Saturday, March 12, 2011

Black Forest Cake

My version of Black Forest cake
Copyright 2011 LtDan’sKitchen blogs
Back when I weighed 140 lbs, I could eat a horse and not gain an ounce. Sadly those days were gone! In the early 90s, I was staying at Quezon City (my Alma mater, the University of the Philippines, Diliman was located in Quezon City) and was renting a room along with three other guys all of us attending the same University. The room had four cabinets, two bunk beds and a table for all of us to share. I had this roommate, Lemuel, who shared my passion for sweet things. Every now and then, we would test ourselves on how much sweets we can consume in one sitting and one of our favorite jaunts was Dunkin' Donuts. We will buy a dozen assorted donuts plus two more extra ones (cake donuts) from Mister Donuts, a competitor of Dunkin. We then head home and eat the donuts until everything were consumed or until we feel like we can no longer eat without throwing up. We eventually outgrew Dunkin' Donuts and set our sights to a much more upscale treat, the Black Forest cake of Red Ribbon. Laced with rum, it was a challenge to not only consume the cake but to ward off the intoxication after eating the whole cake meant to serve sixteen people and not two. I loved this cake so much I had to figure out how to make it since the Red Ribbon bake shop had not opened a branch in my hometown. They did eventually in 2004 which was really pointless as I was already in graduate school here. 

Using a combination of trial and error and a large dose of tenacity, I finally managed to synthesize my version of the cake that was as close  as possible to the inspiration. Sadly, the last time I went home and bought a box of cake for the family to eat, their Black Forest cake was no longer as good 20 years ago. My version surpassed the original and that made me sad. Well, only for a bit since I can make my own cake anyways, what's the point of crying over spilled milk? 

Making it's online debut, an original recipe from me. Incidentally, my Indian friend claims this as his favorite cake while a German friend who hates Black Forest cakes, not my Black Forest, just the cake in general never tried my version.

Dan’s Black Forest Cake

Copyright 2011 LtDansKitchen blogs

1 ½ cups flour
10 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cup sugar
4 eggs separated
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
½ tsp vanilla

1.  Sift all solid ingredients and add the sugar. Mix well and make a well in the center.
2.  Combine egg yolks, oil, milk and vanilla. Mix well with wire a whisk. Add into the flour mixture.
3.  Beat the egg whites until stiff peak forms. Fold into the batter.
4.  Divide the batter into two 9” greased round pans lined with wax paper.
5.  Bake at 350oF in a preheated oven for about 30-45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
6.  Cool in wire racks and cut cakes into two to make a four-layer cake.

Cherry Filling:

1 bottle (24-30 oz) of maraschino cherries (or fresh cherries if in season)
½ cup syrup from the maraschino bottle
¼ cup rum, brandy or coffee liqueur + 4 tbsp extra for drizzling
¼ cup sugar (if using fresh cherries)
1 tbsp. corn starch

1.  Reserve about 16 cherries for garnishing and slice the rest into halves.
2.  Simmer the sliced cherries and ½ cup cherry syrup from the bottle (or 1:1 ratio of liqueur and water if using fresh cherries) over low heat. Add the sugar (if using) and the liqueur.
3.  Dissolve the corn starch in about 2 tbsp of water and add into the cherry filling. Let the syrup thicken. Make sure that the syrup coats the back of the spoon when lifted.
4.  Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Cream frosting:

4 cups of chilled heavy whipping cream
1 packet unflavored gelatin (dissolved in ¼ cup hot water)
¼ cup of confectioner’s sugar
½ tsp vanilla

1.  Chill the cream in the fridge for at least a day.
2.  In a cold metal bowl (freeze metal bowl and beaters for about 10 minutes before using it), beat the cream at medium speed and slowly drizzle in gelatin. Increase the speed to medium high and gradually add in the sugar. Continue beating until the stiff peak stage. Add the vanilla and combine to mix. 
3.  Keep the frosting in the fridge unless you are ready to use it. It is best to make the cream prior to frosting the cake.


1.  In a large cake dish, lay one cake layer and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of liqueur. Spread a third of the cherry filling and top with about a fifth of the cream frosting.
2.  Lay the second layer of cake and do the same as above.
3.  Drizzle the top layer with 1 tbsp of liqueur. If the layers start to slide, cool the cake in the fridge until it firms up a bit. It is best to do the assembly and frosting of the cake on the coolest part of the day.
4.  Cover the cake with a crumb coat and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour. Add the final frosting and pipe rosettes of the cream filling on top of the cake and garnish with chocolate curls* (semisweet or bittersweet). Top rosettes with the reserved cherries. Let the cake rest in the fridge in a cake box for about 6 hours before serving.

*You can get a block of chocolate and use a vegetable peeler to make the curls. Or you can melt about 8 oz semisweet chocolate on a double boiler and cool in a plastic container lined with Saran wrap until it sets.



  1. It is 4 a.m. here right now, and I haven't slept all night, but I would totally make this right now if I weren't out of unflavored gelatin... crappy! I am so bummed!

  2. Carrie, hope this works for you. Cakes are a bit testy depending on humidity. You can totally switch out the cake recipe for something you have and it should be okay. I've made this cake using the chocolate cake recipe on the label of a Hershey baking cocoa powder canister before.

  3. I made this over the weekend and it was amazing. I followed your recipe exactly and everything turned out perfect! I'm thinking your tiramisu for next weekend! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  4. Carrie, I'm glad it worked out. The flavors actually improve over time and I love this cake more on the second or third day if it is not gone by then. :)

  5. Hi! Just wondering what brand of liqueur did u use? I wanna try this too! :)

    1. Carmel,

      Kirsch or a fruit brandy made with cherries is the traditional liquor for this cake. A bit expensive though. I use either Kahlua, Captain Morgan Spiced rum or Coral Bay White Rum instead. Just don't get the cheapest bottle but don't sweat it with the most expensive ones as well.

  6. thanks! i have everything in my pantry here except for the rum. Will grab a bottle of kahlua later (is it better than captain morgan for this recipe)?

    1. Carmel, I prefer rum over Kahlua but either one is good. They will have a slightly different taste but it is a matter of preference.

    2. Carmel, I had to read through the recipe again and I made some minor changes. This was posted a long time ago and I realized some instructions were a bit incomplete so I made the necessary changes. If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I'll try to answer them ASAP.

  7. hey Dan, thank you so much! my cake turned out delicious! I followed your cherry filling and cream frosting recipe since i already have chocolate cakes in the freezer i made a couple of days ago (recipe is from hershey's label). My only complaint is that the cream frosting is not too sweet but then it's just me :)

    also u forgot to include the vanilla in your instructions. ^_^ here's the link to my post

    1. Carmel,

      Thanks for the heads up. Took care of the missing vanilla in the recipe. I'm glad your cake turned out well. My frosting is almost always not too sweet which is what I prefer and what my friends prefer. I think the original recipe is also not too sweet but the last time I went home, the same cake from the same store was way too sweet. Either they changed their recipe or my memory is failing me. Will check your post definitely. : )


  8. Replies
    1. Aileen, unless otherwise specified, flour means all purpose flour. - Dan