The Black Forest cake is one that rarely comes up when we’re thinking about cakes, but it seemed like a perfect choice for our 14 year old’s birthday a few weeks ago. It has some of her favorite things—chocolate, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries—all in one dessert. I’ve always liked Black Forest Cake, but it reminds me of my teen years for some reason. Maybe because I remember seeing it on menus more often in cafes, back when all you’d see on a dessert menu was cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, and some sort of chocolate cake—either German chocolate or Black Forest. It does seem vaguely like a bit of a throwback dessert, doesn’t it? But I was reminded again of how much I really enjoy the combination of cherries and chocolate.
Mark and his sister remembered that their mother loves Black Forest cake too, so we froze 2 huge slices and sent them packing in his sister’s suitcase when she flew back to Seattle. We made the cake without the traditional liqueur (and next time we might add that in because we do enjoy boozy desserts), but we didn’t really miss it at all. The cake tasted even better on the second and third day when all the flavors had a chance to meld together.
Black Forest Cake Filling:
1 pound frozen sour cherries, thawed (reserve the liquid)
1/4 cup Kirsch Liqueur
2 tablespoons raspberry puree
2 ounces cornstarch
1 tablespoon pectin powder
5 ounces sugar
Soak the cherries in the Kirsch liqueur overnight. Drain well, but save the liqueur and set the cherries aside. Add enough juice from the thawed sour cherries to the reserved liqueur to make 1 1/4 cups. Combine all the ingredients but the thawed cherries in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring and whisking frequently. Remove from the heat when it boils and thickens. Mix in the cherries. Refrigerate and cool thoroughly before filling the cakes. (If you do not want to use the Kirsch liqueur, simply omit it, but be sure to use 1 1/4 of reserved sour cherry juice to the mixture.)
Devil’s Food Cake: (makes one 9-inch cake)
5 ounces butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup hot coffee
3-4 cups freshly whipped cream, for assembling
Dark chocolate shavings, for assembling
Maraschino cherries, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan, and lay it on the bottom. Spray the pan with non-stick baking spray.
Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy——about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing for one minute. Reduce the speed to low and add all dry ingredients followed by the buttermilk and coffee. Increase the speed once again and beat for one more minute. Spread into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 15 minutes or until just firm in the middle. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan. Cool the cake completely before proceeding with the assembly.
After the cake is fully cooled, slice it crosswise evenly into three layers. Spread a layer of cherry filling followed by a layer of whipped cream. Top it with another cake layer, then repeat. Top with the final layer of cake. Frost the cake with a thick layer of the remaining whipped cream. Gently press chocolate shavings on the sides and decorate the top with piped whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.