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. 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.


  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. Can I use cherry pie filling in its place? I cannot find canned dark cherries anywhere or what do you recommend for a substitute

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brittney, You can layer the cake with the cherry pie filling. Skip the reducing the syrup/brushing the syrup on the cakes steps.

    2. Vali Honoria Aisi says:

      Dear Sally
      Made this for my daughter’s birthday last week, and this was my first ever black forest cake baked from scratch – I have to say, this is a new family/friends favourite! An absolute gem of a cake! In fact, I have 3 orders already placed by my family and friends, so yea this is super awesome.
      Thanks Sally!

  2. If I only have one cake tin, can I bake all of the batter at once and then cut into 3 separate layers after the cake as cooled?
    Or would it be better to divide the batter into equal parts in bowls, and bake each part in the same tin one after another?

    1. Not sure why everyone is ignoring your question, but I recommend baking one part at a time. Trying to cook all the batter at once may lead to batter overflowing the pan and/or the batter being undercooked in the middle. Based on the recipe, I’d say try to average it out to 400-500ml per batch.

  3. Can I use raspberry or strawberry instead of cherries?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, either should work. Happy baking!

  4. Heike Mattias says:

    This is the BEST CAKE EVER!!!
    my son wanted a “cake with cherries on top”for his 6st bday. I’m half german, I lived in Germany for many years, so I thought Ok, Schwarztwalder Kirchtorte it will be! but I didn’t have the recipe, as this is maybe my less favorite cake… until now!!
    The chocolate cake is so good! is amazing!!! and the cake all together too much!
    The only thing a changed a little bit was the cream, I used whipped cream-cream cheese frosting instead of just whipped cream, for more stability and because I just love that cream!!
    EVERYBODY had more than 2 pieces of cake, it was soooo amazingly delisious.
    This is our whole family new favorite
    thank you Sally so much for this delicious and easy recipe!!

  5. Roxie (Roxicake) Holmes says:

    I am so excited to deliver this cake for an anniversary today. The couple did not want my sugarfree cake. So l turned to you the expert! I trust your posts and now this will be another great event cake too! Thank you Sally!

    1. Christi Franks says:

      Sally, this is my middle son’s very favorite cake of yours (for me it’s between this one and your triple chocolate) and he wants me to make it for dessert for his wedding rehearsal dinner, except in cupcake form. Should I do anything different? How can I make the whipped cream a bit stiffer so that I can swirl it on top of the cupcakes and then drizzle with the ganache? Thanks for any help you can provide!

      1. Late reply – I’ve seen a few different variations on “stabilized whipped cream” that would result in a slightly stiffer whipped cream that lasts longer at room temp. The most common version adds about 1tsp powdered gelatin + 3 tsp water for each cup of heavy cream that is whipped, but I’ve also seen recipes using powdered milk, cream cheese, or even some dry pudding mix. A search for “stabilized whipped cream recipe” should help you out!

  6. Jessica Walker says:

    Can’t wait to try it! All I see at my store is canned bing cherries. Is that the same as the canned dark cherries the recipe calls for? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jessica, those should be just fine to use here.

  7. Made this for father’s day over the weekend, and I’ve never made a black forest cake before – I have to say, this is a new family favourite! An absolute gem of a cake! Thanks Sally!

  8. Made this cake for a friends birthday. It was delicious. Moist tender chocolate cake
    with whipped cream and cherries. Brushing each layer with reduced juice and kirsch
    made for increased flavor and moistness.

  9. It came out perfect
    Thank u for the recipe. Loved it to bitss

  10. Hey, I just wanted to know that if I don’t put the cherry liquor in would it make a big difference to taste? Also what brand dark cherries in syrup did you use and where did you buy it from?

    1. Hi Sofia! You can skip the alcohol. (See recipe note.) The brand of cherries is Oregon and I found it at my regular grocery store with the canned fruits.

  11. Can I use Marschino cherries?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi AB, Unfortunately we do not recommend maraschino cherries. See recipe notes for details.

  12. Baked this cake for my birthday and it was an absolute hit! So moist and tasty. Thank you for doing what you do

  13. I love this cake but had some difficulty with stability! I found that the creme squished out the sides and the cake was rather lopsided. Any tips?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Riley, Make sure you are leveling each cake layer before stacking (we just use a large serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface) and that your whipped cream is reaching the soft peaks stage so that it’s not too thin.

  14. Can I use bottled morello cherries inatead of tinned?

    1. Yes, the morello cherry is an excellent choice for this recipe. You can find them for a great price at Trader Joe’s!

      1. Thanks I did use them. Just now put cake together..will send pic if I can.

  15. Can i get the alternative for sour cream

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  16. My tip is if you need to use Dutch process cocoa, add half a teaspoon of citric acid powder. I can vouch from experience turns out just as spectacularly good.

  17. Ma’am, can the ingredients be halved so that i can bake in only one tin as i have only one tin of sizes 7,8 &9 each. And which tin size should i use.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Priya, That should be just fine to cut it in half and bake in one 9 inch pan. The bake time will be a little longer since your cake will be thicker, use a toothpick to test for doneness.

      1. Kritika Mehta says:

        Hey can this cake be made without eggs? Any other alternative may be?

  18. Hi, I am making this cake for a friend’s 50th bday but I need to transport it 1.5-2hrs by car. I am worried that the cream isn’t going to hold up. Even if I assemble it there I won’t have any way to whip cream onsite. Would you recommend something else for the icing or do you think it will hold up assembled or in the make ahead containers? I’m just so worried about the cream!
    Also side question, have you ever tried the chocolate cake with gluten free flour? Thoughts?

    1. Hi Kat, I recommend placing this assembled cake in the freezer for about 2 hours before your trip. Starting out that cold, it should last the 1.5-2 hours by car. I recommend a cake carrier for transport. (I swear by cake carriers for storing cakes, too!)

  19. Hey Sally!! I plan on making this for my husbands birthday in a couple weeks! I’m so excited as all of your recipes have been a hit in our household!

    One question: instead of using 3 9 in. pans, am I able to use 3 8 in. pans and just lengthen the bake time a bit? Thanks so much and thank you for having a passion we all benefit from 🙂

  20. Hi Sally

    I am really keen to make this for a friend. Please please can you tell me if i dont have 3 9 inch pans. Can i make 2 first and then third after they first two have baked please? I am just worried because of the leavening agents leaving the batter out will make it go weird

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rukhsana, you can definitely bake 2 layers first! Just cover the bowl of remaining batter with a clean kitchen towel while the first 2 layers bake. I hope your friend enjoys the cake!

  21. This is by far the best black forest cake I have ever eaten or made. Absolutely delicious in every way

  22. Hello! I was thinking of making this cake for my birthday. I was wondering if sour cream is an essential for this recipe because it isn’t available in my locality. If it is essential, are there any substitutes I could use?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  23. Best cake I’ve ever made.

  24. Absolutely love this recipe, made this for Halloween, and my family loved it . The chocolate cake was so moist and rich, best Black Forest cake I ever made. Your scone recipe are a hit in my family as well, is my go to recipe for all kinds of scones. Yummy, thank you!

  25. Hi Sally, I am planning to make this cake for my dada 60th birthday (black forest is his absolute favorite, and he has never had a home.ade one before!). Instead of Cherry Liqueur, could Grand Marnier be substituted instead? Thank you!

    1. Hi Nicole, Grand Marnier would be a great substitute. Hope he enjoys the cake!

  26. Dana Grollman says:

    Can I use pitted Amarena cherries from Trader Joe’s if I remove the stems?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dana, Those should work, yes!

      1. Thanks. Is the cherry liquor clear? Mine is kirshwasser cherry brandy. Did I buy the right one?

  27. Delicious!
    I made it for a friend’s birthday, and it was a hit.
    I do not bake often so am not an adept baker, but this recipe was easy to follow and turned out great.
    The notes and substitutes were helpful and worked great.

  28. Hi, my cake looks amazing. I have put ii in fridge as I need it for tomorrow. Should I cover it while it’s in fridge or can it be stored uncovered?

    1. Hi Sandy, you can leave it uncovered for several hours, but I recommend covering it if you’re storing for longer than 1 day.

  29. FYI, don’t leave ganache for longer than 10 min before pouring onto cake. Mine sat for 30 and I poured it on and, having never worked with ganache before I had no idea it was too thick/cooled so it sort of just sat on top and as I tried to encourage it to run over the sides it turned into a big mess. The cake looks terrible to be honest but hoping it tastes good.

    1. The cake was absolutely delicious and everyone else loved it despite the appearance (“like some diarrhea’d all over it” according to my husband ).

  30. Dana Grollman says:

    I bought cherry brandy that is clear and has Kirshwasser on it. Is this the right one or do I buy one red in color called cherry liquor? Very confusing.

    1. Hi Dana, that brandy should be just fine in this recipe.

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