Black Forest Cake

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

Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand

This post is sponsored by KitchenAid.

Today’s blog post is one of the most special you’ll ever read here on SBA. I am both honored and excited to partner with KitchenAid for its 100 Year Celebration. This once-in-a-century celebration commemorates 100 years of KitchenAid inspiring culinary passion and creating new possibilities in the kitchen. The same core value launching KitchenAid back in 1919 is continuously instilled in the products created today: an inspiration by those who love to make…and I am certainly one of those people.

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue with chocolate cake batter

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue

slice of black forest cake on a white plate, the rest of the cake on a wood slice cake stand, and a blue stand mixer

My story begins around 25 years ago. I was about age 8 and sitting at the kitchen table with my grandmother. We were pitting cherries that we had just picked from her sprawling backyard garden. My fingers were stained, my teeth a glaring magenta– an obvious giveaway that I’d been sneaking the fruits of our labor. Garden Grandma, as my sisters and I called her, was teaching me how to can cherries. Her 1.5- acre garden was a passion project. She often worked from sun up to sun down; “lazy” wasn’t in her vocabulary. She preserved everything– green beans, peaches, pears, corn, pickles, tomatoes, and, of course, cherries. She grew raspberries and blackberries to make homemade jam and most definitely holds the prize for best pie crust on the planet. Her love for making didn’t stop there; her white KitchenAid stand mixer held a permanent spot on the counter. Garden Grandma’s kitchen was a playground for possibility. And although she left this world 7 years ago this very month, her legacy lives on as I build a career in my own kitchen.

Cherries were her favorite and when asked to build a recipe inspired by my memories in the kitchen, cherry cake came to mind first. Grandma and I share a love for the chocolate and cherry combination, so I made a black forest cake. If only we could sit down together at her kitchen table and share a slice!

What is Black Forest Cake?

This is my rendition of the traditional German black forest cake aka Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Today’s towering beauty has 4 parts:

  1. My go-to chocolate layer cake
  2. Dark sweet cherries
  3. Fluffy vanilla whipped cream
  4. Dark chocolate ganache

black forest cake batter in a glass bowl

2 images of pouring chocolate cake batter into cake pans and brushing cherry soaking syrup onto cake layers

2 images of cherries in a glass bowl and adding cherries to black forest cake

Chocolate Cake

The cake recipe comes from this tuxedo cake, which was adapted from my favorite chocolate cake. It has a cake crumb so moist and chocolate-y, it sticks to your fork and melts on your tongue. Curious about the ingredients used? Hop on over to that recipe for detail. One thing I’ll mention because it’s worth repeating: hot liquid is a must in this cake batter. Why? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve instead of just sitting there. For the hot liquid, I recommend coffee which will deepen the chocolate flavor. The cake will not taste like coffee, I promise! Or you can use hot water.

Cherries & Whipped Cream

Grab a couple cans of dark sweet cherries that are soaked in heavy syrup (the can is sold as such). Reduce the syrup down on the stove as the cakes bake. Have any cherry liquor around? Add a splash and brush the mixture all over the cakes while they’re still warm. This cherry soaking syrup guarantees the moistest, most flavorful chocolate cake you will EVER taste. Think of the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten. This one’s better and we have the cherry- soaking syrup to thank.

Those cherries from the can? They’ll be layered right into the cake, seeping their magenta juices into the vanilla whipped cream. Swirled pink, the whipped cream is light, billowy, and doesn’t weigh down the cake. While this black forest cake is certainly decadent, it’s not overly heavy. A breath of fresh air considering most chocolate cakes are dense as bricks!

Most of vanilla whipped cream is layered inside the cake, but be sure to reserve some to lightly spread on top and around the cake. This seals in the cake’s moisture. Have I mentioned this cake is moist?

Homemade Whipped Cream in a glass stand mixer bowl

How to Make Chocolate Ganache

Black forest cake is traditionally finished with chocolate shavings, but I took it a step further and opted for chocolate ganache. The crowning glory is a layer of dazzling chocolate ganache that gently drapes over the sides for mega drama. (Because when it comes to chocolate cake, there’s gotta be drama!) Made from heavy cream and pure chocolate, there’s no garnish more appropriate for this cake masterpiece.

I’m so excited for you to try this black forest cake, a recipe that came to life from the one who inspired me to get in the kitchen.

Sally decorating a black forest cake with flowers

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

Slice of black forest cake on a plate

Now let’s talk about the gorgeous stand mixer you see in all these photos! The 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer comes in a custom and classic color, Misty Blue– a soft blue with a hint of green that is reminiscent of one of the first KitchenAid stand mixer colors ever introduced. It displays a heritage-inspired KitchenAid® logo, a white-coated stainless steel bowl and a custom Power Hub cover celebrating 100 years of KitchenAid. 10 speeds, tilt head, 5 quart, a testament to the past 100 years!

While it may be KitchenAid brand’s 100 year anniversary, it’s a celebration for all of us. I invite you to post a photo on Instagram of your favorite memory of making in the kitchen and tag it with #MakingHistory100 and #SweepstakesUS for the chance to win a KitchenAid® 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer. No Purchase Necessary. US/DC 18+. Ends 11/24/18 11:59 PM ET. Click here for sweepstakes rules.

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Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand

Black Forest Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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


Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder*
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or coffee*
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup*
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry liquor (sold as kirsch or kirschwasser)*

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bars (226g), finely chopped
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup*

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups (480ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the chocolate cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, beat the oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the hot water or coffee, and beat it all until the batter is completely combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 21-25 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pans, then remove cakes from pans and set on a cooling rack. Be careful and use two hands when handling the cakes.
  4. 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 on a wood slice cake stand with a KitchenAid stand mixer in the background

Slice of black forest cake on a plate


  1. Hi Sally,
    Can I make this with fresh cherries? And how would I go about doing that ?

    1. Hi Sally,
      Thank you for the great recipes. I don’t have 9” pan. Can I bake a hole cake and divide it into three layers? The cooking time should be different?

  2. 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.

    1. Hi Courtney, thank you! You can use a hand mixer for this cake and the whipped cream. (Even a whisk for the cake batter would work.) Fill your cake pans halfway with batter.

  3. 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.

  4. Hi Sally!

    I am attempting to make this resipe for my wedding anniversary. However i do not have 9 inch pans. What changes if I use slightly smaller or bigger pans?

    1. Hi Eva! Happy anniversary! Use my cake pan sizes and conversions page as a guide when choosing another size pan.

  5. Angela Porch says:

    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.

  6. Angela Porch says:

    Thanks so much, it turned out great 🙂

  7. Sherry Marchand says:

    I would like to attempt this cake in a cupcake version. Any idea how to alter the cake recipe for me to do so?

    1. I want to make this cake in one pan , is it possible in 9 inch pan. And want want split from half, not very tall, please advise

  8. LeeAnne Gelfand says:

    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.

  9. LeeAnne Gelfand says:

    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. ❤️❤️❤️

  10. 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!!!

  11. 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,

    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.

      1. Thank you for your super quick response! Do you think it would be also possible to just do this in two thicker layers with 7×11 pans, and lengthen the baking time?

        I already have that and would prefer it over having to waiting to bake 3 times individually

  12. Alexandra S. says:

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. Janie Santos says:

    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! ❤️

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. Tabitha Tripp says:

    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!!!

  19. Bengi Harrison says:

    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.

  20. Currently eating a slice of this cake! It turned out wonderfully! We have a cherry tree and I found this recipe searching for ways to use up our cherries. To try to follow this recipe, I canned my cherries in a heavy syrup; I think next time I’ll make the syrup a bit lighter so the tartness of our cherries comes through a bit more. But this cake was such a crowd pleaser, and I think it’s even better the next day once the separate elements come together a bit more. Thank you for sharing this recipe! We’ll definitely make it each year when our cherries come in!

  21. I followed the recipe exactly and the cake tastes delicious, but turned out a bit dry. Any ideas for what might have caused dryness? I also found the amount of whipped cream to be too little to get good sized cream layers between each layer of cake, which also contributed to the cake being on the dry side.

  22. Hey Sally,
    Thanks for this wonderful receipe.
    It worked our just perrfecctttt… the cake was perfect and super Moist.
    Except i had no sour cream and used little more home made buttermilk and it worked well.

  23. I have 2 9 inch round pans. How would this change the cooking time? I’ve never made cake before and I’m making this for my Quarantine birthday cake!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Victoria, You can make this into a 2 layer black forest cake using two 9-inch cake pans. I’m unsure of the bake time but use a toothpick to test for doneness. Have a happy birthday!

      1. Thank you for sharing this recipe , it’s my mother’s 60th birthday and she adores Black Forest . I always make the buttermilk as opposed to shop bought and it was just Devine .

  24. David Swager says:

    Made this for 4th of July and even the old German lady loved it. But the canned cherries were too soft. They basically got lost in the cake and added no additional texture, just moisture and some flavor. I’m going to try with either frozen or fresh cherries and make a heavy syrup, but not cook them to soft, just enough to get the flavor in the sugar/water.

  25. Aysha Siddiqa says:

    Hi Sally,
    I want to make a kid-friendly cake, what substitute can I use instead of Krish or Krishwasser? And, will it make a difference in taste?

    1. See recipe note– it’s totally optional! No need to replace with anything.

  26. I am making the cake for my husband’s 79th birthday tomorrow – I have made many Black Forest Cakes but this one sounds like a true phenomenon! Made the cakes today and they turned out perfect, made the syrup reduction etc and tomorrow planned to do the whipping cream and ganache and assembly. My fear is the ganache will weigh down or even melt the whipping cream – I notice you say a “thin layer” so that means just a once over, no real volume? And if I let the ganache cool too much will it still flow or if I put it on too warm, will it melt the layer of whipping cream. I have only used ganache a few times in my life and feel really insecure about putting it on top of the whipping cream!! This question was not addressed in any of the other comments!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Danielle, When you are ready to get started, make the ganache first. It will then be able to cool down as you make the whipped cream and assemble the cake. By then it will be ready to just pour right over the top! You can see from the photos above that it’s not a thick layer like a buttercream frosting would be. After it’s all assembled place the entire cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving to make sure everything sets up. We hope he has a great birthday celebration!

  27. Sandy Chang says:

    This cake is one of the moistest cake I’ve ever had. I only used one can of cherries and that was enough. Instead of chocolate ganache, I used chocolate shaving.

  28. Wonderful cake! Baked it for my friend’s birthday and it was awesome! Thank you for the recipe.

  29. Hi Sally,
    If i would like to freeze the cake before icing it, should i still add the cherry syrup when it’s warm from the oven? Will this impact the final cake?

    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Isabelle, yes I recommend adding the cherry syrup while the cake is still warm. Cool the layers, then freeze. Here’s how to freeze cakes.

  30. Waoo!! Never made black forest as delicious as this! The chocolate cake is perfect. Thanks Sally♥️

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