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

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

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue

Super moist black forest cake with chocolate chip, whipped cream, and dark sweet cherries. Recipe on

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

How to make Black Forest Cake cake batter

How to make black forest cake

Cherries for 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

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.

How to decorate Black Forest Cake

Super-moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, and dark sweet cherries are Black Forest Cake! Homemade chocolate cake on

Slice of black forest cake

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.

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
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. 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. The cakes can be slightly warm when you do this.
  5. Slice the cherries in half, leaving a few whole cherries for garnish. Set aside.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Assemble the cake: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Slice of black forest cake


  1. Devaki Dravid says:

    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..

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback 🙂 I’m thrilled you loved this recipe!

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

    1. So happy this was a hit for your daughter’s birthday! Thanks for your positive feedback, Lynn 🙂

  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.?

    1. Sure can! Cover tightly and store it in the refrigerator.

  5. Connie Walters says:

    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!

    1. What a delicious birthday cake! I’m thrilled this recipe was a hit- thanks for your positive feedback, Connie 🙂

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

    1. I’m thrilled it was a hit!

  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!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Emma, and I hope you had a great birthday!

  13. Hi Sally! I am going to make this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday next week. I want to use 6″ round cake pans though since it’s just the two of us eating it 🙂 Would you recommend halving everything in the recipe? Thanks!

    1. Cutting it in half should work. I hope he has a great birthday!

  14. I haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitute, but please let me know if you do.

  15. Sakina Bedawala says:

    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. 🙂

  16. 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!

    1. Here is my favorite vanilla cake recipe– buttery, great flavor, soft, but sturdy for these layers.

  17. Sally would you recommend cutting the kirsch if making this cake for a child on their birthday? I know it’s simmering on the stove but I’m not sure if it is cooked long enough for the alcohol to evaporate

    1. Hi Lauren! That is completely up to you. You can leave it out, substitute with some cherry juice, reduce it to only 1 Tablespoon, or leave it as is. Between cooking on the stove and again in the oven, the alcohol cooks out.

  18. 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!

  19. I’m going to try making this for my son’s 25 birthday…he’s definitely a chocolate lover and just learned that he has become a cherry love, too! My mouth is watering (and my arteries are clogging) just reading this recipe!! Thank you for all the wonderful & helpful tips…fingers crossed that I can pull it off!

  20. 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!

  21. 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. Jessica Walker says:

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

  22. Hi Dally, can you use cherry pie filling? For some reason they discontinued the cherries in heavy syrup in my area. Thank you and blessings to you!

  23. Hi Sally ,
    Recipe looks very promising wanted to know can cover this with buttercream n put under the fondant.

  24. Julia Cipparulo says:

    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).

  25. 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

    1. I’m so glad this recipe was a hit, Nikki!

  26. 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.

  27. Sally, I cannot find sour cream here in Brazil, may I use plain yogurt instead?

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

  28. 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!

  29. What was the brand of Bing cherries you used? I have M’lord Bing cherries. Would really love to know what you used! Thanks!

    1. Hi Vitina! I used “Oregon” brand. It’s in a black can. They’re called “Oregon Fruit Dark Sweet Cherries In Syrup”

      1. I made the cake and it turned out wonderfully. People wouldn’t stop commenting on how delicious it was! This Is a keeper!

  30. 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!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love



Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally