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

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. 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. Sally, you are a goddess. I have never made a three-tier cake before, but decided to try this recipe for my Dad’s birthday. It earned rave reviews and I will not be able to buy a black forest cake from a store again. It was rich, moist, and absolutely delicious. Thank you for inspiring me to bake.

  2. Hi sally, i will be making this cake for a 50th on Thursday and I’m going to be completely covering it with buttercream flowers will the cream stand up to that weight?or should i put a buttercream ring on each layer to hold the cream and cherries in?
    Thanks mel

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melanie, It should be fine but adding a ring of buttercream around the edges would give you extra assurance that the whipped cream won’t squish out. Let us know if you try it!

  3. I made this for myself for my 30th birthday; it was wonderful and everyone loved it! Not difficult to make either, but still impressive and beautiful! Not too sweet either. 🙂

  4. Delicious cake! I didn’t have three 9” cake pans so I just made two cakes, chilled and then split them. Those layers were a little too thin, so next time I’ll get another cake pan or double the cake batter.// I put two bags of frozen cherries in a sauce pan with 1/2 c water, 1/2 c sugar, 1 T corn starch and a small airline size bottle of cherry brandy. Brought to a boil and simmered for a few minutes. Cool then remove cherries. Cover cherries and sauce and chill.//Next day I whipped 8 ounces of room temp cream cheese with about 3/4 a cup of powdered sugar. Then gradually added 3 cups of whipping cream and 1/2 tsp of almond extract, beat, scraping the bowl frequently until it holds its shape. // To assemble place a layer of cake on a stand, brush with cherries sauce, top with whipped cream mix spreading to the edge, dot with cherries, spoon a little sauce on top and repeat. I had four layers of cake with three layers of filling. Top with cream, ganache and cherries. Fantastic!

    1. Hi Julie620r — I failed to find the right canned cherries at the grocery store and am going to try and follow your instructions. Do you know about how many ounces of cherries you used / how many ounces are in a bag of the frozen cherries you used? Thank you!!

  5. Dannene Kondor says:

    Made it and it was loved. Thank you for the great recipe!

  6. This cake is so moist and delicious. Absolutely stunning! Thanks for sharing this great recipe. Stay safe and God bless.

  7. This recipe IS AMAZING!
    The cake is superb. I’m feeling like experimenting and making cupcakes following your cake recipe, filling them with cherry jam and topping the with cream cheese frosting!
    Any recommendation to adapt the cake part to cupcakes?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andres! We’re unsure exactly how many cupcakes this batter will make (at least 2 dozen), fill them halfway with batter. About 20-22 minutes bake time at 350F. Would love to hear how they go!

  8. Sally I plan to make this cake this week but have only found kirsch in larger bottles. Is there a good substitution for the kirsch and/or will leaving it out not affect the taste significantly?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Becky, The cherry liquor is optional, see recipe notes 🙂

  9. Are Morello Cherries okay to use? These are the only jar/tinned cherries I could get at supermarket. Also are fresh cherries okay to use? We have them in season at the moment.


    1. Hi Deb, while we haven’t tested it ourselves, readers have used them with no problem. Cook down the juice just as directed in this recipe.

  10. Brenda Zuzolo says:

    I adapted this recipe to use the Hershey’s cocoa chocolate cake recipe (my go to). I used buttermilk and added a tsp of espresso powder to the cake; baked it in 2 9” layers. My Aldis had sweet dark Morello cherries. I used 1/2 c of the juice and a Tbsp of cherry brandy cooked down for the syrup. I omitted the ganache but made dark chocolate curls for the top and sides. This makes a lovely lighter version of Black Forest Cake, perfect for our family. Thanks so much for your fantastic recipes which inspire me!

  11. My almost-4-year-old requested a “cherry, chocolate, cream cake, with extra cherries” for her birthday. This looks perfect and, like EVERYTHING on this site, it WILL be perfect, I know. I’ll update after I’ve had the chance to make it.
    And just a quick thank you – the extra info you provide (the difference between Dutch and natural cocoa, for example) makes me a better, more educated baker. You’re an absolute gem and one of the best things the internet has produced. Thank you, Sally!

  12. Yum! I was a little worried the whipped cream wouldn’t be a good substitute for frosting but it was perfect combined with the cherries. It turns out chocolate ganache really isn’t my thing but otherwise I just adored all the flavors together.
    I don’t have three pans and didn’t refrigerate the extra batter like I have for other three-pan recipes and it turned out great.

  13. This is the best black forest cake I had bake , so simple to prepare and yet moist and light. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe

  14. No Please, Not Again No, Please Stop says:

    Honestly, I came here for a recipe, not a diary blog. I understand that some people really enjoy it, and it may not be my cup of tea, but to be treated to this time-wasting nonsense every time I try to look up a simple online recipe makes me want to die.

    1. Larger scale websites with multiple authors may be more what you’re looking for such as Allrecipes or Food Network. If you find a recipe on my blog you want to try, the Jump to Recipe button at the top of each page is helpful.

      1. Sally, your patient response in regards to the “time-wasting nonsense” comment was inspiring — kudos to you! I plan to make this cake Sunday for my daughter’s birthday. And thanks for sharing the difference between natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powder — all this time and I never knew…

  15. I made this over the weekend for my wife’s birthday, and it came out perfect! Excellent instructions with use of easy-to-find ingredients. I was a bit worried that it might come out too sweet like most desserts, but this was just right! The chocolate ganache made the cake look and taste amazing! I am not a baker by any stretch of the imagination, but this was very easy and inspired me to do more.

    Thank you, Sally!

  16. There are a lot of Black Forest cake recipes to choose from on the internet these days. You can stop searching: This one is a winner.

  17. This looks amazing! I am going to make it tonight but can not find Kirsh anywhere, can I use Jacquin’s Wild Cherry Brandy

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tara! That may be a bit sweeter, but should work just fine. The cherry liquor is optional (see recipe notes). Happy baking!

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