German Black Forest Gateau
Every bite of this Black Forest Cake is loaded with creamy chocolate and juicy cherries. Three deep, dark, rich and chocolaty Devil’s Food cakes are doused with cherry liquor, layered with sweetened vanilla whipped cream and tart Morello cherries, and topped with dark chocolate ganache.
If you’re a chocolate and cherry lover, get ready to swoon.
This is a gloriously messy cake.
It’s the kind of cake that consumes the attention of all your senses, leaving your face smudged with chocolate while you lick cherries and whipped cream from your fingers in a state of total bliss.
Black Forest Cake is unapologetically sexy. And that’s why we love it.
The Gorgeous Decadence of Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake (Black Forest Gateau if you’re British) comes to us from Germany, a country that is so serious about Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry-Torte) that they actually have legislation around it. If you own a bakery in Germany and want to call one of the cakes on your menu Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, the cake is required by law to include kirschwasser, a sour cherry liquor.
Which makes me wonder… Are the Germans serious about their cake or their sour cherry liquor? It doesn’t matter. If I was a lawmaker, this is the kind of legislation I’d be interested in. German lawmakers, you’ve got your priorities straight.
Here’s what you need to know to make the most delicious Black Forest Cake ever.
#1. Start with layers of the BEST Devil’s Food Cake
I think I made about 24 layers of Devil’s Food cake the week I developed the recipe. I baked and tweaked and baked again until our house was literally overflowing with chocolate cake. We were the chocolate cake house. There are worse places to live.
In the end, I had a recipe that consistently produces three perfectly level layers of supremely rich chocolate cake.
The cake is almost creamy, teetering on the edge of brownie-like consistency, yet still manages to hold its own when stacked tall and layered with delicious ingredients like whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate ganache.
#2. Without the Cherries, Black Forest Cake is just Whipped Cream and Chocolate
I mean… I don’t want to imply that there’s anything wrong with whipped cream and chocolate. But, it’s the cherries that make this Black Forest Cake.
First of all, you heard the Germans. Brush your layers of Devil’s Food with some cherry liquor. You just gotta. I used Dr. McGillicuddy’s Cherry Liquor, which is dangerously delicious. We’re all lucky some of it ended up in the cake.
Then, gently mix a bit of Morello Cherry Preserves with some Dark Morello Cherries. Morello cherries are slightly tart, gorgeously plump and juicy cherries that are dark and delicious. To make this cake, I had to buy two jars because I know myself well enough to know that I was going to eat a whole bunch in the process.
I highly recommend you seek them out for Black Forest Cake.
Their tart flavor is a wonderful contrast to the dark chocolate cake and sweetened whipped cream. Plus, they are meaty enough to retain their shape and hold their own when sandwiched between all that chocolate. My favorite brand of Morello Cherries is Trader Joes, which I usually order from Amazon along with Mrs. Bridges Morello Cherry Preserves.
#3. How to Successfully Stack all those layers
One of the things that makes this Devil’s Food Cake Recipe so fabulous is how tender the crumb is. However, this lovely characteristic can also make stacking three layers over all that whipped cream and cherries a bit challenging. No matter. Just freeze the layers of cake for at least 1 hour (and up to 3 months) and assemble your Black Forest Cake with ease and panache. Ease because it will be easy, and panache just because you can.
If you’re working with completely frozen cakes, make sure to let the assembled cake sit out at room temperature for 3-4 hours before serving to allow the cake to thaw. Once thaw, be sure to refrigerate the cake.
#4. Chocolate Ganache is Awesomesauce.
Chocolate ganache is pure magic. Made from nothing more than cream and chocolate in varying proportions, it can be used as a candy (chocolate truffles), frosting, or glaze. For Black Forest Cake, I used a 1:1 proportion of chocolate and cream. The mixture will start out thin enough to pour, but as you let it cool it thickens up into this…
Black Forest Cupcakes
This exact same recipe can be used to make Black Forest Cupcakes if you’d rather. Here’s what to do:
- Bake a batch of Devil’s Food Cake following the instructions for Devil’s Food Cupcakes.
- Once the cupcakes are cool, fit a pastry bag with a large round or star decorator tip and fill it with Morello Cherry Jam. You’ll need about 2 cups of jam to fill 24 cupcakes. Poke the pastry tip into the center of each cupcake and squeeze some jam into the center.
- Fit another pastry bag with a large star tip and fill it with whipped cream. Pipe a generous amount of whipped cream onto the top of each cupcake.
- Decorate the top with a few Morello Cherries.
Used in this Black Forest Cake Recipe:
- Trader Joe’s Morello Cherries in Light Syrup
- Mrs. Bridges Morello Cherry Preserves
- KitchenAid Mixer
- Large Cupcake Decorator Tips (for making Black Forest Cupcakes)
- Revolving Cake Decorating Stand
More Great Devil’s Food Cakes:
Every bite of this Black Forest Cake is loaded with creamy chocolate and juicy cherries. Three deep, dark, rich and chocolaty Devil’s Food Cakes are doused with cherry liquor, layered with sweetened vanilla whipped cream and tart Morello cherries, and topped with dark chocolate ganache.
- Three 8-inch layers Devil’s Food Cake – freshly baked and still warm
- 24 ounces Dark Morello Cherries in Light Syrup
- 4 tbsp Kirsch or Cherry Liquor
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
- 20 ounces heavy cream, divided
- 4 tbsp powdered (confectioners) sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cherry preserves, preferably Morello Cherry Preserves
- Drain the cherries over a bowl to catch the juice. Combine 2 tablespoons of the cherry juice with the Kirsch or cherry liquor and brush over each of the cake layers while they are still warm, letting the liquid soak into the cakes. Let the cakes cool completely, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour. (*See note)
- Put the chopped bittersweet chocolate into a bowl. Heat 8 ounces of the heavy cream in a saucepan or in the microwave until it is just beginning to simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate, let it sit for 5 minutes undisturbed, then stir until all the chocolate is melted and it’s perfectly smooth. Place, uncovered, in the refrigerator until thick enough to spread, stirring from time to time.
- Meanwhile, beat the remaining 12 ounces of heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Make sure to beat the cream until it’s quite thick – beating it almost to the point where it begins to transform into butter.
- Combine the drained cherries with the cherry preserves, stirring gently so that you don’t smash the cherries.
- Lay one cake layer on a serving platter. Top with 1/2 of the whipped cream, spreading the cream to within about 1/2 -inch of the sides of the cake. Top with 1/2 of the cherries, spreading them out over the cream. Top with a second cake layer. Spread the remaining whipped cream over the second cake layer and top with the remaining cherries, reserving 8-10 cherries for the top of the cake. Top with the third cake layer.
- Spread the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake and decorate with the reserved cherries. Let the cake sit out at room temperature for 3-4 hours to allow it to thaw. If you’re not serving it right away, cover it loosely and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Freezing the cake layers simply makes the cake much easier to assemble. Devil’s Food Cake has a very tender crumb – a quality that makes it meltingly delicious, but also makes stacking a bit challenging. Freezing the cake layers for at least 1 hour (and up to 3 months) makes assembling Black Forest Cake a piece of cake. 🙂
- If your cake layers have been frozen for more than 1 hour, let the assembled cake sit out at room temperature for 3-4 hours to thaw before serving. After letting the cake thaw at room temperature, refrigerate the cake if you’re not serving it right away.
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