This classic, German, cherry-filled chocolate cake, a masterpiece of cherry brandy-soaked pastry engineering, improves the longer it sits. This recipe first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100 with the story Black Forest Cake.
Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)
This classic, German, cherry-filled chocolate cake, a masterpiece of cherry brandy-soaked pastry engineering, improves the longer it sits.
For the Chocolate Cake and Cherry Syrup
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pan
1 cup flour, plus more for pan
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
3⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
14 oz. (2 cups) jarred or canned sour cherries, drained, reserving 1⁄2 cup cherry juice from jar, plus 12 cherries, to garnish
1⁄2 cup kirsch (cherry brandy)
For the Whipped Cream Frosting
2 tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups plus 6 tbsp. milk
1⁄2 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp. sugar
4 cups heavy cream, chilled
6 tbsp. kirsch (cherry brandy)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated
Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 3″-deep 9″ cake pan; set aside. Combine 1 cup sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk; beat on medium-high speed until tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl; sift onto egg mixture. Add butter; working quickly, gently fold until just combined. Pour into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes; let cool. Using a serrated knife, trim top of cake to create a level top; cut cake horizontally into 3 even layers (see How to Cut Cake Layers) and set cakes aside.
Make the kirsch syrup: Stir together 14 oz. cherries and kirsch in a bowl; let sit for 30 minutes. Bring remaining sugar and reserved cherry juice to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves; remove from heat and set aside. Drain kirsch from cherries, and add it to cherry syrup in saucepan. Set soaked cherries and syrup aside.
Make the frosting: Sprinkle gelatin over 6 tbsp. milk in a bowl; let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch and sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan; add remaining milk, and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to the consistency of very thick pudding; transfer to a food processor along with gelatin mixture; process until smooth. Transfer gelatin mixture to a large bowl. Place cream, 4 tbsp. kirsch, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk; beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Add 1⁄3 of the whipped cream to the gelatin mixture; stir until smooth. Add remaining whipped cream, and gently fold with a rubber spatula until evenly combined.
To assemble the cake: Place 1 layer of cake on a cake stand; brush heavily with cherry syrup. Cover with soaked cherries; spread 1 cup frosting over cherries. Place another cake layer on top; brush heavily with syrup. Spread 2 cups frosting over cake; top with remaining cake layer and brush heavily with syrup. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over top of cake; using a long knife, score top into 12 wedges. Transfer remaining frosting to a piping bag fitted with a 3⁄8″ star tip; starting at outside edge of top of cake, pipe zig-zag rows of frosting on wedges, staying between scored lines. Pipe 3 rows of frosting around side of cake; smooth rows until frosting evenly covers side. Drag a 6" x 4" decorating comb (available at Kerekes) over side of cake to produce a ridged pattern. Pipe 12 small mounds of frosting on top of each wedge; place a cherry on top of each mound. Pour chocolate shavings over center of cake. Chill until frosting is firm, about 2 hours. To serve, pour remaining 2 tbsp. kirsch over chocolate.