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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. Hi! I’ve been looking for a good black forest cake recipe for FOREVER! It’s my dad’s favorite cake, so I’m going to try making it for him for Father’s Day 🙂

  2. Absolutely amazing… I made this last night and wow.. super delicious..super moist..
    I followed the recipe to a T and was not disappointed…
    Thank you Sally..

  3. Made this cake last weekend for my daughter’s birthday. So moist and delicious! The ganache is superb!!

  4. Hi Sally! Can’t wait to make this cake for my son. 🙂 Can I make the soaking syrup in advanced? If yes, where should I store it? In the refrigerator or room temp.?

  5. Made this for my daughter’s birthday. She wanted chocolate and cherries. It was delicious and everyone loved that it seemed so light. Will definitely make this again! Thanks Sally!

  6. Hi Sally I tried your black forest cake recepie and it was a massive hit. Everybody loved it

  7. Made this cake for my husband’s birthday and it is truly the most delicious Black Forest cake ever! So moist and not super over the top sweet. Our whole family is in love ! Thanks Sally!

  8. I just made this cake for my dad’s birthday and my entire family loved it; delicious cake, not too dense, love the whipped cream frosting! I made the individual components the night before, left the cakes covered on the counter and stored the rest in the fridge. I assembled the cake the next day and everything went well without any issues. I did have leftovers of the ganache, whipped cream, and syrup but those can be used for ice cream toppings! This was my first time making a from scratch cake and I’m so glad it turned out well!!

  9. This cake was fabulous! I made it at the request of a friend for her birthday. It also had to be gluten free. I used gluten free baking flour and it was perfect! Very moist and light. My friends loved it!

  10. I made this cake for my brother’s birthday and it was beautiful and delicious. The cake layers were moist and tender, as well as the perfect size. I used whipped cream and cherry pie filling for the inside. Thanks for this recipe! ❤️❤️

  11. This looks so delicious and I’m adding it to my recipe list. I’m curious, though. Does the whipped cream keep it’s shape? I’m worried it will be runny.

    1. Hi Molly – as long as it’s whipped properly when you make it, it won’t deflate inside the cake! You can see the first recipe note if you want to make this ahead of time. Enjoy!

  12. Hi, Sally! I love your website so much and all of the recipes of yours that I have tried have come out beautifully!
    I made this cake last week for my birthday and it was incredible! I didn’t have espresso powder so I omitted that, and the canned cherries were hard to find so I used cherries that I had frozen. I used the juice that came out of them when they were defrosting to make a syrup with the kirsch and it turned out beautifully. I would probably use a little less cream for the ganache next time, as it turned out a little thin, but this may be because I didn’t let it chill long enough before putting it on the cake. The base recipe for the chocolate cake is a winner, too, and I will definitely use it again! Thank you!

  13. Sally your black forest cake recipe is a winner! I made it on the weekend for my son’s 16th birthday and it turned out to be a crowd pleaser. The cake was gone. My family just ate on. 🙂

  14. Hi sally! I want to make this cake, but instead of the chocolate cake, I want to make w/ a vanilla. Which of your recipes do you suggest making w/ this and why? Thanks!

  15. Very tasty! Recommend spreading the cream around the sides of the cake like in photos so that the ganache drizzles evenly down the sides. I had trouble finding the cherries at my large grocery store but surprisngly Trader Joe’s had them!

  16. Hey Sally! I have a question about your Black Forest Cake. I cannot find buttermilk without carrageenan, so I’m going to do the whole milk and lemon juice trick. Since the recipe calls for 1/2 cup buttermilk, am I adding 1/2 tsp of lemon juice to 1/2 cup whole milk? I just want to be sure I’m reading it all correctly! I’m making this cake for a friend’s birthday, and I want it to come out great. Thank you!! Very excited to try this out.

    1. Hi Toni, I would put the 1/2 tsp of lemon juice into your measuring cup and then fill the rest up with milk so that you have a 1/2 cup liquid total. I hope your friend loves it!

  17. Hi Sally, I’ve always had Black Forest Cake in my bucket list! I can never find kirsch in my side of the world – is there any other alcohol I can sub? Thank you!

    1. Hi Candy, If you can’t find any cherry liquor you can leave it out, or simply substitute with some cherry juice!

      1. Cherry juice like from the canned cherries? I can’t find the liquor either.

  18. Hi Sally!
    Is it possible to turn this recipe directly into a rolled Yule log cake?

    1. Hi Julia! I haven’t tried this recipe as a jelly roll cake for a yule log so I can’t say for sure, but you can try chocolate roll cake recipe instead. Feel free to dot the whipped cream filling with the cherries as you do here, though.

      1. Julie, this is probably too late to be of use, but I made it into a Buche de Noel/Yule log this Christmas and it was fantastic. I added an extra egg to make the cake more sponge-like (see my comments below).

  19. The chocolate cake alone is fantastic, but as a base for the cherries and whipped cream deff takes it over the top.. best chocolate cake I have ever eaten / made and it was a huge hit this Christmas! I’ll save this as my go to chocolate cake recipe from now on

  20. Wow! This cake was as delicious as it is beautiful! I made two for family Christmas parties – one regular and one gluten free – both were excellent. The recipe makes plenty of extra ganache and whipped cream, which is nice. Thanks for sharing – this one is a keeper and will be in the holiday recipe rotation.

  21. I have been using your recipe as the base for a black forest cake made with sour cherries from our garden and my husband said it’s the best thing he’s ever tasted in his life. For Christmas, I wanted to see if I could try and adapt it to a Buche de Noel. I didn’t want to mess with the recipe too much because the cake is so delicious in its original form, but added an extra egg to the chocolate cake recipe to make it a bit more sponge-like and easily rollable. The resultant cake turned out a little moister than is ideal for rolling, but it still rolled well enough; although the sponge cracked a bit in places, once it was rolled I covered the whole thing with whipped cream, so you couldn’t see the imperfections. As I didn’t think the roulade would work with actual cherry pieces, I just used a thin layer of cherry syrup on the cake under the layer of cream rolled inside. I didn’t put any ganache on it this time, but will try next time to make it even better. It truly was delicious. Thank you for the original recipe!

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

      1. Me too Amber I was intimidated! I love Sally. I love the way she writes and nothing I’ve made from her site has ever let me down. I know she won’t lead me astray. So I tried it anyway yesterday for my husband’s birthday.

        Short version: DELICIOUS, but BETTER the 2nd day out of the FRIDGE, (just use waxed paper over the ganache so it stays pretty before wrapping in plastic).

        Long version: This cake just has a lot going on, and I was a little intimidated even though I’ve made countless chocolate cakes with vanilla buttercream and had great success baking all sorts of things things, even elaborate buttercream decorating since I was 12…still…nervousness.

        I saw that there are 5 components to this cake (!!!)
        1. Chocolate Cake (not nervous there)
        2. Cherry Syrup reduction using cherry liquor as well, that you brush on each layer…new to me. *eyes get big with self-doubt*
        3. Cherries drained and halved ( let mine drain through mesh sieve a LONG time.)
        4. Ganache (which I needed to put on last, but I didn’t want it to get too cool…and I didn’t want my whipped cream to get warm)
        5. The whipped cream.

        Anyway, I was nervous…I knew I’d sort of need to work quickly and not burn the syrup and not boil the heavy cream. Also, didn’t want it to “melt” or slide. I’m not as experienced with using whipped cream in layer cakes. I made sure my layers cooled a long time and I covered with parchment after brushing the cherry syrup on so they wouldn’t dry out.

        Everyone LOVED this cake. I used those even-bake strips that you wet and secure around the pans, so I didn’t need to level my cakes. Assembly wasn’t perfect, the small pile of cherries on top slid a little to one side. (but I used 3 cans of cherries minus a handful because the birthday boy wanted some, and I wanted to make 2x’s as much syrup, 1/4 cup means like half of that is going to stick to the pan, and I didn’t want to skimp…I think next time, fresh cherries with stems for the garnish on top.

        Once we cleaned up from dinner and dessert, I knew a cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream had to be refrigerated. I put WAXED PAPER over the top and partially covering the sides, and then plastic wrap over that and around cake plate and refrigerated it. You won’t believe this…

        The cake was BETTER today as leftovers! So yummy chilled, so moist but not soggy. The waxed paper separated very well from the ganache when it came out of the fridge (it seems like it won’t if you check right after putting it on at room temp). The cake was still pretty and yummier! It was prettier looking at the slices because the whipped cream had turned pale pink near the cherries in the layers.

        WHEN I make this cake again (my son has requested it with raspberries or strawberries for his birthday in 3 weeks), I will make it a day ahead, postpone adding the garnish until right before, and I will serve it chilled.

        This is a fluffy, creamy, fruity and chocolate-y delight.
        * Thanks again Sally for another winner. *

  24. 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.

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

      1. Hi Sally! I love your website and everything I make from your recipes is gold! I’m prepping for this cake but like the comment above couldn’t get myself to splurge on the liquor! Would we proceed as normal with reducing the syrup on its own on the stovetop? Also, I wasn’t able to get cherry juice as a substitute but I did get Cherry preserves in a jar. Do you think that would work as a substitute for the liquor?

      2. Hi Jay– correct– reduce the heavy syrup from the can of cherries. (Only without the liquor.) No need to add cherry preserves unless you want to!

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. Made this cake yesterday and it was a big hit. Very moist. I made 3 eight inch cakes. I love it

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