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black forest cake slice in plate

Black Forest Cake Recipe

This is the best black forest cake recipe ever made! Even better than store bought cake! It features sky high layers of unbelievably soft and moist chocolate cake, cherry filling, and airy whipped cream. Perfect for any celebration (or no celebration)!
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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 10 to 12 people (approx.)


For the cherry filling:

  • 3 cups cherries washed, stems removed, pitted and sliced in half
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cherry liquor (optional - it's delicious with or without it!)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water

For the chocolate cupcake:

  • 3 cups cake & pastry flour
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 & ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 & ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract optional
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk

For the simple syrup:

  • cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup boiling water

For the whipped cream topping:

  • 4 cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 & ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

For decorating (optional):

  • 12 ounces semi-sweet Baker's or couverture chocolate, plus more for shaving on top of your cake
  • fresh cherries


  • Make the cherry filling: In a large saucepot, combine cherries, sugar, and cherry liquor. Set over medium high heat and bring to a boil, mixing often to prevent scorching on the bottom. Once the mixture boils, reduce your heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the cherries have released a significant amount of liquid and soften to your liking.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water to create a smooth slurry. Slowly drizzle the cornstarch slurry into the cherry mixture, stirring well as you do to prevent clumps. Continue boiling the mixture until it thickens significantly (about 1 minute).
  • Transfer the cherry filling to a bowl, and set aside to cool completely to room temperature before using. Store in the fridge if you don't plan on assembling your cake right away.
    Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of 2 (9 inch) cake pans, and line the bottom with parchment rounds. Lightly dust the sides with flour, and set aside.
  • Make the chocolate cake: In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat butter and sugar together until the sugar is fully dissolved into the butter, and the mixture is slightly pale and fluffy. I usually do this by hand and it takes about 2 minutes or so.
  • Add your eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in your vanilla extract as well, and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine hot water and espresso powder. Mix together until the espresso powder is fully dissolved, and set aside.
  • Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture. Start with about ⅓ of the dry ingredients, and mix until about incorporated (some streaks of flour are fine). Add your sour cream and buttermilk, and mix until combined. The mixture will look grainy and separated, but that's normal! Mix in another ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Pour in your coffee (it's okay if it's hot), and mix it into the batter. Finish off with the final ⅓ of your dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between your 2 cake pans, and spread into an even layer. Bake the cakes in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool the cakes for about 10 minutes in the pans, then carefully turn them onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom, and set aside to cool completely to room temperature. (Optional) Chill your cakes for 20 to 30 minutes to make it easier to slice and stack.
  • Make the simple syrup: In a medium bowl, combine sugar and boiling water. Whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. It should dissolve just fine with ¼ cup of water, but if you find some sugar isn't melting, heat the mixture in a pot or in your microwave until fully dissolved. Set aside.
  • Make the whipped cream frosting: In a large bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until it reaches stiff peaks (about 5 to 10 minutes on high speed). Cover and chill until ready to frost. It's best to use up the cream within 30 minutes before it starts to lose its stiffness.
  • Assembly: Cut the tops off the cakes to level them. Cut each cake in half horizontally so you have a total of 4 cake layers.
  • Place one layer on a cake stand or plate. Pipe a boarder of whipped cream along the edge of the cake. Fill the center with an even layer of cherry filling. Place another layer of cake on top. Spread about 1 cup of whipped cream onto the top of this layer, then top with another layer of cake. Again, pipe a boarder of whipped cream around the edge of the cake layer, and spread some more cherry filling into the center. Top with your final cake layer.
  • Spread the remaining whipped cream frosting on the top and sides of the cake to fully cover. (If you'd like to decorate the top, reserve about ¾ of a cup of frosting for later)
  • (Optional) Decorations: Pipe swirls on top of your cake with any remaining whipped cream frosting. Place a cherry on top of each swirl. Sprinkle some shaved chocolate onto the center of the cake (I just took a chocolate bar and shaved it with a vegetable peeler).
  • To make the chocolate shards, melt chocolate in your microwave or over a bain-marie. Pour the chocolate onto a large piece of parchment paper, and spread it out into an even layer. Roll the parchment paper into a tube, rolling the chocolate along with it.
  • Chill the chocolate in your fridge or freezer for 20 to 30 minutes or until firm. Unroll the parchment paper and break the chocolate into shards. Arrange the shards along the side of the cake. Slice and serve (finally)!
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