Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)
What’s not to love about a wonderfully rich German dessert made with layers of moist, tender chocolate sponge cake sandwiched together with a tart yet sweet cherry filling and fresh whipped cream?! The Black Forest Cake (called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German), which originated in the Black Forest region of Germany, features cherries soaked in Kirsch (a cherry brandy also from the Black Forest region) and the resulting sweet, spiked cherry syrup is brushed on top of each cake layer. A creamy, chocolate-cherry dream, this visually stunning and decadent cake is a holiday showstopper.
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee granules
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup hot water or coffee
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
30 oz pitted Morello cherries in syrup (sour cherries in a jar or can), drained and juice reserved
4 tsp cornstarch
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup Kirsch or cherry liqueur
Whipped Cream Frosting
4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
12-16 whole fresh cherries
4 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely grated
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line the bottoms of each pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix briefly on low speed until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, buttermilk, water, eggs, and vanilla until combined. (Pour the hot water in slowly as not to cook the eggs).
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. (The batter will be very thin.)
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. (I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.)
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Drain the jar of cherries, reserving the liquid. Place the drained cherries in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Measure out ¼ cup of the reserved liquid and mix with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set aside.
In a medium pot set over medium-low heat, add the sugar and another ⅓ cup of the reserved cherry liquid. Bring to a gentle simmer to dissolve the sugar. Then whisk in the cornstarch slurry and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until it thickens into a thin syrup.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Kirsch. Pour the syrup over the drained cherries and allow to cool completely before using.
Whipped Cream Frosting
In a cold bowl, use cold beaters to whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.
German Chocolate Cake Assembly
Cut each cake layer in half horizontally so you end up with four total cake layers.
Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate and brush the top generously with the cherry syrup.
Top the cake layer with approximately 1 cup of the whipped cream and use an offset spatula to spread into an even layer. Top the whipped cream layer with approximately 1 cup of the Kirsch-soaked cherries (using a slotted spoon to drain the cherries) and gently press them into the whipped cream. Place another cake layer on top of the cherries and top with the cherry syrup, whipped cream, and cherries. Repeat this process with the remaining layers.
Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining whipped cream. Top the cake with whole fresh cherries and decorate with chocolate shavings.
Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to develop and the syrup to soak into the cake. Remove the cake from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving. Slice and serve proudly!