This Black Forest Cake combines rich chocolate cake layers with fresh cherries, cherry liqueur, and a simple whipped cream frosting.
Black Forest Cake was a staple when I was growing up (much to my dismay…read on).
You know, the grocery store kind with the nuclear red maraschino cherries? My mom loooooved that cake and always got it for her birthday, and often at other times throughout the year as well. This was epically disappointing to me.
Why on earth would you ruin a perfectly delicious cake with those sickly sweet, sticky, artificial tasting cherries? Whyyyyy? Needless to say, I ate around them, but they totally tainted the cake and frosting. Sad times.
Now that I think about it, it’s probably been a good 20-25 years since I’ve had that cake.
I’ve talked about my disdain for maraschino cherries before, and that feeling still holds true to this day. I have caved and used them as a garnish because I will admit, they look pretty and just go with certain desserts, but they get plucked right off before eating the cake.
Thing is, I actually love cherries. Real cherries. Fresh cherries. They are one of my favourite summer seasonal fruits. So, I set off to re-create the decades-old Black Forest Cake my way.
I promise you, this is one of the easiest cakes you will make.
It looks fancier than it is, and the chocolate bark was actually dead easy to make. The trickiest part of this cake is making sure you don’t have any lingering cherry pits in your cherries, which totally happened due to a less-than-stellar cherry pitter that broke after about 10 cherries.
Needless to say, it got returned.
So, super easy chocolate cake, a simple whipped cream for frosting, and fresh cherries. That’s really all you need.
In order to keep it traditional, I also made a cherry syrup (using kirsch – cherry liqueur) to brush onto the cake layers.
You can leave this out if you’d like to keep it kid-friendly or use a non-alcoholic cherry syrup.
How to Make Chocolate Bark
The chocolate bark on the side of the cake is much easier to make than it looks. I first saw this on my friend Janette’s Irish Chocolate Cake. She has a video tutorial to show you how to make it, and I basically followed her steps: melt chocolate, spread on parchment, chill, unroll.
The only difference is that I popped mine into the freezer for 20mins instead of the fridge for 30mins because I’m mega impatient.
I actually didn’t think it would work out, to be honest, since it was my first time trying it and all, but it worked great!
I actually thought my pieces were too big/thick and was thisclose to re-melting it and trying it again, but after I placed them on the cake they looked perfect.
You will have to work quickly with this chocolate bark — since the chocolate isn’t tempered, it will melt on contact.
I recommend using food safe latex gloves so that you’re not touching the chocolate directly. It will help a ton. I also popped the chocolate shards back in the fridge/freezer here and there to cool them off — it was a hot day too, so that didn’t help my plight.
At one point I actually had the cake and bark in the fridge and was placing the shards on the cake with the fridge door open (lol).
Desperate times. Is it Fall yet??
I used a vegetable peeler on a block of chocolate to create the chocolate shavings on top, and then used a 1M tip to pipe rosettes out of the whipped cream on top.
Really though, you could skip all the bells and whistles and just do a rustic frosting job with the whipped cream.
If you’re a Black Forest Cake fan, I hope you try this version! And if you’re not, maybe this recipe will convert you.
It is much better than the ones you can get at the grocery store, I promise!
Tips for this Black Forest Cake:
- You can leave the cherry liqueur out (though it is traditional) or use a non-alcoholic version.
- You can use maraschino cherries or use cherry pie filling instead of fresh cherries.
- When making the whipped cream frosting, make sure everything is chilled, as the cream will whip up better. I stick my mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer beforehand to chill them before starting.
- I used this technique from my friend Janette to create the chocolate bark. I recommend wearing food safe latex gloves when handling the bark, as the heat from your hands will melt the chocolate. Work quickly regardless!
- This cake will not keep incredibly long due to the whipped cream. I recommend eating within 1-2 days and storing in the fridge. I do not recommend freezing.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, see my Flat Top Cakes post.
Black Forest Cake
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 cup hot water or hot coffee
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
Cherry Liqueur Syrup:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cherry liqueur
Whipped Cream Frosting:
- 3 cup whipping cream cold
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 250 g good quality dark chocolate chopped
- 2 1/2 cups cherries pitted and cut in half
- 1 bar dark chocolate for shavings (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F, grease two 8" round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line bottoms with parchment.
- Place all dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
- In a medium bowl whisk all wet ingredients (pour hot water in slowly as not to cook the eggs).
- Add wet ingredients to dry and mix on medium for 2-3 mins. Batter will be very thin.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake for 45 mins or until a cake tester comes out mostly clean.
- Cool 10 minutes in the pans then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Cherry Liqueur Syrup:
- Place sugar and water into a small pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 min then remove from heat. Stir in cherry liqueur and allow to cool completely.
Whipped Cream Frosting:
- Whip cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks. Ideally in a cold bowl with a cold whisk.
- Melt chocolate over a double boiler or in 20 second bursts in the microwave.
- Using a large offset spatula, spread melted chocolate in a thin layer on a large sheet of parchment.
- Roll up from the short side of the parchment. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze until firm.
- Unroll to create chocolate bark.
- Cut each cake layer in half horizontally.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush generously with cherry syrup.
- Top with approximately 1 cup whipped cream and spread evenly. Top with approximately 1 cup of cherries and gently press them into the whipped cream. Repeat with remaining layers and frost the outside of the cake.
- Decorate with chocolate bark, chocolate shavings, rosettes, and cherries if desired.
I made this for my neighbour (who is German) and he loved it! The cake is prob the best anyone here had ever tasted! That alone is worth 5stars! I didn’t have time to go buy the pan wraps for flat top cake so I made some from tin foil with paper towel inside! It worked!!
Hi Robert! That is wonderful praise, thank you! Glad the tin foil trick worked too 🙂
c m says
This recipe is delicious, made it for a party and everybody absolutely loved it. Will definitely be making again.
Hi C M! Thank you! Glad everyone loved it 🙂
Absolutely best tasting cake ever. Very easy to make. Love the chocolate. Had to use canned cherries due to cherries not in season. Will definitely make again!
Hi Maureen! So happy you liked it. Thanks for the feedback and tips!
I absolutely love this recipe! I made it into cupcakes for a friend’s birthday and they were a big hit.
Definitely going to make this again! Thanks for sharing
Thanks for the wonderful feedback!
The chocolate cake recipe is a winner! Such a rich moist cake without being too bitter not too sweet. I did have some trouble with cutting the two cakes in half because just how moist they were and the cakes didn’t seem thick enough to cut into nice even halves – did I do something wrong? I weighed the batter in the pans before baking to get them as even as possible. Was this cake (as moist as it is) supposed to be easy to cut or is my knife just that terrible?? Help!
Hi Juliana! I am so happy you liked it. The cakes are definitely fragile/delicate. I usually cut them in half when they are chilled (either from the fridge or after thawing from the freezer). The cakes should bake up to be 2″ tall each so each cut in half is approximately 1″ tall.
Julianna: the problem may have been your baking powder or soda was past its prime! I have had that problem before; things just don’t rise well! I also like to use extra large eggs for cakes! Just seems to help get results. A long sharp THIN blades knife is also a must-have imho.
Anne Wright says
Impressed all my friends. They raved about how beautiful the cake looked, almost too beautiful to eat. As for the taste, absolutely incredible. Very chuffed with my results. Thanks for the recipe, truly inspiring and very thorough instructions. Perhaps a little time consuming but well worth the effort. I’ll definitely be coming to you for more delicious recipes. You’re a star.
Hi Anne! Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback. I;m so happy you and your friends loved it 🙂
Katherine Clark says
I made those recipe for a friend’s birthday… And it’s probably the most delicious cake I’ve ever had. I made meringue mushrooms for the top for that “forest” look. This is going straight to our favorites!
Hi Katherine! Love the addition of the meringue mushrooms! So perfect. Happy to hear you loved it 🙂
Hi! I’ve made this cake before and loved it but I’m wondering if i can make it into cupcakes? Or if you have a similar cupcake recipe.
Hi Samantha! For sure, all you need to do is reduce the baking time. Start checking at 15mins or so. The recipe should make 18-24 depending on size. The batter is very thin and rises a lot so don’t overfill 🙂
Andrew Garcia says
This recipe sounds and looks fantastic!
I have a question though; I would like to bake this cake but I do not have any all purpose flour. Can I substitute bread flour? If not what other flour would be appropriate? Thank you!
Hi Andrew! Bread flour is not ideal, it will make for a denser/drier cake. Do you have cake flour? That would be a better substitute though that will make the cake a bit more fragile. You could combine the bread and cake flour though for a happy medium. See this post for details.
Teddi Paul says
This was a WONDERFUL Christmas cake. Cherry tree dormant right now. Used Tillen Farms “Bada Bing” cherries with stems (Amazon). Took 3 jars. They were perfect. I drained them well.
Came out perfect and my office staff loved it.
Love these cakes. Made the white chocolate candy cane cake for church following week. Stunning.
Thank you for all the tips and lovely cakes ❤️❤️
Hi Teddi! Thanks so much, I’m so happy you and your staff loved it 🙂 Glad the cherries worked well and thanks for the tip!
Janet Sowards says
I made this for our Christmas dinner dessert and wow! Probably one of the most moist chocolate cake ever and the right amount of dark chocolate flavor. Since no fresh cherries, I used the canned dark cherries and the result was still so delicious. Used kirsch brandy since I couldn’t find cherry liquor, the result was very tasty. The whipping cream frosting added the perfect light sweetness and then the bark…OMG! The bark had the best texture/crunch. I used Trader Joe’s Belgium dark chocolate. My husband and his sons are partial to vanilla cakes but they couldn’t get enough of this cake. Definitely will be making this again and recommend it for anyone who’s looking for a Black Forest cake that has the right amount of chocolate, sweet and cherry flavor!!
Hi Janet! Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback and your tips!
Stephanie Albert says
This recipe was perfect and resulted in perhaps the most amazing cake I’ve made to date! Definitely more time consuming than most but worth it. The cherry liqueur wasnt easy to find so I made my own with tart cherry juice, sugar and vodka. Absolutely delicious!
Stephanie Albert says
I also stabilized the whipped cream using unflavored gelatin so it held up for transport and is still perfect the next day.
Hi Stephanie! So happy to hear you loved it. Thank you for your tips!!
Hi! Could I bake this cake using three round 6″ baking pans instead?
Hi Linette! Yes, that should work fine but make sure the cake pans are at least 2″ tall, ideally more. Or, don’t fill them more than half full. The batter is thin but rises a lot (doubles in size). I wouldn’t want a mess all over the bottom of your oven! You may need to adjust the baking time. Alternatively, you could use the chocolate cake recipe from this post which is made for three 6″ pans: https://livforcake.com/peanut-butter-chocolate-cake/
I am excited about making this cake for Christmas, but my local stored don’t have the cherry liqueur or the amoretti syrup in time for Christmas. What would you recommend for the cherry syrup?
Hi Kyndahl! Do they have maraschino cherries? You could use the syrup from those (though it’s not my favourite flavour-wise). If they have cherry pie filling you could also use some of that. Not an exact substitute but will help add some cherry flavour.
This cake looks delicious! I have a question about the Amoretti non-alcoholic Kirsch you linked. Is the substitution of it for the cherry liquer syrup the same amount? Thanks.
Hi Rachel! Since it’s already a syrup I would just use it straight up to replace the whole syrup recipe.
Hi! I love this recipe and was thinking about making a log roll version of this cake. Do you think the cake would crack when I roll it up or will it hold up fine? If not, what would you recommend? Thank you!
Hi Helen! For best results, I would use a chocolate sponge cake recipe specific for rolling. I can’t guarantee this one won’t crack. Plus the batter is very thin and doubles in size while baking so I think that could be tricky.
Hello, I am going to make this cake for Christmas. My mother and Oma and Opa are from Germany so I grew up having this cake every year on my Birthday. I’m so thrilled to of found your recipe. My question is….we are driving over 2 hours to get to my in-law for Christmas . Will the cake hold up in the car? Any suggestions for traveling with it? Or should I not attempt to drive with it. Will it be ok out of the refrigerator for that long?
Hi Renee! The cake is quite delicate actually. The whipped cream does not provide much stability. I would recommend making the whipped cream on site and assembling there.
Thank you for your response ! That is what I will do.
Blessings for a Merry Christmas
Hi Liv! How would one go about substituting strawberries for cherries? Also wanting to make it kid friendly. Thanks!!#
Hi N.Omar! You can just use fresh strawberries instead and a strawberry syrup 🙂
What size pans do i use for the double and triple recipe?
Hi Amy! Converting pan sizes is always tricky. Here are some sites I use as a guideline:
A Fernandez says
what are the dimensions of this cake? if it is 8×4 then I will surely present this for our laboratory exercise
Hi A Fernandez! The cake is made in two 8×2″ pans and then each layer is cut in half horizontally.