Black Forest Cake with Whipped Cream and fresh cherries

Black Forest Cake {and a special celebration}

This Black Forest Cake may just be the most handsome cake I’ve ever made. Just the right amount of rustic with classic good looks.

Kind of like my husband :)

This cake was made with love to celebrate him on his birthday!

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Black Forest Cake is deep dark chocolate cake, brushed with cherry liqueur simple syrup, and layered with lightly sweetened whipped cream and macerated fresh cherries.

I delivered one to a client recently and she sent me a message “Thank you for the most stunning and delicious cake I have EVER had!”

It’s a show stopper that’s quite easy to pull off!

From the moment I first saw this cake from Liv for Cake I knew I had to recreate it. Olivia includes so many valuable tips, including how to make this super fun chocolate bark! I also took her advice and ordered cake pan strips to help prevent my cakes from doming.

Black Forest Cake Components

Black Forest Cake Ingredients

Let’s break down these components one by one!

The Simple Syrup

First the simple syrup! In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup Kirsch (a clear colorless cherry brandy). You can exclude the Kirsch if you have an aversion to it.

The Cherries

Fresh Cherries

Then on to the cherries! I personally think fresh cherries are what make this cake. Therefore, if you cannot locate them at your local market, pick another cake. I mean, sure you could use the other cherries…the bright red syrupy kind that come in a jar. But….

Begin with two pounds of fresh cherries. Select the 12 most beautiful ones, stems in tact, for decoration. Then remove the stems and pits from the remaining cherries, cut them in half, and place in a bowl.

Cover with the cooled simple syrup and refrigerate until ready to use. Then drain the cherries reserving the simple syrup.

The Cake

Black Forest Cake is rich but not overly sweet. You can make the cake from scratch with fairly common pantry ingredients.

Or you can doctor up a boxed devils food cake mix. Not traditional, but works in a pinch. I have made it both ways and it really comes down to your comfort level. Here are some of my favorite ways to elevate a boxed cake mix:

  • Replace the oil with melted butter
  • Replace the water with another liquid like buttermilk or coffee
  • Add an additional egg
  • For chocolate cake, add a packet of espresso powder
  • For vanilla cake, add a teaspoon of vanilla

The Whipped Cream Frosting

Cold whipping cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla are beaten to stiff peaks. I pop my metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer along with the cream for about 10 minutes.

I used 4 cups of Heavy Whipping Cream, 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, and 1 teaspoon clear vanilla.

The result is a lovely whipped cream that’s not too sweet but oh so light and fluffy.

The Chocolate Bark

If there’s one element of this cake that sold me it was the chocolate bark. And trust me, a 24-inch of parchment paper and a bag of melted chocolate discs, and a little freezer space and you too can make chocolate bark!!

I love these melting wafers from Ghirardelli!

Simply melt the chocolate then using an offset spatula spread it in a thin layer on a long piece of parchment paper. Then roll the parchment paper and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes. When ready to decorate, unroll the chocolate and press the shards into the sides of the cake. Any remaining chocolate pieces can be crushed and sprinkled on top of the cake.

As I look back at the family birthday cakes I’ve made with love…..I’ve got a thing for adding decorations to the sides. I’m certain it has a lot to do with covering up my less than perfect cake-frosting skills. But that’s between you and me!

Last year I wrapped Nick’s Peppermint Mocha Cake in chocolate dipped peppermint sticks.

The year before was Tiramisu Cake wrapped in ladies fingers. :)

The Cake Assembly

For this cake I used three 8-inch cake pans. You could certainly do two 9-inch and cut the cakes in half.

To assemble, place the first cake layer on your cake stand or plate. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake with the cherry simple syrup that you’ve drained off the cherries. I like to add 2 to 3 light layers of syrup so that it has a chance to soak in.

Then add a generous layer of whipped cream – about 1 cup, spread evenly. Next top with the sliced cherry pieces – about 1 cup. Add your next cake layer and repeat the process, finishing with your last cake layer. Then frost the outside of the cake – reserving about 1 cup of whipped cream for decorating.

Black Forest Cake with Whipped Cream and fresh cherries

I’ve not done a lot of piping, so I was amazed at how beautiful these whipped cream rosettes turned out. I used a disposable pastry bag with a piping tip to create 12 rosettes. Remember those 12 pristine cherries we reserved – now is their time to shine!

Because this Black Forest Cake has a true whipped cream frosting, it will need to remain refrigerated before serving and should be enjoyed within a day or two of assembly.

It’s become an annual tradition to go out to dinner for Nick’s birthday. We bring the cake with us and whatever we don’t finish goes to the restaurant staff! They LOVE it!

It’s also the perfect opportunity for an annual family photo! Happy Holidays from our family to yours. May you have peace, love and happiness in the New Year! And maybe a Black Forest Cake too!

Don’t forget to follow us @LemonyThyme on Instagram and Facebook! And check out our latest TikTok videos and Pinterest boards too!

All my best,
xo Libby

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Black Forest Cake

Olivia with Liv for Cake
Black Forest Cake is deep dark chocolate cake, brushed with cherry liquor simple syrup, and layered with lightly sweetened whipped cream and macerated fresh cherries.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 12


For the Cherry Liqueur Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch cherry liqueur

For the Cherries

  • 2 pounds fresh cherries divided

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

For the Chocolate Bark

  • 10 ounces dark chocolate chopped

For the Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream very cold
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar sifted
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla optional


For the Cherry Liqueur Simple Syrup

  • Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil then remove from heat. Stir in cherry liqueur and allow to cool completely.

For the Fresh Cherries

  • Select the 12 prettiest cherries with stems and set aside. Remove stems and pits from remaining cherries and cut in half. Place in a bowl and pour chilled simple syrup over top. Refrigerate until ready to assemble. Drain cherries, reserving syrup for brushing cake layers during assembly.

For the Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 3 8-inch cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla – then slowly whisk in hot water.
  • Add dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Stir to combine. Add buttermilk/egg mixture and mix on medium for 2-3 minutes. Scraping down sides once.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, the turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

For the Chocolate Bark

  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate in 15 second increments. Lay out a 24" long piece of parchment paper. Pour chocolate onto parchment paper and spread in a thin layer using an offset spatula. Roll the parchment paper from the short side and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

For the Whipped Cream Frosting

  • Chill metal bowl and whisk for 10 minutes. Whip heavy cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

For Assembly

  • Place first cake layer on cake plate. Brush generously with reserved cherry simple syrup. Spread 1 cup of whipped cream, topped with 1 cup of sliced cherries. Top with next cake layer and repeat with simple syrup, whipped cream and cherries. Add final cake layer and frost the outside of the cake, reserving about 1 cup to make piped rosettes.
  • Unroll chilled chocolate bark and arrange pieces around the sides of the cake. Crush any unused bark and sprinkle on top of cake.
  • Using a pastry bag with a piping tip, make 12 whipped cream rosettes around the top of the cake. Place a whole fresh cherry onto each rosette. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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