A few months ago when Cole and I returned from our trip to Germany, we brought back a couple bottles of Kirsch.
If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a sweet (yet strong) cherry liqueur. Although it’s unknown where Kirsch originally comes from, it’s thought to have been originally made within the Black Forest.
Why? Well, you’ve probably heard of the most famous black forest dish, Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte. Translation: Black Forest Cake. Although most store bought cakes are alcohol-free, in the black forest, Kirsch is the star ingredient.
While we were driving in and around the Black Forest region, we made a purpose of testing out some of the best black forest cakes the region had to offer, and determining if the Kirsch really made a difference. (Focusing, on Cafe Konig in Baden-Baden and Cafe Schaefer in Triberg).
What we found were layers of exceptionally light and moist chocolate cake, sandwiched between tart Kirsch-soaked cherries and Kirsch-infused whipped cream. It was decadent yet light – the perfect selection for breakfast, afternoon tea, or dessert.
And, although my enjoyment of each slice decreased with the level of Kirsch poured into it, Cole’s enjoyment, conversely, increased. So, I’m more than willing to bet you’ll all be more like him and find yourselves adding a couple more tablespoons to the mix.
Once we carted our bottles back home, we waited for a special occasion to break them out and whip up a cake. Eager to put our past taste-testing experience to work.
The end result was a rich and luxurious treat, perfect for a special dinner with friends or family. We tested two different cake recipes, finding it hard to match just how light and fluffy the true Black Forest cakes were. But, that just means you’ll have to head there for yourself one day.
Below, is the recipe which we found worked best. This dish is truly a labour of love, so be sure you set aside an afternoon to make it.
For the Cherry Filling *start first*
4 cups (or 3 cans) of Bing cherries, pitted
12 whole cherries for decor (maraschino works)
3 Tablespoons Kirsch
1/2 cup cold water
1. Chop the cherries and place in a bowl with Kirsch.
2. Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes, stirring a couple times. The longer you leave the cherries to soak, the more Kirsch-infused they will be. We left ours for a few hours.
3. Place the cherries over a bowl and drain the syrup. Then, add water to the syrup and save for later.
For the Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour (sifted)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup butter or margarine (melted)
1. Beat the eggs at a high speed until they are light yellow and very fluffy. Then, gradually add in the sugar, making sure each portion is mixed in well before adding the next addition. Beat for 10 minutes until thick (sort of like the eggs in a souffle). Then, add vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa together. Then, gradually “fold” this mix into the egg batter using a spatula (1/4 of the flour mix at a time). Finally, again in 1/4s, “fold” the butter into the mix, being as gentle as possible.
Here is an excellent youtube video if you’re wondering what folding in means: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP4vbktd-PM (go to 15 seconds in). Basically, you’re trying to incorporate everything as gently as possible so the air stays in and your cake is light and fluffy.
3. Gently pour into three greased & floured baking pans, and cook at 350F for 15 minutes. Remove and cool for 5 minutes, before gently taking them from the pans and cooling completely. If you’re tight on baking pans, you can also make one larger cake and then cut it in half horizontally – but, this will require being extra careful that it doesn’t break.
For the Whipped Cream
*prior to making, freeze bowl and whisk attachment for 15 minutes*
3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 – 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 – 4 Tablespoons Kirsch
3 – 4 oz dark chocolate
Beat the cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the confectioners sugar and Kirsch, beating on high until stiff (1-2 minutes). This section is really made to taste, so I would start with the minimum allotments and then add more sugar or liqueur as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
1. Place the first layer of cake onto your stand or plate, and brush liberally with the cherry syrup. Cover the top with 1/4 of your whipped topping, and then with 1/3 of your cherries.
3. Shave the chocolate into tiny pieces and then sprinkle all over the cake (it will cling to the whipped topping).
4. Add your full sized cherries around the top as place holders for each piece, if desired. I forgot to purchase additional cherries, so I used large chunks of chocolate and no one seemed to mind!
A full cake will easily make 14 large slices.
Let me know how it turns out!