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Black forest cake

This is not just any cake – I promise you. Black forest cake is something special. Homemade chocolate cake, a rich cherry filling and homemade whipped cream…this is a cake that sits atop most cakes. And you should absolutely make one.

What is black forest cake?

The traditional black forest cake recipe is German and is actually called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. It gets its name from Kirsch liqueur which is made from Black Forest (in Germany) sour cherries.

Typically black forest cake is chocolate cake layered, with cherry and kirsch filling (the Black Forest part) and whipped cream between each layer. The cake is then decorated with piped, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. And I mean, who would say no to this?? Nobody that’s who.

Not a traditional black forest cake recipe, but the best black forest cake recipe nonetheless…

And this is where my recipe comes in. Not totally traditional, but still awesome and worth making.

What you need for this recipe:

  • My favorite chocolate cake recipe that I constantly (like in my blackout cupcakes)
  • A decadent cherry compote with fresh (or frozen) regular cherries cooked down with water and Luxardo sour cherry syrup; when I first decided to make this cake, I did not have the traditional kirsch liqueur, but had some of this syrup that is literally magic in everything – milkshakes, all cocktails. It is NOTHING like the maraschino cherry syrup you often find in bars or ice cream shops. Luxardo cherry syrup actually tastes like cherries! And it is super thick and rich…honestly I don’t really know if I could ever do it justice in writing. Just get some and try it. It is inexpensive and you will find yourself becoming a mixologist having this on hand.
  • Freshly whipped cream. This is a non negotiable part of my recipe and the traditional black forest cake recipe. It lightens the whole cake up.

Now if you have kirsch liqueur and don’t have the Luxardo syrup, just sub the kirsch right in for the syrup – no problem.

A few last tips…

Per usual I like to give a couple pro tips that I think make this the best.

  1. Use coffee in the cake recipe. The cake will not taste like coffee, I promise you. Coffee is a chocolate enhancer and it will bring out an amazing chocolate taste in your cake.
  2. Chop the cherry compote. If you don’t have a food processor or an immersion blender, I still recommend NOT skipping this step. Simply strain the cherries from the liquid and roughly chop them by hand. If using a food processor or immersion blender make sure only PULSE when chopping. You don’t want a full-on smooth puree but you want to make sure you have some fresh cherry pulp in every bite.
  3. Try stabilizing your whipped cream if you can. While not totally necessary I am putting this a pro tip because it makes a difference, and allows the cake to last longer in the fridge. Stabilized whipped cream is firm whipped cream that will hold a shape with the addition of gelatin. The gelatin turns regular old  whipped cream into stabilized whipped cream.

While a traditional black forest cake will be topped with chocolate shavings, I am a lazy baker sometimes…and I just topped mine with a couple of fresh cherries…tho a little extra whipped cream wouldn’t hurt this if I do say so myself.


Black forest cake

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake


For the cake

  • 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon black cocoa powder you can use regular if you don't have this
  • 1/2 cups strong hot coffee
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cherry filling

  • For the cherry compote
  • 3 cups of fresh or frozen cherries pitted
  • 3 tablespoons of luxardo or other brand cherry syrup, alternatively you could use a cherry liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

For the whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cold water
  • 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350; spray two 8-inch cake rounds with baking spray and line the bottom with a parchment circle that fits the pan.

To make the cake

  1. Place chocolate and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Pour hot coffee over chocolate and cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Cool this completely.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together. In a third bowl, whisk eggs, vinegar, oil, sour cream and vanilla together.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the cooled chocolate/coffee mixture and whisk well. Add the dry to the wet and whisk to incorporate. Divide into cake pans and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes - maybe a touch longer. Cool completely.

To make the cherry compote

  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat on the stovetop, stirring often. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook and stir about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens or reduces.
  2. Cool slightly and then pour compote into a food processor and pulse about 5-6 times to chop up the cherries. Alternatively, after cooling slightly place an immersion blender into the sauce pan and pulse a few times to chop cherries. And yet another way, strain cherries from liquid and roughly chop by hand and add back to the cherry liquid and combine together. However you do it, what you are wanting is a chopped cherry compote.
  3. To make the whipped cream
  4. Sprinkle your gelatin over the water and let sit for 5 minutes until it blooms. Melt gelatin for 8 seconds in the microwave. You can tell gelatin is melted when you cannot see any granules of gelatin anymore. So if after 8 seconds you can still see granules, continue to microwave for 3 seconds at a time until it is all melted. When it is all dissolved, add one extra teaspoon of heavy cream to the gelatin and stir it in.
  5. In a cold mixing bowl, whip your heavy for 15 seconds on medium speed until it starts to foam up. Add in your tiny amount of powdered sugar and keep mixing on medium speed until the whipped cream is just starting to have some peaks. Now with your mixer on low, drizzle in your gelatin. Turn the mixer back up to medium speed until your peaks are firm and holding their shape. Now this is important - don't overmix! I promise you that if you do because you think you are making it stiffer, you will end up with butter. Whipped cream can turn into whipped butter in a heartbeat and once it does, you can never go back.

To assemble the cake

  1. Place one cake layer on a large plate or cake stand, then top with the cherry compote, spreading to almost the edges. Pipe a small ring of whipped cream around the outside of that layer to hold in the cherries. Then top with the second cake layer. Spoon the remaining whipped cream on the top and, using an offset spatula, spread the whipped all across the top and down the sides. Evenly spreading around the sides (this will be thin it is supposed to look like one of those chic 'naked cakes' that are popping up everywhere). Top the whole thing off with a few fresh cherries or chocolate shavings.

Let me know whatcha think!