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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 rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
  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 more about the importance of room temperature ingredients. 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 dutch-process vs. natural 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 absolutely love this cake I have used this recipe a number off times now with different frosting. Its become my go to for chocolate cake. The only problem I have with it is that its extremely sweet. Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe without compromising the consistency of the cake? Also if noticed every time I make it my cake has an oily residue on it is this normal or am I doing something wrong?

    Thank you 🙂

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

  2. Hi Sally! A beautiful recipe once again. However, this was my second try making black forest cake. It turned out to be a bit soggy and kind of falling apart even though it was baked to the core. Here in Pakistan, it is diffuclt to find the same ingredients that you have listed so I didnot have sour cream or buttermil. Instead, I justjustused used milk with lemon in it, 1:1. Could that be the reason? Please advise.

    1. Hi Nayab, replacing the sour cream and buttermilk with a thinner liquid will definitely produce a thin batter that’s difficult to properly or evenly cook. I recommend subbing the sour cream with yogurt instead. (And make sure you’re using natural cocoa powder, not dutched– not sure which you used!)

  3. Thank you for this beautiful recipe. This cake was a show stopper and I briefly considered giving up my nursing career for amateur baker! Thank you for the great notes- that is what made my cake a success. It is wonderfully rich, decadent, and visually stunning. Looking forward to feeding my amateur baker fantasy with your list of top 5 recipes.

  4. I just made this cake for my dad’s birthday and it came out great! Very beautiful presentation. I was nervous about the ganache but the recipe’s simplicity gave me the confidence to get it done. I had to make my own cherry syrup from the juice in the jar because I didn’t have access to cherries and heavy syrup, but it tasted great after the second try (1 tbsp of corn starch was just enough to thicken it). Additionally, I added kirschwasser to the whipped cream icing, and soaked the cherries I put on top of the ganache in the liqueur for a little extra oomph! Thanks for this recipe, Sally!

  5. Thank you so much Sally – where would we be without you? It’s an odd time for birthdays, but being in quarantine with family, I made this yesterday to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Black Forest is her favourite and I’ve never really been a fan. My husband doesn’t like sweets either… but O.M.G. this cake!!! Between the 4 of us, we ate half of the cake in one sitting!!

    Your instructions and guidance made it easy and it turned out perfectly! I can’t believe how much my husband and I even loved it, my parents both agreed it’s their new favourite cake and my dad already requested it for his birthday too!

    I used 6 inch pans to make it cute, but it was so high that it slanted lol, I call it the leaning tower or black forest!

    Thanks so much!
    PS. I can’t wait for you to come out with another book!! I’m hoping you one day make a ‘healthy’ book ¨(like the healthy section of your first book), only you make healthy so tasty!! Thanks again!!

  6. Wow! This cake was fabulous! My 23 y/o son wanted a black forest cake for his birthday and this was the golden ticket! The cake was moist and the filling and ganache were divine! It was big hit with everyone. There were quite a few steps, but it was helpful to bake the layers the day before and I appreciated that there was no buttercream frosting to mess with! I am a terrible cake decorator, but this cake looked and tasted great. I almost gave up because I couldn’t find the cherries in the grocery store – remember to look with canned fruit…NOT with cherry pie filling! There is a sad ending to this story…there was about a quarter of the cake left and I dropped it and my china cake plate (wedding gift) on the floor. It’s hard to say if I was more upset with losing the rest of the cake or the plate! Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

  7. Hello! I was wondering for the whipped cream, would only 1 cup of heavy cream be enough to cover the entire cake? I only have that much on hand and I want to make this for Mother’s Day! Is there any way to add more liquid (like milk) to the heavy cream to make more of it? Thanks in advance!

    1. You may have enough whipped cream for between the layers but not the outside of the cake if you cut the recipe in half. Do not add milk to the heavy cream or it will not whip up.

  8. Followed the recipe exactly. But there was only enough mixture for 2 nine inch and a very thin 8 inch tin.

    Did I over mix? I can’t understand why I didn’t have enough for the tins.

    It’s a great recipe though. I’ve used it on smaller tins and it has worked perfectly.

    1. Hi Kat, no need to measure the cake batter or anything– simply divide the batter between 3 pans. The cakes rise considerably. Glad you enjoy the cake!

  9. Hi Sally, I’ve just made the cakes, turned out great. Plan to assemble tomorrow for our 17th wedding anniversary…wondering if I can add some sugar to the cream in the ganache to sweeten the chocolate a bit. My husband & kids prefer a sweeter chocolate …your thoughts please, other suggestions? If you think doable how much sugar would you suggest? Thanks, L

    1. Hi Lianne! Happy anniversary. You can add sugar to the warming cream. I recommend a couple teaspoons. You may taste the sugar granules in the ganache, though. A couple teaspoons of corn syrup or honey would be better.

  10. I made this for Mother’s Day, and my mom said this was the best Black Forest cake she has ever had! I switched out the cherry liquor for amaretto because that is what I had and the almond flavour really added a nice flavour. It was also a beautiful cake to look, which really made it feel extra special. Thank you for such an amazing recipe, I will definitely make this again!

  11. I made this cake recently for my husband’s birthday – he’s German and this is his go to birthday cake. I’ve made several different renditions of this cake over the years and this, by far, is the absolute best. I followed the recipe exactly and the cake looked gorgeous, sliced perfectly, and tasted ahhhmazing!! Everyone loved it. And, it actually tasted better the second day!! Thank you Sally for such a perfect recipe and for your easy to follow, flawless instructions. Your recipes always come through. And, this cake aside, the chocolate cake is my new go to for any chocolate cake I make.

  12. Simply the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever tried! Tender and pillow-light, absolutely delicious on its own. I’ve baked it a few times and found it like it better when I omit the salt.

  13. Hi Sally, just curious, because it seems like my oven can’t bake 3 pans at a time, can i bake it in turns, or it can affect the outcome of the cake.. thanks for your answer

    1. Hi Bram, bake the batter in batches. Keep the unused batter lightly covered at room temperature.

  14. Made this recipe for a birthday – just a heads up, definitely on the expensive side to make. The cherry liquor alone is in the 30$ range so save this recipe for a special occasion. That being said, it was totally worth it. I shouldn’t have used all the chocolate ganache though, it covered the entire cake, unlike the picture, which made it a little less classy looking haha. Also the cake tastes SO GOOD when chilled overnight. Overall, amazing and will definitely make it again!

  15. Hi Sally

    How long will the whipped cream retain its shape if I want to Pipe some swirls on top and cover the outside of the cake with a thicker layer

  16. This looks fabulous!!
    I plan on making this for my boyfriend next week, it’s his birthday. He’s never had a cake made from scratch before, and requested a black forest cake or an orange cake.
    To truly spoil him, I’m making both. But, I’m making them in 4inch spring form pans. So he has two tiny personalized cakes.

    I plan to follow the instructions and measurements to the T and just reserve the extra batter. I just had a few little questions I couldn’t seem to find answers for in the comments here.

    I don’t have a stand mixer, would a small hand mixer (or even just a whisk and a lot of elbow grease?) Be alright for this?
    And about how much batter should I put into these pans? I see you said it rises significantly, so should I be filling it to less than half way, more than half way? I just don’t want to over fill my little pans and wind up with a sunken in cake.

  17. Hi Sally!!
    I have a quick question.
    Can I use cherries in light syrup ? Which is all I can find 🙁 Or would it be better to use cherry pie filling?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Maribeth, you can use cherries in light syrup instead of heavy syrup. No changes necessary.

  18. Why all purpose and not cake flour? Will either work well? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Angela, Some recipes simply can’t withstand fine cake flour. Chocolate cake, for example, already has cocoa powder— which is a VERY fine dry ingredient. The combination of cake flour and cocoa powder usually results in a flimsy cake.

  19. By the time I realized my cocoa powder was the no-no kind to use, it was already on top of the flour. My cakes sank. Is that why? How may I correct that going forward until the evil Dutch-processed is all used up. Thank you.

  20. I made the cake; it was an inaugural event. Could not find canned, or jarred, cherries here in . I opted for fresh, against your recommendation, and halved them and soaked in Kirsch overnight. I only had Dutch processed, so my cakes sank. I filled the divets with whipped cream. A five star recipe; great lessons all along the way. I am a better more knowledgeable baker because of you. I can only improve!!! I am thrilled with myself. Thank you from my heart for you. ❤️❤️❤️

  21. Made this as written and it was simply amazing.
    I will be making it again and I think the only change will be to add more kirsch to the cherries for a stronger alcohol taste (as that’s what we are used to from Germany) but this recipe is a keeper!!!

  22. I don’t have any cake 9×2 in pans, but have an 8×2 inch square pyrex baking pan. Looking up the volume in your link here https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/cake-pan-sizes/,

    I should just be able to use that pan to bake the three layers since they are both 8 cups, correct? Or is there a problem with leaving the batter on the counter while waiting for one layer to bake at a time?

    1. Hi Jenna, you can use that size pan. Keep the batter lightly covered at room temperature as you wait for the pan to be ready again.

  23. Hi Sally,

    Hoping to make this for Father’s Day, as my Dad’s parents immigrated from Germany and this is his favourite! I just have 2 questions for you:
    – I could only find a 9 inch springform pan. I was reading online and it said that I should be able to use this (baking x3), do you agree?
    – I would be using a hand mixer, no KitchenAid (yet!), so hoping that would be alright

    Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. Hi Alexandra! You can definitely use 9-inch springform pans here. And, yes, a hand mixer works wonderfully for the batter and whipped cream. You could even whisk the batter by hand.

  24. Hands down delicious cake. Well written recipe, thank you Sally for sharing. It has a lots of steps but well worth it. I did have to make more whipped cream to finish it up as the 2 cups didn’t make enough.

  25. Hello Sally,
    I made this cake for Fathers day and it was amazing! wasn’t able to find the dark cherries, but used cherry pie filling instead just added sugar to make it sweet. The chocolate ganache was a bit thick, didnt get the perfect drizzle but still very good! Thank you for sharing this recipe with us! ❤️

  26. Thanks for this lovely recipe! Made it for fathers day and ended up baking in 2 7×11 pans because I was lazy and didn’t have cake tins. Also I skipped the ganache as I think it would be too much/too sweet. Still, turned out great and everyone loved it!

  27. Made this today for my husbands birthday. It came out PERFECT!! The cake is so moist and chocolatey. I had doubts that this cake would look pretty, but it was so easy to make it look nice!

  28. Hi Sally. I really love all your recipes and read all your blogs. I tried the exact same recipe for the cake. But my cake sank in the middle. I used herseys natural coco powder. The second time I see 3/4 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder. It sank a little less. What am I doing wrong. Is there a brand of soda/powder you recommend.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Swetha, it sounds like the cakes could have benefitted from extra time in the oven. (Though a little sinking is normal since this cake is so moist and the batter is so thin.) I typically use Clabber Girl baking powder and Arm & Hammer baking soda.

  29. Holy cow was this worth the effort!! We couldn’t find dark cherries in heavy syrup, so we made our own with frozen black cherries, sugar and corn starch. (Added bonus is no fake sweetners, which ruin canned cherries for us)
    We also substituted Silk non dairy whipping “cream” for the dairy heavy whipping cream. It doesn’t whip up as stiff and fluffy but it saves us the tummy troubles.
    Amazing yummy recipe!!!

  30. I made this for my husband’s birthday and it was a big hit. Thanks for this perfect recipe and I will make it again and again, for years to come.

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