24 ounce (700 ml) jar of Morello Cherries in syrup
4 tablespoons Kirsch or Cherry Brandy
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons (42 grams) hot melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup (60 grams) cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
4 large eggs
2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Frosting
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35% butterfat)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (35 grams) granulated white sugar
Cherries: Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid. Place the cherries in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons Kirsch. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside. Place 1 cup (240 ml) of the reserved cherry syrup in a small saucepan, along with the sugar, and heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, add 2 tablespoons Kirsch, and let cool.
Chocolate Genoise: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a non stick spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan and line the bottom of pan with parchment or wax paper.
In a bowl, sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder. In a heatproof bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, and whisking constantly, heat until lukewarm (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on high speed until the mixture is thick (about 5 minutes) (the batter will fall back into the bowl in a ribbon-like pattern). Beat in the vanilla extract. Then sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold in using a rubber spatula or whisk. Sift and fold in another third, and then fold in the rest. Take 1 cup of the batter and fold it into the melted butter (to lighten it). Then gently fold it into the egg batter. Pour into your pan, smoothing the top. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (cake starts to shrink from sides of pan). Cool on a metal rack before removing from pan. The cake can be stored for two days or frozen for a month.
Whipped Cream Frosting: In your mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and wire whisk in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, then beat the mixture just until stiff peaks form.
Assemble Cake: Using a sharp knife, cut the genoise, horizontally, into two layers. Turn over the top layer of the cake (top of cake becomes bottom) and place on your serving plate. Brush the cake layer with 1/4 cup (60 ml) cherry syrup. Take 1 cup of whipped cream and spread on the moistened genoise. Place the cherries evenly over the cream. Brush the cut-side of second genoise layer with 1/4 cup (60 ml) syrup. Place cut-side down on top of the cherries, gently pressing to compact. Reserve one cup (240 ml) of whipped cream and spread the remaining cream over top and sides of cake. Place reserved cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe rosettes on top of cake. Cover and refrigerate the cake for several hours (or overnight) before serving. Decorate with fresh cherries and shaved chocolate.
To me, a Black Forest Cake is a party cake. What says "celebration" more than dark chocolate cake, Kirsch flavored Morello cherries, and loads of sweet whipped cream? As its name implies, Black Forest Cake comes from the Black Forest region of Germany. The first written recipe for this very popular cake appeared in 1934, and there are many theories as to its origin. Heston Blumenthal in his book "In Search of Perfection" gives an excellent account of its history. He tells us that some believe its name 'Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte' is a tribute to the Kirsch (cherry distillate) flavor that is prominent in this dessert. (Kirsch is made in over 14,000 distilleries in the region.) Others say that the chocolate shavings that garnish the cake remind people of the thick trees that grow in the Black Forest. The cake's origin, itself, also has a few stories. It could have originated from a dessert that was made in the region that combined cream, cherries, and Kirsch, although it was not a cake. Some say the chocolate part of the cake originated in another part of Germany (Bad Godesburg). There is also a story that a Dutchman who settled in the region invented the cake. Although we may never know its true origin, everyone will agree that this cake is both beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.
We begin this dessert by making a chocolate cake. I like to use a Chocolate Genoise as its light and airy texture is perfect for absorbing the Kirsch flavored cherry syrup we brush on the cake to make it deliciously moist. A Chocolate Genoise is similar to a sponge cake, although it does differ in that the eggs are not separated and it contains a little melted butter. It is, however, like other sponge cakes in that it is leavened solely by the air beaten into the egg and sugar mixture. To make a light and airy genoise we first warm the eggs and sugar, over a water bath, which melts the sugar so that the eggs will reach their full volume when beaten. The eggs and sugar are beaten until thick (the batter becomes lighter and paler in color as it thickens). The other difference between a regular sponge cake and a genoise is that we add warm melted butter which makes the genoise light and tender with a nice flavor. The melted butter needs to be warm, however, so it does not solidify once it is added to the cake batter, causing streaks, or worse yet, causing the batter to deflate. Once baked, the genoise can be covered and stored for a few days, or frozen for up to a month.
A Black Forest Cake would not be the same without the sour Morello cherries. These tart flavored cherries perfectly complement the rich chocolate flavor of the cake and the sweet whipped cream. I like to use the bottled dark mahogany red colored Morello Cherries that are packed in a light syrup. You can usually find them in specialty food stores (Trader Joe's) or some grocery stores (Whole Foods). If you cannot find them, use canned sour cherries that are packed in water. Now, once the cherries have been drained, take 1 cup (240 ml) of the syrup, add a little sugar, and then heat it to dissolve the sugar. We then add a little Kirsch to intensify the cherry flavor of the syrup. (If you are using sour cherries packed in water, you need to add a little more sugar than the recipe states as they are more tart tasting than cherries that are packed in light syrup.) This juice is used to soak the chocolate genoise to accentuate the cherry flavor of this dessert and to moisten the cake. I like to make this dessert a day before serving to allow the flavors to mingle and for the soaking syrup to fully moisten and flavor the cake.