On New Year’s Eve we celebrated Mini SGCC’s 18th birthday. That’s right. My baby is now legally an adult.
Of course, that means nothing to me. In my mind, she will always be my little curly-haired cherub.
One would think that Mr. SGCC and I can now sit back, relax and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. But, I have a feeling that our headaches aren’t over yet! Mini SGCC is a good kid, but she is fiercely independent and knows her own mind. That is how we raised her to be. Hopefully it won’t come back to bite us in the butt, now that we can’t really tell her what to do anymore.
I find it ironic that we parents spend all those years worrying and fretting over our kids, only to worry and fret even more when they grow up! I now understand what my parents were talking about all those times they said that “A son is a son till he takes him a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all of her life.”
In honor of the occasion, I decided to bake Mini SGCC’s favorite cake: a Black Forest Cake. I’d never baked a Black Forest cake before, and frankly, the prospect made me a little nervous. It’s a fancy schmancy German confection consisting of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and brandied cherries between each layer. Originally called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, the entire cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. When made well, it is a masterpiece. When made by me – I wasn’t so sure!
The base of a Black Forest cake is a rich chocolate cake. Most of the recipes I found used a Devil’s food cake, so that is what I decided to do. I used the Devil’s food cake recipe from Baked Explorations , by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Everything I’ve ever made from that book has turned out great, so I was confident that this cake would as well.
Although traditional Black Forest cakes are made with sour cherries, I went with sweet Bings. The canned sour cherries I found in the market were just sad, little grayish blobs that tasted like crap. Very unappetizing! Besides, we like big, fat Bing cherries better. Plus, they are easier to find around here.
Since I would be serving the cake to children, I soaked the cake in a syrup that I made by reducing the cherry liquid and Kirschwasser, a cherry liqueur, instead of just using the liqueur alone. I think it tasted better that way.
A Black Forest cake usually has several layers. However, in the interest of time (and my sanity), I opted to only make a two layer cake. It was fine, though. This cake was plenty rich just as it was.
I frosted the whole cake with freshly whipped cream and decorated it with some Maraschino cherries and shaved dark chocolate. I think it turned out very pretty, if I do say so myself.
Mini SGCC’s boyfriend’s birthday is just a few days after hers, so the cake was kinda for him too. Here are Mini SGCC and The Boy blowing out their candles, as Mr. SGCC looks on with a grumpy look on his face. All together now: AWWW!
I have to say, I don’t know what I was so worried about with this cake. It was really quite easy to make, and it was amazing. The cake layers were wonderfully dense and moist, and the cherry filling was absolutely to die for! Everyone who tried it was wowed.
If you’re looking for a fancy cake for a special occasion, I highly recommend this Black Forest cake. While it looks like it took all day to make, it actually can be pulled off in just a few hours.
Black Forest Cake
- 1 can sweet Bing cherries in heavy syrup, drained with 1/2 cup syrup reserved.
- 2 tablespoons Kirschwasser or cherry brandy
- 1 cup Bing Cherry jam or preserves
- 1 baked and cooled Devil’s Food cake (recipe follows)
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Maraschino cherries and dark chocolate shavings for garnish
- Bake the Devil’s food cake using the recipe below.
- While cake is baking, mix reserved cherry syrup together with the Kirschwasser in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Pat cherries dry with paper towels in a medium bowl. Add jam or preserves and mix well until cherries are fully coated. Set aside.
- While cake is cooling, whip cream with sugar until stiff peaks form. Store whipped cream in the fridge until ready to use.
- When cake is cooled, brush Kirschwasser syrup onto one side of each cake layer with a pastry brush.Be careful not to use too much or the cake will get soggy. Put one of the cakes on a cake board, wet side up. This will be the bottom layer of your cake.
- Spread a thick layer of whipped cream onto the wet side of the bottom cake layer. Top with the Bing cherry/jam filling. Next, spread a little more whipped cream on top. The cream will help to “glue” the cherries in place. Place the second cake on top of the filling, wet side down.
- Frost the cake with the rest of the whipped cream. Save a little of the cream for piping rosettes. Once frosted, pipe several small rosettes around the top perimeter of the cake, and place a Maraschino cherry on each. Gently press chocolate shavings around the side of the cake and sprinkle some on top. Chill cake in the fridge until ready to serve.
Devil’s Food Cake
adapted from Baked Explorations 
- 1 ounce good quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup hot brewed coffee
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment, and tap out the excess flour.
- Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot coffee directly over them and whisk until combined. Add the milk and whisk until smooth.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 30 seconds.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three parts, alternating with the chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
- Divide the batter into prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 45 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.
Makes two 8-inch cakes.