Recipe #4: Black Forest cake

foret noire detouree

Our fourth recipe has to be this well-known cake named after the German Black Forest. It is usually made of three layers of cocoa-flavored sponge cake sandwiching two layers of whipped cream. Gently tucked in the middle of the cream, sour cherries seared in Kirsch alcohol. The whole thing traditionally comes with shaved chocolate and last but not least, an actual cherry on top of the cake.

Once very popular for family gatherings and/or Sundays lunches, this pastry has become quite oldfashioned and sounds often cheesy in 2013. While the amount of whipped cream makes the difference between a good and a poor Foret Noire, other adaptations can help to make this cake a true reinvented classic. Lighter, funnier, and tastier: the motto of La Pistacheraie’s 1st Black Forest. 1st, because there will soon be a second recipe of Forêt Noire (French for Black Forest) on La ! Stay tuned… 😉 In the meantime, the recipe uses thin layers of cocoa sponge cake, two creams (one with chocolate, the other with kirsch liquor) two kinds of cherries (amarena and fresh cherries) and a chocolate sheet to wrap everything. Thanks and Kudos to Bernard from La Cuisine de Bernard for the initial recipe, available here in French.


Our recipe serves about five or six individual pastries, which is quite convenient if you do not want to end up with a mess while slicing the cake you spent hours to bake ! However, you will need several pastry rings to be able to make all the pastries at a time. Trust me, this is actually a pretty good excuse to buy some… indeed, this pastry has it all: crunchy dark chocolate, dense and silky-smooth whipped cream, soft sponge cake washed with amarena cherries syrup and of course, the scrumtrulescent Amarena Fabbri. Amarena Fabbri are a variety of wild italian sour cherries, almost candied in a syrup that tastes like a cherry lollipop seared in amaretto. Yes, you will really need to get those pastry rings. Amarena Fabbri usually come in white ceramic jars and typically retail for about €12-15 for a 600gr pot. We will use both Amarena cherries and fresh cherries in this pastry in order to have a good balance of fresh and candied flavours.


Beware, this is a real Pandora box hiding a severe addiction for Amarena cherries…

-Level : Complex (4/5)
-Time : 2h00 baking and cake buiding + 3h00 resting and cooling down/warming up
-Required tools and appliances: 6 pastry rings 8,5cm wide and 5,5cm high, whip, rhodoïd plastic sheet, spatula, baking sheet, freezer
-Recommended devices: electric whisk/stand mixer, brush
-Cost : ~20€ depending on cherries and Amarena prices (recipe only uses about one third of the 600g Amarena jar)
-Serves: 6 individual black forest pastries, using rings of aforementionned dimensions.
-Specific Ingredients: Amarena Cherries, fresh cherries, Kirsch alcohol

1) Cocoa sponge cake
2) Syrup for cake washing
3) Mascarpone-Kirsch whipped cream
4) Chocolate whipped cream
5) Cake building, first floor
6) Cake building, second floor
7) Chocolate sheet
8) Finishing

To make it clearer, here is a « masterplan » of what you will realize :

black forest La Pistacheraie

1) Cocoa sponge cake:
-3 mid-sized eggs
-95g caster sugar
-60g wheat flour (for pastry)
-20g corn starch
-40g dusted cocoa powder (100% pure)
-30g unsalted butter

Whip eggs and caster sugar together at full speed for about 5 minutes.

Keep on whipping at a lower speed for another 5 minutes until the batter is light, smooth and airy.
In a separate bowl, mix together wheat, starch and cocoa powder. Make sure there is no lump in this powder.

Using a spatula, fold in gently the powder in your egg batter, gently cutting through with the spatula.

Fold in the melted butter.

Pour this batter on a baking tray/sheet and level it with a spatula until it is 4-5mm thick.

Bake it for 7 minutes at 180°C.
Remove from the hot tray and keep it under a clean dishcloth until it is cold/at room temperature.

Once cold, use one of the pastry rings to cut circles of biscuit. You will need 3 layers of cake per pastry, so make sure you have 18 of them.

2) Syrup for cake-washing

-About 1/3-1/2 the syrup of one 600g Amarena Jar, or all the syrup of a small (230g, pictured below) Amarena jar
-2 Tbsp kirsch alcohol (a type of cherry alcohol often used in pastries)
-4 Tbsp water.

Add the kirsch and water to the syrup and stir well. Quite a simple step here 😀

3) Mascarpone-Kirsch whipped cream:

-130g fresh mascarpone cheese
-150g full fat fresh cream
-40g icing sugar
-3 Tbsp Kirsch alcohol

Put everything except the kirsch into a large bowl, and put this in the freezer for a good fifteen minutes.
Whip it until it is quite stiff (but not too much) and just before you finish whipping, add the Kirsch alcohol.

Keep it cool until needed.

4) Chocolate whipped cream

-150g full fat whipped cream (very cold)
-50g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa grade)
-1 Tbsp dusted cocoa powder
-10g icing sugar

Melt the chocolate until it is liquid (do not use a microwave !) and leave it to cool a little bit for about 10 min.
Meanwhile, whip the cold cream with icing sugar until it begins to become stiff. Once you reach this stage, fold in the melted chocolate and cocoa powder and whip until the cream has a dense texture and looks homogenous.

Keep it cool until needed.

5) Cake building, first floor 

-Approximately 30 amarena cherries
-2 circles of sponge cake per ring
-2/3 of the syrup quantity
-Both cream bowls.

On a tray that fits in your freezer, put a pastry ring.
Fit the first circle of sponge cake.
Use a brush to wash the cake with the syrup. Do not hesitate to put a lot of syrup.
Using a spatula, spread some of your mascarpone-kirsch whipped cream against the pastry ring, as pictured below. Spread a small quantity of cream on the cake as well.
Put 5-6 amarena cherries in the middle.

Cover the amarena cherries with the chocolate cream until you do not see the amarena anymore.

Remove about 1,5cm width in 6 of your sponge cake circles.
This operation will make a lot easier for the next step: put this smaller circle of cake on top of the chocolate cream.
Wash it with syrup just like you did for the bottom one.

Put everything in the freezer for one hour. It will stiffen the cream layers and allow you to finish of the second layer !

6) Cake building, second floor

-A few ripe fresh cherries (about 4 per pastry, so total 24…)

Remove the pit of the fresh cherries.
Remove your pastries from the freezer and put the cherries (without kernels !) on top of your second layer of cake.

Cover everything with chocolate cream and level it up to the top of the pastry ring. (not pictured here, sorry guys  )

Put your last circle of sponge cake on top of your back forest cakes and wash it with the syrup.

Put everything in the freezer for half an hour.

7) Chocolate sheet

-150g dark bittersweet chocolate
-Rhodoïd plastic sheets of 5,5cm height and 28cm length

This will be used to wrap the pastry in it.

Cut bands in your rhodoïd plastic sheet of the required length to wrap your pastries.
That would be: 3,14*2*4,25= approx. 27cm. Make it 28 to have a bit of margin.
The height has to be the same one than your rings, therefore 5,5cm here.

Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler. When it is really liquid (it will only happen if you are using good quality chocolate), spread a very thin layer on your rhodoid plastic band with a spatula.
Leave it to cool for a couple of minutes at room temperature. The chocolate will then start to set.

Meanwhile, remove your frozen pastries from the freezer, one at a time. Gently remove the metal rings to get this:
(you may use an hair dryer to facilitate the removal of pastry rings).

Avoid wasting too much time here and immediately applicate the chocolate sheet against the frozen surface of your pastry. Hold it for a few seconds, until you can feel that the chocolate has set. Put it back in the freezer for about fifteen minutes.

Once the time is elapsed (basically, the first one should be ready by the time you completed the sixth one…), remove it from the freezer and gently peel off the plastic. This should reveal a shiny sheet of chocolate. Cut off the extra centimeter or so to have a clean pastry.

8) Finishing

Use the rest of the mascarpone cream to sprinkle the top of your pastries. Add some shaved chocolate and an amarena cherry on top.

Eat cold but not frozen : you will have to wait until your Black Forest cake is at fridge temperature…
The chocolate sheet should be very crispy, the cream should be dense and smooth and the cherries should not be frozen either.

Enjoy each layer !


3 réflexions sur “Recipe #4: Black Forest cake

  1. Please in French !!! Oui, parce que mon anglais il date du lycée… et ça laisse à désirer !!
    Merci Patron !

    • L’article est déjà disponible en français dans la rubrique « Recettes » ! Toutes les recettes publiées en anglais ont d’abord été publiées en français. Mais vous avez raison, je devrais mettre un lien vers l’article en français aussi.

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