If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you most likely know that I grew up in Germany’s Black Forest. My dad and I had birthdays one day apart, and sometimes celebrated on the day in between.
On those special occasions, my mom would buy a “Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte” at the local bakery. Bäckerei Wiedemann to be exact! Their cakes, pastries, breads, rolls and Bretzel never disappointed!
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte birthday celebrations remain a favorite childhood memory of mine to this day!
There is something deliciously magical about combining chocolate, cherries, a little Kirschwasser and real whipped cream that makes it worth the time and effort for a special occasion! Leftover cake keeps well and I think it’s actually tastier on the third day!
Making a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is a somewhat involved process. All the individual steps are quite easy to do, but it’s important to start a couple of days before the celebration, so the flavors have a chance to meld! That’s really important!
I usually bake the cake on Day 1. Once it’s baked I cool the layers on a baking rack overnight, covered with a clean kitchen towel. Day 2 I prepare the cherry filling and let it cool. Then I prepare the whipped cream and keep it in the fridge until it’s assembly time.
In Germany, and probably at many German delis in the US, you can buy a product called “Sahnesteif”. It helps whipped cream to remain firm for several days. I didn’t think of it ahead of time and found a homemade version online, where I discovered that Sahnesteif is simply a mixture of equal parts of corn starch and powdered sugar. The homemade version worked perfectly, and it’s without added chemicals. Once the torte is assembled let it rest in the refrigerator overnight for the best flavor.
The only other special ingredient you’ll need is real Kirschwasser, a German cherry schnapps. It’s strong, not sweet, and absolutely essential.
This is not a low-cal kind of dessert, which is why I don’t bake it very often. I did however want a special cake last month when I invited Marlene, Misty and Robbie over to celebrate all of our birthdays together. We ate German potato pancakes and then had Kaffeetrinken!
Here’s the recipe:
The Black Mocha Cake (from Moosewood):
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup fresh strong coffee, cooled to room temperature
- 1 cup milk, buttermilk or yoghurt
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- some dark or bittersweet chocolate for grating and decorating
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Lightly grease two 9 inch cake pans with either cooking spray or butter.
Put a little flour into the pans and shake them around (over the sink) to distribute the flour well.
Shake out the excess and set the pans aside.
In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients and mix them well.
In a separate bowl, beat all the wet ingredients with an electric mixer until well blended.
Next, add half of the liquid to the flour mixture and beat until smooth.
Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
Bake for about 25 to 40 minutes.
Check the cake with a clean knife after about 25 minutes. It’s done when the knife comes out clean.
Cool the cake on a rack for about 15 minutes.
Carefully turn them out onto the rack and let them sit overnight, covered with a clean dishtowel.
The Cherry Filling:
- 1 bag of frozen, unsweetened dark cherries (Trader Joe’s has them in 12 oz. bags)
- 8 oz of reserved cherry juice (reserve the juice when you defrost the cherries), divided
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
- 6 tablespoons Kirschwasser
Defrost the cherries and save the juice.
If there is less than a cup, add water.
Cut the cherries into quarters, but reserve about 12 for decoration.
Mix half the juice with the sugar and cinnamon.
Put the rest of the cherry juice into a small sauce pan and mix in the corn starch.
Bring this to a full boil and then add the juice/sugar/cinnamon mixture and return to a boil.
Add the cherries and briefly boil again until slightly thickened.
Taste and add a little more sugar if needed.
Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool.
When it’s no longer hot add the Kirschwasser.
Set this aside until you’re ready to assemble the cake.
The Whipped Cream:
- 2 pints of real whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 5 tablespoons Kirschwasser
First make the Sahnesteif by sifting together the cornstarch and powdered sugar.
Pour the whipping cream into a large bowl and beat with an electric beater.
When the cream starts to form soft peaks, add the Sahnesteif and the 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Continue to beat until the cream is firm, then add the Kirschwasser and briefly blend it in.
Don’t over-beat it though because it can quickly into butter.
Cut some parchment paper into smaller strips and place them onto your serving platter.
This will keep the plate clean and the cake edges won’t get smooshed when you try to clean it up later.
Place the first cake layer into the center of the plate.
Sprinkle the cake generously with about 1/4 cup of the Kirschwasser.
Put the cherry filling into the center and spread it outward to evenly cover the layer.
Leave a little room along the edge.
Next, add some whipped cream and carefully spread it out to the edges.
Place the second cake layer on top and sprinkle it with another 1/4 cup of Kirschwasser.
Spread whipped cream along the outside of the cake first, then on top.
Even out the cream and make sure all the cherry filling and cake is covered.
Coarsely grate some dark or bittersweet chocolate and carefully decorate the entire torte with the chocolate.
Put the reserved whole cherries around the outside edge of the cake.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Once the cake is chilled, take a butter knife and carefully guide it along the edge of the cake.
Make sure you hold on to the paper and plate so the cake doesn’t slide off if you tilt it.
Center the cake on the platter and then carefully pull out the parchment paper.
Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate until the next day.
A dollop of leftover whipped cream is delicious in a fresh cup of steaming hot coffee!