Absolutely a delicious cake and always a show stopper. There can’t be an easier way to make it. Of course, there are a few steps involved as there are layers of flavor in a Black Forest cake. All the steps are quite easy to follow and do and are very manageable. If I’m planning ahead when I make this cake I usually pit and stew the cherries the day before. Pitting the cherries is probably the longest, hardest and messiest (most annoying) thing about this recipe especially if you don’t have a proper pitter. I did them by hand without a pitter and made very good use of my time by watching Netflix while pitting.
Once I steweed them I separated them from their liquid and packed them separately and stored them in the fridge until the next day when I was ready to make the cake. You can also make the ganache in advance and keep it refrigerated but you will still have to heat it back up to make it spreadable so I usually make it while the cake is baking as it’s a very simple step and making it ahead doesn’t really save too much time. The cakes can be made ahead of time too. I like to let them cool, brush them with the syrup and wrap them tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight or you can also freeze them if you are making them ahead more than one night. Just thaw them overnight in the fridge before putting the cake together.
The reason why I bake certain things lies heavily hinged on the two men in my life. My dad and my hubby. This time it was dad though. Black Forest cake always reminds me of him. He loves it and growing up he loved Tim Hortons Black Forest cake – like loved it. Anytime we were invited over to family or friends and he was craving it he insisted my mom not make dessert but we pickup black forest cake from Timmies. I hated it!! I hated the fake plastic tasting whip cream, the canned cherry filling that to my young palate tasted bitter from whatever they soaked them and the very fluffy chocolate cake in. I had zero appreciation for it and couldn’t understand his obsession with it.
I have come to appreciate the flavours in It much more over the years but I’m still not a fan of the store bought kind. I wanted to make him a homemade one so he could really see the difference in flavours. He loved this version of course cause homemade cakes almost always taste better and I was so happy he did. Now he will call on me to make this every time he has a craving for some and I’m fine with that!
When it comes to decorating this cake – it’s super easy – the ganache provides a gorgeous drippy and delectable topping for it and fresh cherries are all it needs. You most definitely can take it up a notch with some shaved chocolate and a dusting of powdered sugar, but we loved it just like this. You can also totally cover it with extra frosting or whip and then put on the cherries but I kept it minimal and rustic as I’m not so great in the cake decorating department. It’s a good thing rustic is in!
My husband who doesn’t like cooked fruit in dessert (he’s one of those) absolutely loved this cake and so did our friends who we shared it with. It’s an updated and simplified classic (cause I like things simplified and dumbed down in the kitchen as much as possible) that I loved making and will def make again. It’s quite a statement cake and has some presence, making it a great one for special occasions. I hope you give it a try. I know you will love it!
For the Dark Chocolate Cake layers (makes three 9 inch round cakes)
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
⅔ cup + 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1⅓ cup greek yoghurt, at room temperature
½ cup or one stick of butter, melted and cooled
⅔ cup + 3 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp of instant coffee powder or ½ tsp of espresso powder mixed in with the boiling water (optional but recommended to accentuate the cocoa flavour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Cherries
500 g (16 oz) whole cherries approx 80, pitted
½ cup kirsch or any other cherry cherry brandy (non alcoholic wine is a good substitute)
½ cup sugar (alternatively you can sweeten with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup or date syrup which I used in this recipe)
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
½ cup thickened (heavy) cream
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
500 g of cream cheese at room temperature
6-8 tablespoons icing sugar
⅔ cup + 3 tablespoons of heavy cream at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Dark Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 350 ° F and grease and line the bottom of three 9 inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In a large bowl using a hand mixer or standing mixer, mix the butter and sugar together for a minute until fully combined.
Then add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
Then add the yoghurt and vanilla extract until full combined.
Slowly start to add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Then mix in the hot water and coffee mixture and mix just until the batter is uniform and smooth.
Divide evenly between the three prepared cake pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes then let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely before levelling any domed tops and assembling.
After leveling and doming the cakes brush them lightly with the remaining cherry syrup below. (Optional but will keep the layers quit moist while adding a little extra flavour)
For the Cherries
While cakes are baking prep the cherries. Place the pitted cherries in a saucepan with the kirsch and sugar.
Bring to a light boil and then reduce temperature and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the cherries have softened but are not reduced to mush and still hold their shape
Strain the mixture, placing the cherries in one bowl and reserved syrup in another.
Use the left over syrup to brush over the cakes as the are cooling (optional but recommended to keep the cakes moist)
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
Roughly chop the chocolate and place in a bowl.
Bring the cream to a light simmer in a saucepan. Once at a simmer, pour the mixture over the chocolate. Leave for 2 minutes, and then stir until smooth and thick. Leave it to cool completely at room temperature.
For the Cream Cream Frosting
Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until creamy. Add the cream and vanilla extract and whip until thickened and spreadable.
Place the first cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand. Spread a thick layer of the cream cheese frosting on top - approximately half of it.
Then place half of the kirsch macerated cherries over the frosting and gently press in to indent.
Place the second cake layer over the first and repeat the layering process as before.
Top with the third and last cake layer. Spread a thick layer of ganache over the top.
Garnish with fresh cherries.
Refrigerate cake for 15 minutes before serving for an easier cut.