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Get ready to make a dessert that will wow any crowd! Black forest cake is made with layers of moist chocolate cake, a sweet cherry sauce (no cherry liquor in this recipe), and stabilized whipped cream.

Follow my easy recipe and you’ll look like a baking pro!

black forest cake on a white cake stand with a large slice taken out, with stacks of white plates and cherries scattered around
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This recipe for Black Forest Cake is decadent and divine! 

Special occasions just got upgraded now that you’ve found this black forest cake recipe!

Not only is this cake stunning visually, but the flavor is to die for. This truly decadent cake looks luxurious but when you follow my easy recipe below, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make. 

In my version of black forest cake, you don’t have to worry about keeping kids away. While traditionally this recipe uses liquor in the cherry filling, there’s none of that here!

We get all the amazing cherry flavor from dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup, keeping this delicious yet family-friendly!

close up of the side of a black forest cake on a white cake stand with layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream, and cherry filling

What is Black Forest Cake?

Black forest cake is a traditional dessert that originated in Germany, made with layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream, and a sweet cherry filling.

What is special about Black Forest Cake?

Black forest cake is known for its unique combination of rich chocolate cake layers, tart cherries, and fluffy whipped cream, a harmonious blend of flavors that’s both indulgent and refreshing. Not only does it taste amazing, but it is visually striking, with the contrast of chocolate cake, white whipped cream, and vibrant red cherries. 

a slice of black forest cake on a white plate with a form with a cake stand and more plates in the background and cherries and chocolate shavings scattered around

German Black Forest Cake Ingredients

This recipe is three parts, with a chocolate cake recipe, sweet cherry sauce, and stabilized whipped cream that are layered together to create absolute cake perfection. Get the full recipe with measurements in the recipe card below.

Chocolate Cake

  • All purpose flour
  • Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • Instant coffee granules such as Folger’s (optional)
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Tap water

Sweet Cherry Sauce

  • Dark Sweet Cherries in heavy syrup
  • Granulated sugar 
  • Cornstarch

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cold heavy whipping cream
  • Vanilla extract
a slice of black forest ake on a plate with a fork surrounded by cherries and little pieces of shaved chocolate

Traditional Black Forest Cake Recipe Variations

This is one of my favorite desserts and is perfect just as it is. However, here are some variations if you want to change it up a bit:

  • Layered parfaits: Deconstruct the cake and create individual black forest parfaits by layering crumbled chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate pieces in glasses. 
  • Flavor the cream: ​ Infuse the whipped cream with different flavors like vanilla, almond, or a hint of citrus for a unique twist.
  • Substitute the cherries for other berries: Instead of cherries, use other berries like raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries. The tartness of these berries can offer a refreshing contrast to the chocolate and cream.
  • Add nuts: Incorporate chopped nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, into the cake layers or as part of the filling for additional texture and flavor.

What is a substitute for alcohol in black forest cake?

While this classic chocolate cake typically includes liquor, my recipe does not. Instead, I relied on the cherry juice from the canned cherries to bring a bold cherry flavor. 

close up of a black forest cake with a large slice cut out, showing the layers of cake, whipped cream and cherry filling

How to Make a Black Forest Cake

This traditional German dessert makes a stunning presentation with an even more impressive taste. Get the full recipe with measurements and ingredients in the recipe card below.

Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch springform pans with butter. Butter the sides and bottom of the pan, and line each pan with a parchment paper circle for easy cake removal. Set aside. 
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the all-purpose flour, unsweetened natural cocoa powder, instant coffee granules, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs, and beat again for 30 seconds.
  4. Add in half of the buttermilk, and beat for about 20 seconds. Add in half of the dry ingredients, and beat. Add the remaining buttermilk plus the hot water, beat just until the liquid is mixed in then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. 
  5. Evenly divide the batter between the 2 pans, with 2 & 1/2 cups of batter in each pan. If using bake even cake strips, secure them around the outside of the pans. 
  6. Bake both pans on the same rack in the center of the oven for 33-37 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and the size of the pan you’re using. 
  7. Allow the cakes to cool for 20-30 minutes in the pans before removing them and allowing them to cool completely on a cooling rack.  

Sweet Cherry Sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat combine the 2 cans of cherries, granulated sugar, and cornstarch until boiling. 
  2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture thickens, 5-10 minutes.
  3. Allow the sauce to cool completely before adding to the cake.  

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  1. Place a metal or glass mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the bowl from the freezer. Add the cream cheese and powdered sugar, and beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. 
  3. Add in the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract, and beat with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes on high speed, or until stiff peaks form / it’s scoopable with a spoon and holds its shape. 

Assemble the Cake

  1. On a serving platter or cake stand place one layer of chocolate cake.
  2. Pipe or spread a generous amount of whipped cream over the cake.
  3. Use a spoon to add a generous amount of cherry sauce on top of the whipped cream.
  1. Add the second layer of cake.
  2. Pipe or spread a generous amount of whipped cream over the cake.
  3. Spoon more cherry sauce on top of the whipped cream. 
  4. Top the cake with chocolate shavings and cherries. 

The easiest way to make chocolate shavings is to take a Hershey’s bar and use a vegetable peeler to make shavings and curls. Heat the chocolate bar in the microwave for 5-ish seconds. Use the vegetable peeler on the side of the bar to make curls. If the chocolate is breaking, heat the bar for a few more seconds until the chocolate curls when using the peeler. 

Traditional Black Forest Cake Recipe Tips

Here are some tips to make this delicious cake recipe the best:

  • Room temperature butter: ​Using room temperature butter will allow the batter to mix together evenly.
  • Use dark sweet cherries: For best results, be sure to use dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup. Do not use fresh cherries, maraschino cherries, or sour cherries.
  • Freeze your bowl and beaters: When making the homemade whipped cream, don’t forget to freeze your bowl and beaters, this step is important to make perfect whipped cream! 
black forest cake on a white cake stand with stacks of white plates and cherries surrounding it

How to Serve This Recipe for Black Forest Cake

Black forest cake makes a beautiful display for a dessert table. When ready to enjoy, use a sharp knife to slice the cake into portions. Serve each slice on individual plates. You can serve extra whipped cream on the side, allowing your guests to add more if they prefer.

Black Forest Chocolate Cake Storage

Leftover cake should be covered and refrigerated, where it will last up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing this cake.

How long does a black forest cake last in the fridge?

It is best to enjoy this cake within 2-3 days, keeping it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Black Forest Cherry Cake FAQs

What is the difference between chocolate cake and black forest cake?

The. main difference between chocolate cake and black forest cake lies in the specific ingredients and assembly of the cakes. While chocolate cake is a general term for cakes featuring chocolate flavor, Black Forest cake is a specific type of chocolate cake that includes layers of chocolate sponge cake, cherries, and whipped cream, sometimes infused with liqueur.

What nationality is Black Forest cake?

Black Forest cake, also known as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German, originated in the Black Forest region of Germany and is often associated with German cuisine and culture.

What is the “fancy name” for black forest cake?

Black Forest cake is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German. It translates to “Black Forest Cherry Torte” in English. It is also known as black forest gateau in French, gateau being a rich, decadent cake. 

What is black forest filling made of?

The filling of black forest cake is traditionally a cherry filling made with cherries, sugar, and a hint of Kirsch (cherry brandy). In this recipe, we don’t use any liquor in our sweet cherry sauce.

Can kids eat black forest cake?

​While most black forest cakes contain liquor, this recipe does not so it’s kid-safe and mom-approved!

​More Cake Recipes

black forest cake on a white cake stand with stacks of white plates and cherries surrounding it
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Black Forest Cherry Cake

By: Beth
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 37 minutes
Servings: 16
Get ready to make a dessert that will wow any crowd! Black forest cake is made with layers of moist chocolate cake, a sweet cherry sauce (no cherry liquor in this recipe), and stabilized whipped cream. Follow my easy recipe and you'll look like a baking pro!

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, 240 grams
  • ¾ cup dutch processed cocoa powder, 63 grams
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules such as Folger’s, optional
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, 1/2 cup
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup hot tap water

Sweet Cherry Sauce

  • 2 cans Dark Sweet Cherries in heavy syrup, 15 oz each
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 pints cold heavy whipping cream, 4 cups
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions 

Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease two 8 or 9 inch springform pans with butter. Butter the sides and bottom of the pan, and line each pan with a parchment paper circle for easy cake removal. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the all purpose flour, unsweetened natural cocoa powder, instant coffee granules, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs, beat again for 30 seconds.
  • Add in half of the buttermilk, beat for about 20 seconds. Add in half of the dry ingredients, beat. Add the remaining buttermilk plus the hot water, beat just until the liquid is mixed in then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.
  • Evenly divide the batter between the 2 pans, with 2 & 1/2 cups of batter in each pan. If using bake even cake strips, secure them around the outside of the pans.
  • Bake both pans on the same rack in the center of the oven for 33-37 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and size of pan you’re using.
  • Allow the cakes to cool for 20-30 minutes in the pans before removing them and allowing them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Sweet Cherry Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan over high heat combine the 2 cans of cherries, granulated sugar and cornstarch until boiling.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture thickens, 5-10 minutes.
  • Allow the sauce to cool completely before adding to the cake.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • Place a metal or glass mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bowl from the freezer. Add the cream cheese and powdered sugar, beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy.
  • Add in the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract, beat with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes on high speed, or until stiff peaks form / it’s scoop-able with a spoon and holds its shape.

Assemble the Cake

  • On a serving platter or cake stand place one layer of chocolate cake.
  • Pipe or spread a generous amount of whipped cream over the cake.
  • Use a spoon to add a generous amount of cherry sauce on top of the whipped cream.
  • Add the second layer of cake.
  • Pipe or spread a generous amount of whipped cream over the cake.
  • Spoon more cherry sauce on top of the whipped cream.
  • Top the cake with chocolate shavings and cherries.
  • The easiest way to make chocolate shavings is to take a Hershey’s bar and use a vegetable peeler to make shavings and curls. Heat the chocolate bar in the microwave for 5-ish seconds. Use the vegetable peeler on the side of the bar to make curls. If the chocolate is breaking, heat the bar for a few more seconds until the chocolate curls when using the peeler.

Notes

Optional: add 2 tablespoons of cherry liquor (such as kirsch or kirschwasser) to the cherries when simmering.

Nutrition

Calories: 489kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 272mg | Potassium: 178mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 1200IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 2mg
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About Beth

I believe that everyone should have a go-to dessert to bring to parties! With hundreds of recipes, I'll help you find yours!

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    When I tell y’all this cake was delicious! I was dreaming of the perfect Black Forest cake for my birthday and this one lived up to my expectations. Very easy recipe to follow. I was not able to find the canned cherries in syrup but did find bags of the pitted sweet cherries in the frozen section of my grocery. Just defrosted before using and they contained enough juice that I did not have to alter the recipe at all. I did add the Kirsh to mine. Cake took about 27 minutes in my oven and came out super moist. Easy to assemble and a showstopper! Will be happily eating for the next few days.