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

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. 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 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!

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

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 (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.

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

367 Comments

  1. 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. 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. 🙂

  3. 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: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/18041/stabilized-whipped-cream-icing/

  4. 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!

  5. 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 🙂

  6. Hi Sally. Can I bake the cake as a Swiss roll for rolling? Thanks. Chloe.

    1. I personally haven’t tried it, but I can’t see why not!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Hi Sally, is it ok to sub sour cream with yoghurt?

    1. Sour cream or plain yogurt can be used interchangeably in this chocolate cake recipe. Great question!

  11. 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?

    1. Hi Aria! I suggest brushing it on the cakes before storing the cakes in the refrigerator.

  12. Hi Sally
    I served this stunning beautiful cake yesterday for a birthday. And EVERYONE looooved it!!!the birthday person took a picture of it as soon as he walked in the door! The look and the taste was phenomenal! Sally, you outdid yourself!
    Thank you for this awesome recipe!

  13. Hi Sally! My husband has requested a Black Forest cake for his birthday, but he doesn’t like whipped cream (I still love him 😉 Could you please recommend a good replacement frosting for this cake?

  14. Is it possible to make these into cupcakes?!

    1. Yes! Perhaps cut a hole in the baked chocolate cupcakes and fill with the cherries and then top with frosting drizzled with chocolate. Be as creative as you wish!

  15. Dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup…can’t seem to find this in Canada. What can be used as a replacement? At European specialty stores I have seen cherries in light syrup in glass jars, but I’m not sure if this would work.

    1. Cherries in light syrup should work just fine.

  16. Black Forest cake was always my favorite growing up, and I always requested it for my birthday. My mom would use a boxed mix, cherry pie filling and Cool Whip, which I loved as a child. I made your Black Forest cake today (for my birthday tomorrow), and it turned out amazing! So so good!! I had 2 oz of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate left from something else I made, and I poured the hot coffee over it to melt it and then added it to the cake. I didn’t think a little extra chocolate could hurt Thanks so much for another great recipe, and it was fun making my favorite childhood cake from scratch!

  17. I made this cake for my mom’s birthday. It was delicious and beautiful! I was surprised by how long the whipped cream held up – still going strong on day three. I loved the ganache topping also! I think you could get away with only 6oz of chocolate and 3/4 cup of heavy cream though – I had some leftover. I didn’t think this cake had strong cherry flavor, and I wasn’t a big fan of the chunks of cherry in the layers of the cake. Honestly, this would be delightful as just a chocolate cake with whipped cream and ganache if you omitted the cherries altogether! 🙂

  18. Hi Sally!
    Wanted to say huge thanks for the wonderful recipe. The cake was gorgeous and it is my husband’s favorite cake so I made it for our 1st anniversary. We loved it )))
    Thank you very much

  19. Outstanding recipe Sally! Everyone loved it!

  20. Hi Sally, Thank you for the recipe, The cake looks amazing. I would like to bake it in the next couple of days and wanted to know which brand of dark sweet cherries you have used. I didn’t find the canned cherries in syrup in Canada. I found frozen sweetened pitted cherries or tart filling canned cherries. Please let me know, which brand and where can I find it. Thank you very much

    1. Hi Karima! I used “Oregon” brand. It’s in a black can. They’re called “Oregon Fruit Dark Sweet Cherries In Syrup”
      You can try using frozen cherries. Thaw them, then cook down the juices they released. I have not tried this and there will be a slight loss of flavor without the heavy syrup, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  21. Brenda Milcetic says:

    Hi Sally. Can I make this BFC using cake and pastry flour. If so, do I use the same amount of flour, 1 3/4 cups? I know different flours weigh different amounts so just wondering. Also, the cherries can be found in Canada at Sav-On foods, I just bought 2 cans there this afternoon! (Just an fyi for one of your comments I read from a fellow baker)
    Thanks Sally

    1. Hi Brenda! I do not recommend using cake flour. The cake crumb is already so light and it won’t hold up properly with cake flour. All-purpose really is best here!

  22. Hi Sally,

    I made this cake for my birthday last weekend and everybody loved it, so this recipe is definitely a keeper! I had a slice of the leftovers yesterday and I think it tasted even better than the day before.
    However, I had to alter the recipe a bit, as I had only 2 pans (9.5 inch) so I reduced the amount of ingredients by a third. I also used canned cherry pie filling and cover the pie with left over cherries and grated chocolate instead of the ganache.
    I do think that maybe the chocolate cake was a bit dense? This may have been the result of the slightly lager pans, but I’m not sure. I was wondering if maybe, by seperating the eggs and beating the whites until they stand stiff and fold that into the batter (like you do in your Red Velvet Cake recipe), you’d get a fluffier cake? Do you think this would work?

    Thanks Sally and greeting from the Netherlands!

    1. Hi Mirthe! The cake crumb should be on the softer side, so I wonder if the reduction in batter that you made altered the texture. Would you be open to trying the full written recipe as instructed? It’s a very soft, spongey chocolate cake! That being said, beating the egg whites into peaks before folding into the batter always fluffs up the baked cake’s crumb. Let me know what you try next!

  23. Hi Sally! I made this cake last Friday for my boyfriend’s birthday and it came out amazing! Super delicious! The only issue I cam upon was whipping the whipped cream, but I finally got it down and it turned out fantastic! Not too bad for a first timer baking a cake! Thank you for the recipe!

  24. Is there any substitute for vegetable or canola oil? Such as coconut oil or olive oil?
    Thank you!

    1. melted coconut oil would be great!

  25. Hands down, the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made! It was for Christmas Eve and I forgot to buy kirsch, so I subbed with Amaretto since almonds and cherries go well together. It was a light, moist, not to sweet cake that was devoured in one night! Since it was so good, I used the cake and ganache recipe as a base for a chocolate orange cake and made it with cream cheese instead of whipped cream for a birthday cake. Again, gone in an afternoon. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing recipes, you’ve given me great successes!

  26. Hi! In really excited to make this cake for my boyfriends birthday, as black forest cake is his favorite!
    I was wondering if I could bake it in two pans, instead of three. And then halve each cake to make it four layers. Do you think that would work? I’m assuming they would need to bake for longer since they would be thicker, and I’d probably need more whipped cream for the frosting. Thoughts?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Arielle! That should be just fine. You’re right, the bake time will be longer since the cakes are thicker. A little more whipped cream frosting would certainly be helpful for assembling. Make sure the cakes are completely cool before slicing/layering them.

  27. Carol Wise says:

    I made this for my birthday celebration at work. More than one person at work and in my family said some version of this: This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. The whipped cream is the perfect offset to the chocolate, and the cherries add that something extra that puts this cake over the top.
    My birthday was on a Tuesday so I made the cakes, whipped cream, and chocolate ganache on Sunday night. When I started the assembly on Monday night and took the ganache out of the fridge, it went through many rounds of 5-10 seconds in the microwave. I miscalculated when it seemed the right consistency to run down the sides of the cake without being too runny, and it just sat around the edges of the cake in heavy blobs without dripping… My husband and I knew heat thins the ganache so we decided to try a hair dryer. Bad move. It started melting off at a frightening rate! I let it cool in the fridge just a bit and then started to gently paste the ganache back onto the sides of the cake until it was all covered. Back into the fridge to get that to firm up. The next morning before work, I used a big metal spoon with a heatproof handle over the stovetop flames and used that heated spoon to smooth out the sides for a really beautiful cake. Crazy how we got there but there’s always a way!

  28. I made this cake for my German grandma’s 90th birthday and everyone absolutely loved it! We were at a restaurant and had left overs and shared it with the wait staff who loved it too! Thank you for another amazing recipe.

  29. Sally, this cake is amazing! The chocolate cake layers baked up perfectly flat-topped and moist, and the flavor was wonderful. It had a slight reddish hue, even though I used an alkalized cocoa powder (Rodelle brand dutch-processed). I was very pleased the different cocoa didn’t alter the results, but I wonder how it got such a similar result with the alkalized cocoa? Anyways, it was my first time doing a chocolate ganache drip and I love it! It sets slightly in the fridge so it can just be peeled of the cake, but is still soft and delicious. I used dark chocokate in the ganache and also made some dark chocolate decorations by piping cherry shapes onto a piece of parchment paper. Also, I made a cherry filling out of fresh cherries, a bit of cornstarch, sugar, and water, which I cooked over the stove until thickened. Overall, a really delicious cake that I will definitely make again!

    1. So glad to read this! Thank you so much for sharing how you made/decorated the cake. I do recommend a natural cocoa powder, but I’m actually unfamiliar with the Rodelle alkalized dutched cocoa. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in stores, but I’ll have to check it out!

  30. Help! I have to start baking Black Forest Cake tomorrow morning. I didn’t find dark sweet cherries in syrup anywhere. I have can of cherries- pie filling and topping the one use for pies or cheesecakes. Dear Sally for rescue- do you think it will work?

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

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