Black Forest Cake

This cake is AMAZING. Black Forest Cake is something we've always wanted to try making, and it seemed like a great finale to the end of Katrina's birthday month of cakes. Chocolate, cherries, whipped cream, brandy...what's not to love?! This cake traditionally calls for kirsch liqueur, but we decided to substitute brandy and cherry juice since we didn't want to buy this specialty item just for this one cake. And you know what? They worked perfectly! And we already keep brandy on hand for various recipes, so no special alcohol purchase required! Which is really a bonus once you are old enough not to get carded anymore and every alcohol purchase is mildly depressing.

So,'s a long ingredient list for this cake. And there are a lot of steps. BUT, this is the PERFECT special occasion cake. People rarely make them, so it has a real wow factor. Plus, it's fantastically delicious.

Black Forest Cake

servings: 16
time: 2 hours


Chocolate sponge cakes: (makes three 9" cakes)
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 1/8 cups cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/8 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Cherry brandy (Kirsch substitute):
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup cherry juice, reserved from frozen cherries
Cherry filling:
  • 2 lbs. frozen cherries, thawed (do not drain juice - it will all be used!)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cherry brandy (NOT syrup)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp butter
Cherry brandy syrup:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cherry brandy
  • 1/2 cup water
Whipped Cream:
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 7 oz dark chocolate, shaved
  • 21 maraschino cherries, patted dry
Chocolate sponge cake instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease three 9" cake pans and line them with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Mix vanilla into melted butter and set aside.
  4. Whisk eggs and sugar in bowl of stand mixer until well combined.
  5. Place over simmering water bath and heat, whisking continuously. Heat until sugar has dissolved - you'll want to rub small amounts of the mixture between your fingers periodically until you feel no more graininess and it is warm; this was about 3 minutes for us.
  6. Return bowl to stand mixer and whisk on high speed for 10 minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to medium and whisk for 5 more minutes.
  8. Carefully pour mixture into very large mixing bowl and gradually fold in flour mixture. Fold in melted butter.
  9. Divide batter equally between three pans and bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Allow cake to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Cherry brandy instructions:
  1. Mix cherry and brandy in small liquid measuring cup and set aside. This will be split between your cherry filling and your syrup for brushing on the cakes.
Cherry filling:
  1. Combine cherries, with their remaining juice, sugar, and cherry brandy in medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix water and lemon juice in small liquid measuring cup and stir in tapioca starch.
  3. Pour tapioca liquid into cherry mixture.
  4. Return to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.
  6. Pour into small mixing bowl and refrigerate until completely chilled.
Cherry brandy syrup:
  1. Combine sugar, cherry brandy, and water in small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Whipped cream:
  1. Combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in bowl of stand mixer and whisk on high speed until firm. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  1. Use cheese shredder of vegetable peeler to make chocolate shavings. Chill until ready to use.
  2. Place one cake layer on cake stand. Brush 1/3 of cherry brandy syrup on top.
  3. Pipe whipped cream around the top edge of your cake.
  4. Carefully spoon about half of your cherry filling inside the whipped cream perimeter.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4.
  6. Top with third cake layer. Brush remaining cherry brandy syrup on.
  7. Spread entire cake with whipped cream.
  8. Carefully press chocolate shavings onto sides of cake then sprinkle the rest on top of the cake - mostly in the middle.
  9. Pipe whipped cream around top of cake and top with maraschino cherries.
Your cake is complete! You can eat it right away, or let it chill for a while and let the cherry brandy really soak into the cake. Because there is so much moisture in your cake layers, this keeps well for several days.

The long-whipped egg mixture for cakes

Cake batter ready to bake!

Homemade cherry brandy to replace hard-to-find kirsch liqueur 

Cherry filling! 

Piping whipped cream for cherry filling barrier 

Check out Katrina's birthday shirt! Have we mentioned that a walrus is our official mascot? #BlubberDiet 

The middle layer 

Ready for the outer layers! 

We puzzled for a while as to how we should stick our chocolate shavings to the outside of the cake. Katrina opted for a "high-five!" method. High-five your cake on all sides. It's satisfying. Go, cake! 

Topped with more whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and cherries! So pretty! 

Boozy, fruity, creamy, chocolaty goodness!



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