I think I covered most of it except for the mirror glaze! However, I did have the added pressure of a Bavarian colleague in the office, so I downloaded a number of recipes and sent them to her to find out which was the most authentic. She approved my final effort anyway – but the office have a habit of doing that regardless! This looks good…

    1. Sounds like you made a delicious cake! 🙂

  30. This cake looks gorgeous and I love the idea of making it as a festive holiday cake – perfect timing! I also loooove using my KitchenAid and am excited to see your partnering with them! I will admit that I never quite understood how much easier it makes baking until experiencing myself…I can’t live without it, and I may just need to convince the hubby that we need to invest in that awesome “heritage-inspired” one! So pretty!

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you’ll try this recipe- let me know what you think 🙂

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