It seemed appropriate to share a sweet recipe with you for Valentine’s Day, so I chose to post my recipe for Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte aka Black Forest Cake.
To Americans, I feel that Black Forest Cake is the quintessential German dessert. It has a celebratory feel to it, adorned with regal cherries and a commanding force of dark chocolate, softened by thick layers of whipped cream containing juicy cherries. So it came as no surprise to me when I was asked to make a Black Forest Cake for my then-husband’s family. Believe it or not, but I had made it to my early thirties without ever truly learning to cook or bake. But I figured I could always follow a recipe. But boy, was I wrong about that. I could not present the sorry mess of a chocolate-cherry-cream dripping off the baking sheet — yup, I had put all the ingredients together and mixed them in order, then put the whole thing in the oven, including the whipped cream. The only thing I can say in my defense is that science was never a strong subject for me.
I have, of course, made many more Black Forest Cakes, and considered myself completely redeemed when a friend in my German potluck group told me mine was better than her mother’s. She had been skeptical, as her mother had made her a Black Forest Cake for every birthday, and, or because, it was her favorite treat.
May you all equally impress your friends and family (and don’t put the whipped cream on until the cake is out of the oven).
Yield: 1 Cake / 16 slices
Prep time: 60 minutes (plus 12 hours rest time)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total time: 105 minutes (plus 12 hours rest time)
1/2 cup dark baking chocolate
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup sugar (if you like it sweeter, you can increase to 3/4 cup or even 1 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
6 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 1/2 cups sour cherries, drained (plus 16 cherries for decoration) [save juice]
2 cups sour cherry juice
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup Kirschwasser, divided (found in most American liquor stores)
3 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (you can use the same amount of vanilla extract if you cannot get vanilla sugar)
3/4 cup dark baking chocolate, grated
How is this sustainable ?
Sometimes you just have to indulge in a delicacy that is not as sustainable as my usual style.
Nonetheless, you can make this more sustainable by using local and/or organic eggs (best if you buy them directly from a local farmer or friend), as well as organic chocolate, butter, cream etc. Lastly, I use raw sugar, which is more sustainable than refined sugar.
Another item of note is that I only use non-GMO certified cornstarch.
- Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
- Melt 1/2 cup dark baking chocolate with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a double boiler.
- Separate eggs.
- Beat egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Cream remaining 4 tablespoons butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the flat beater inserted.
- Mix in the melted chocolate and butter.
- Remove bowl from mixer, then sift in flour with cornstarch and baking powder. Fold in gently.
- Transfer mixture to a parchment lined 9 inch spring form.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in pre-heated oven.
- Remove from oven and let sponge cake cool on a cooling rack.
- Once cool, carefully slice the sponge cake into three even layers. (There are several ways to do this, I have been most successful with using the kitchen twine method, or sometimes by frosting knife).
- Drain sour cherries (save the juice).
- Mix cornstarch and sugar, then smooth it with a little cherry juice.
- In a medium saucepan, bring rest of the juice to a boil.
- Add the cornstarch mixture and let it come to a boil again.
- Take the saucepan off the burner, add the cherries and let it cool down a little.
- Add 1/4 cup of the Kirschwasser.
- Soak 2 of the 3 sponge cake layers with the remaining 1/4 cup Kirschwasser.
- Spread the cherry mixture evenly on each of the soaked layers.
- Store in a cool place for 12 hours (or overnight) until they have jelled.
- Whip the heavy cream, slowly adding vanilla sugar (or vanilla).
- Place one layer of sponge cake with filling on a cake platter.
- Spread 1/4 of the whipped cream on top.
- Place second layer of sponge cake with filling on top.
- Add second 1/4 of the whipped cream.
- Top with final layer of sponge cake, and aromatize with a little more Kirschwasser.
- Using a frosting knife or spatula, cover entire outside of cake with whipped cream.
- Using a pastry bag, decorate with remaining whipped cream.
- Distributed grated chocolate on top.
- Decorate with reserved cherries.