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Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

Note that Finnish eggs are among the safest in the world to be eaten uncooked. To find out why, read here.

Black Forest cherry cake Here is one version of the famous German chocolate, cream and cherry layer cake flavoured with Kirschwasser.

The preparation of the cake will take almost three days, which is worth the effort in order to make the cake truly moist and succulent. In spite of the long time, the cake is relatively easy to make, so do not be frightened of the long list of ingredients and tasks given below.

This recipe will produce a rather small cake  —  to make a larger cake, double or triple the ingredients listed below. For a simpler cake, omit the chocolate mousse and butter cream fillings and use sweetened whipped cream instead.

cake bottom:
125 g sugar
3 eggs
50 g coarse wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
25 g cocoa powder
(1 tsp vanilla sugar)
75 g melted butter
cherry filling:
1 jar/can (about 175/350 g) of pitted Morello cherries (griottes/sour cherries) preserved in syrup
about 200 ml syrup from the cherry jar
40 g sugar
pinch of cinnamon
dash of Kirschwasser
about 3 tsp cornstarch
sugar syrup:
50 ml sugar
50 ml water
about ¾ tbsp Kirschwasser
butter cream filling:
50 g sugar
30 g lightly whisked egg (about ½ large egg)
50 g butter
2 tsp Kirschwasser
chocolate mousse filling:
50 g bittersweet chocolate with high cocoa content (min. 50 %)
½ egg  —  lightly whisked
75 ml cream
1 - 2 tsp Kirschwasser
for garnish:
about 250 - 350 ml cream
vanilla sugar
bittersweet chocolate curls or shavings
8 red maraschino cherries

On the first day, bake the cake bottom and prepare the cherry filling:

Cake bottom:
Butter two springform pans (Ø about 16 - 18 cm) and line their bottoms with a buttered round of parchment paper. Mix together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and vanilla sugar. Place the sugar and the eggs in a mixing bowl and beat them thoroughly, until they form a fluffy, pale yellow mixture.

Add the dry ingredients through a sieve and the melted butter, folding them in gently until all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake at 180 °C for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. (If you are making a larger cake, the baking time will be longer.)

Let the cakes cool for a couple of minutes before removing them from the pans. Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool down. Transfer the cakes on plates, cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Cherry filling:
Strain the cherries, reserving about 200 millilitres of the syrup. Chop the cherries, removing any stones or stone pieces they may contain. Take about 50 millilitres of the syrup and mix in the cornstarch.

Pour the rest of the syrup in a small saucepan. Add the sugar, cinnamon (just a pinch!) and Kirschwasser. Note: if the suryp is very sweet, reduce the amount of sugar. Heat and stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and bring it to the boil. In a thin stream, pour in the cornstarch and syrup mixture, whisking vigorously.


In picture above: bottle of Kirschwasser  —  German eau de vie distilled from cherries.

Lower the heat and let the mixture boil for about one minute, stirring continually, until slightly thickened. Stir in the cherries and pour the mixture in a bowl to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

On the second day, prepare the butter cream and chocolate mousse filling and assemble the cake:

Sugar syrup:
Bring the sugar, water and Kirschwasser to the boil in a small saucepan. Let the mixture boil for a couple of minutes, take off the heat and let cool down.

Butter cream filling:
Take the butter out to room temperature. Beat the egg and sugar in a bowl placed over a hot water bath, until the mixture is fluffy and has reached the temperature of about 40 - 50 °C. Add the Kirschwasser, place the bowl in a cold water bath and beat until the mixture is cool (about 18 - 20 °C). Beat the soft butter until light and fluffy. Start adding the egg mixture in the butter, little at a time, beating vigorously after each addition. Beat until smooth, cover and set aside.

Chocolate mousse filling:
Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Place the bowl over a barely simmering water bath but do not let its bottom touch the water. Let the chocolate melt. Remove the bowl from the water bath, stir the chocolate smooth and let it cool for about 10 minutes in room temperature. Meanwhile, mix the cream with Kirschwasser and whip until stiff.

Check the temperature of the cooled chocolate with your finger  —  it should feel just faintly warm. Mix in the egg gently but firmly with a balloon whisk. Stir until smooth. The egg will cause the mixture to thicken. Using the balloon whisk, mix in about 1/3 of the whipped cream and stir firmly and thoroughly until smooth. Then fold in the rest of the cream, stirring gently with the whisk. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic and place in refrigerator to set for about 30 minutes.

Assembling the cake:
Cut the cake bottoms in half to make four thin layers. Place the first layer on the bottom of a springform pan. Brush the layer liberally with the Kirschwasser sugar syrup. Spread the soft butter cream evenly on top. Cover and place in refrigerator until the butter cream has somewhat firmed up (about 30 to 60 minutes).

Place a second cake layer on top of the butter cream and brush with sugar syrup. Stir the cherry filling smooth and spread on the cake layer. Place a third cake layer on top and brush with sugar syrup. Spread the layer evenly with the chocolate mousse filling. Cover and place in refrigerator until the mousse has set (about 30 to 60 minutes). Cover the chocolate mousse with the last cake layer, brush with sugar syrup, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight to make the cake soft and moist.

On the third day, decorate and serve the cake:

Remove the cake from the springform pan and place on a serving dish. Whip the cream with the sugars until rather stiff. Using a spatula or a palette knife, cover the top and the sides of the cake with a smooth layer of whipped cream. Reserve some cream for piping of cream rosettes. Decorate the sides of the cake using a cake comb, if you like, or sprinkle with shaved chocolate (see the top picture).

Sprinkle the top centre of the cake generously with chocolate curls or shavings. Use the rest of the cream to pipe eight rosettes evenly around the top edge of the cake. Place one Maraschino cherry on top of each rosette.

Black Forest cherry cake

If you are going to store the cake for a few hours before serving, cover it with a cake dome or plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. To prevent the plastic from touching and messing up the decoration on the cake, stick some toothpicks evenly all over the top of it and let the plastic wrap rest on the toothpicks instead of the cream topping.

Recipe source: family recipe.


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