Featuring moist chocolate cake layers, a fresh cherry filling, and a light whipped cream frosting, my mile-high Black Forest cake is a total showstopper! Make it even more stunning by garnishing with mini chocolate chips, chocolate shavings, and fresh cherries on top. Beautiful, delicious, and surprisingly easy, this cake is sure to be the star of your dessert table!
Best Black Forest Cake Recipe
A few months ago I ordered a slice of Black Forest cake from the bakery and it was… AWFUL!
It was dry, rubbery, and had zero cherry flavor. I literally took one bite, dumped it in the bin, and booked it out of there. You’ll never catch me forcing down something that’s meant to be a special treat! It’s just not worth it.
But the lackluster experience reminded me of why I started baking in the first place! And inspired me to create my very own version of the classic chocolate cake. So there was definitely a silver lining!!!
I mean, how beautiful is this black forest cake?! And it tastes EVEN better than it looks!
Making the Cake Batter:
- I highly suggest using a digital scale to weight your ingredients! Especially the dry ingredients like flour and cocoa powder. Adding too much of either of these ingredients will cause your cake to be dry!
- If you don’t weigh them, be sure to fluff them up in their bag or container before measuring. Then use a spoon to lightly scoop them into the measuring cup, and level off with the flat edge of a knife.
- Be sure your baking powder and baking soda are both fresh, otherwise your cakes could come out flat or with an “off” taste.
- Spray your cake pans generously with nonstick spray, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. This will ensure your cakes pop out the pan with ease!
Making the Cherry Filling:
- I used regular red cherries because they’re widely available. But sour cherries will work if you’re able to find them! I don’t suggest using maraschino cherries.
- Fresh OR frozen cherries will work for the filling. Using frozen will also save you time since they’re almost always already pitted. I strongly suggest using fresh cherries for the decorating! If you can’t find them, simply leave them off.
- Kirsch is a cherry liqueur that’s made of cherry juice, cane sugar, and brandy. The brand I use is Schladerer schwarzwalder.
Make the Whipped Cream Topping:
- Unlike most layer cakes that use a buttercream or cream cheese frosting, this cake is topped with a light and airy whipped cream. It’s not too sweet and really lets the chocolate and cherry flavors shine!
- To make the whipped cream, you’ll need a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a large bowl and a handheld electric mixer. You’ll beat the cream until stiff peaks form, adding a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time.
- Due to the nature of whipped cream, this cake is best served within an hour of making it. And should be stored in the fridge until you plan on serving. The whipped cream will loose volume as it sits, so if you’re looking for a more stable frosting, I suggest a cream cheese or buttercream. Both will be much sweeter, but will keep for hours on end!
More Cake Recipes:
- Ultimate Funfetti Birthday Cake
- White Chocolate Almond Raspberry Cake
- Old-Fashioned Devil’s Food Cake
- Best White Cake Recipe
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake
- Classic Yellow Cake with Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Mile-High Black Forest Cake
For the Chocolate Cake:
- 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (213 grams) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 and 3/4 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (85 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 cup (227 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (99 grams) canola oil
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (227 grams) freshly brewed coffee
- 3 cups (480 grams) fresh or frozen cherries
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) Kirsch liqueur
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
- 4 cups (680g) heavy cream
- 3/4 cup (82g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (85 grams) mini chocolate chips, for decoration, optional
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, grated, for decoration, optional
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) fresh cherries, for decoration, optional
For the Chocolate Glaze:
- 1 cup (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 2/3 cup (152 grams) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)
For the Chocolate Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°(F). Generously spray two 9-inch round baking pans with non-stick baking spray and set them aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, combine both sugars, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt on low until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, sour cream, milk, oil and vanilla, beating until well combined. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Carefully add in hot coffee (or water) and continue beating until completely combined; about 1 minute. The batter will quite thin.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared pans.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
- Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the pan (placed on top of a cooling rack) before removing from pans and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 6 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for another 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool completely before using.
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
- In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium-low, slowly adding in the confectioners' sugar. Add in the vanilla. Then increase to medium-high speed and whip until stiff peaks form.
For the Chocolate Glaze:
- Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a small heatproof bowl. Set aside.
- Warm the cream over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Add in the espresso powder and whisk smooth.
- Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute, then whisk smooth. Whisk in the kirsch, if using. Cool for 5 minutes.
- Using a long, serrated knife, slice each cake in half horizontally, so that you have 4 even layers.
- Place one cake layer on a large plate or cake stand. Spread 1/2 cup of the whipped cream on top of the cake, then top with 1/3 cup of the cherry filling. Top with another cake layer, and repeat the layering process, ending with the last cake layer on top.
- Spread all remaining whipped cream frosting over the top and sides of the cake. I
- Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Then sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
- Allow the cake to set in the fridge for 2o minutes before slicing. Then serve, or store, in the refrigerator, for up to 1 hour.
- Right before serving, line the edge of the cake with fresh cherries, and top with chocolate shavings.
- Hot water may be used in place of the coffee. Be sure it's freshly boiled.
- Liquified coconut oil or vegetable oil may be used in place of canola oil. If using liquified coconut oil, be sure it's not too hot before adding it to the batter.
- Cherry juice may be used in place of the kirsch.
- Do not use dutch-process cocoa for this recipe.
- If you have extra whipped cream, or want to make extra for decoration, you can scrape it into a piping bag and pipe whipped cream stars around the cake.
- This is a delicate cake by nature. It will hold its shape, but it's not the most structured cake. If you prefer more structure, use a cream cheese frosting or buttercream.
- This cake is best served within an hour of making, but will keep, stored in the fridge, for about 6 hours before it starts loosing volume due to the nature of whipped cream.
Cups "n" Pies says
I tried your recipes it made the cake really delicious . Thank you foe sharing these amazing recipes. keep sharing your knowledge with us.
Georgene Grenfell says
How can I print this recipe
Use the print button at the top of the recipe card . . .
By far one of the best cakes I’ve tried. Thank you Ashley!
Could you bake the cakes the night before and make the whipped topping and assembly the day of?
That is what I did! And it turned out really well!
nadine antonelli says
Amazing cake! I have already made it twice. Lots of rave reviews from family and friends. Warning: it really is “mile high”!! After assembly it did not fit in my cake container. Make sure you have one with a high fitting lid or assemble it where you intend to serve it.
I made this cake for my nephew’s birthday. I only made two changes. I used black cocoa and I stabilized my whipped cream. My nephew said it was the best Black Forest cake he has ever had. I am not a fan of saucing up cherries or marachinoing them because cherries are perfect the way they are ( and I don’t like fruit mixed with chocolate either) but I made this for him and he was thrilled. I tasted the cake on its own and it was delicious. Very Good Recipe!
Samantha Renee says
Soo delicious, everyone loved it! Its nice and light for a cake and perfect for thode who dont like buttercream or too sweet. I was nervous that it wouldnt hold up well but it was fine and more stable than i thought. The chocolate bark was really easy too. I would definitely make this again, just put more whipped cream im between layers because i was left with a lot.
This is AMAZING! So easy to follow and suprisingly easy! My whole family loved this so much that they want me to make it again next week! Thanks for this recipe xxA
I only used the cake recipe and this is the BEST chocolate cake ever made! It’s so moist and flavorful.
What can you substitute for the Kirsch liqueur to be non-alcoholic?
Tami J Berger says
You can just use cherry juice!! I don’t do alcohol either so was doing a bit of research…
Phenomenal Recipe! Coworkers, family and friends said it was one of the best cakes they’ve had. I swapped the whipped cream for a cream cheese icing to make it a little bit more sturdy but overall 10/10 definitely recommend, and also it was fairly easy to make the cake.
The BEST Black Forest Cake ever! I made this for my daughters 13th birthday and she said it is the best birthday cake I have ever made for her.
As always……Thank You so so much for sharing!
The measurements for the flour and brown sugar in gms is off.
Hi Ashley, thank you for your work! I’ve read the comments for this cake and it sounds like a real hit.
I’m not much of a baker though, and just wanted a little clarification on a couple things:
1. I’ve read your baking instructions for the batter (preheated to 350 degrees for 30-35 min). Once those cake pans are filled with the batter, are they going into the oven at the same time or one after the other? I imagine ithey both go in at once but I’d rather not assume.
2. I don’t have the money to use kirsch this time around, but I see you’ve offered an alternative with cherry juice. Sounds good, but I’ve also read elsewhere that cherry syrup can work too. Would you still prefer the juice over the syrup between these two choices?
If I made stabilized whipped cream for this cake, would you say it might last a couple of days? Lol asking as if I wouldn’t completely devour this in more than a day Haha!
Victoria Remo says
I tried making these and the are so good! The cakes are really moist. Can I make a coffee cake using this recipe? Thanks
Why can’t you use dutch process cocoa for this recipe?
I would like to know about that as well. I can only get Dutch coco.
I make this, but with stabilized whip cream, it freezes well with out the fresh cherries on top, and last a couple days in the fridge.
Thank you Ashly for this absolutely delicious recipe. I am a huge fan of black forest cake and this is by far the best ever. so moist and yummy. Huge raves from everyone.
I want to do it as a mini cakes using the medium size muffin cake tins. how can I adjust the baking time?
Ashley Manila says
You’re so welcome! I’m so happy this earned you rave reviews! I’ve never tried this as mini cakes. Do you mean cupcakes or baking in tiny cake tins?
I made this for a birthday a couple weeks ago and it was one of the best cakes I have ever eaten, let alone made myself. Highly recommend this recipe.
Just finished making the cake and I know without tasting it’s going to be delicious over the top.
My daughter asked for this cake for her birthday… I was a little overwhelmed when I first read the recipe but the directions are excellent and the cake turned out perfect. I did ‘stabilize’ the whipped cream so it would hold up a bit longer – followed the recipe directions for the whipped cream but added unflavored gelatin to it. That may have changed the texture of the whipped cream just a bit, but it tastes great. It’s an amazing cake!
Payal - Cake Baker says
Can I make a cake 2 days before cake cutting ceremony?
Ashley Manila says
Hi! You could bake the cake layers and freeze them, then thaw the day before assembly. Due to the delicate nature of this cake – especially the whipped cream – it’s best made the day of.
Delicious and guest approved!
When do you put the 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional) into the cake?
For the kirsch, do you use the clear kirschwasser? Or the sweetened version which is dark red?
What an amazing chocolate cake! The only issue I had was the glaze on the cream. Everything skid off, I wondered if it was because it wasn’t real fresh cream but a substitute caked Elmlea which we get in Europe. Replaced the sour cream with Greek yoghurt. Cake was moist and light.
uno online says
A delicious cake for you every afternoon. It’s great, isn’t it?