Known in the English as Black Forest Cake this national cake of Germany features chocolate, cherries and cream. Image taken by Robert Watson featured in my book- Pastry & Dessert Techniques

Made with only 10 ingredients this popular cake has two tricky steps that take some practice to get just right. The first is the Dunkel Wiener Masse which is better known as Cocoa Genoise or Chocolate sponge cake. Considered to be a pastry basic this extremely light sponge cake contains no leavening agents and is created by whipping a warm egg and sugar foam to its highest volume then folding in the flour and cocoa powder followed by a small amount of melted butter. This is where the technique of folding in the dry ingredients followed by a little melted butter must be done with utmost care to keep the batter from deflating.

The other step that takes some skill is making smooth chocolate cream. Once made it must be used immediately to sandwich the sponge cake layers with dark sour cherries. It is made in a three-step process: first whip heavy cream to soft peaks, then mix 1/4 of the cream into melted dark semi sweet chocolate (couverture). Lastly, pour the chocolate cream base back into the remaining 3/4 of the whipped cream and quickly whisk it all together. If not done correctly the cream will turn into a chocolate chip whipped cream instead of a smooth rich chocolate cream.

Kirshwasser, dark chocolate and sour cherries are the three main flavors of Black Forest Cake

According to legend the cake was created by Josef Keller in 1915 at the Café Agne in Southern Germany in what is now the city of Bonn. The distinguishing feature of this famous torte is the use of Kirshwasser (cherry brandy) that some have called cherry firewater. In the torte, as in all tortes made with sponge cake, the sponge must be saturated with kirshwasser mixed with a simple syrup of sugar and water. Genoise is extremely light however it is somewhat dry if not doused with a syrup.

Lastly, to create the best torte use the best quality Kirshwasser and dark sour cherries to yield the best results. As in all pastry, and cooking as well, the best finished products use the finest base ingredients. Light and creamy with rich chocolate cherry flavors this world famous cake has been and will continue to be a popular dessert that has stood the test of time for over a century.

Listed below is the recipe for the cocoa sponge cake and the chocolate cream. To make the cake cut the cake into three layers and soak each layer with a good kirshwasser simple syrup and sandwich each layer with the chocolate cream and canned sour cherries. Lastly, make more whipped cream and sweeten with a small amount of powdered sugar and ice the entire cake with the cream. Pipe into the top large rosettes of cream and top with cherries. Shave dark chocolate and cover the cake then dust with powdered sugar.

Black Forest Cake (Swartzwalder Kirsch Torte)

Yield 1 -10” cake

Genoise (Sponge Cake)

6 each                                      Extra-Large Eggs

6 oz.                                        Granulated Sugar

4 1/2 oz.                                  All-Purpose Flour or Cake Flour

1 ½ oz.                                    Cocoa Powder

2 1/2 oz.                                  Melted Butter

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar together over a pot of boiling water until warm (110F).
  2. Transfer the egg sugar mix into a mixing machine bowl and whip on high speed until light and frothy (ribbon stage).  Reduce the speed to medium and continue to whip for 10 minutes (this creates a more stable egg/sugar foam)
  3. While the egg foam is mixing, sift the flour and cocoa powder together on to a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Turn off the mixing machine sift in and fold in the dry ingredients by hand (be very gentle and do not over mix or batter will deflate).
  5. Fold in the melted butter last and pour into the cake pan that has been greased and lined with a parchment or wax paper circle covering the bottom.
  6. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until the cake springs back when depressed slightly with your finger-tips.
  7. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and turn over onto parchment paper.
  8. Let cool to room temperature then remove from the pan and use or freeze.

Chocolate Cream

2 cups                                      Heavy Cream (whipped to soft peaks)

8 oz                                         Semi Sweet Dark Chocolate Couverture ( melted)

  1. Mix  1/4th of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate
  2. Quickly whisk in the remaining whipped cream to form a smooth chocolate cream
  3. Use immediately before the cream sets up.