Black Forest Cake has never appealed to me. Chocolate cake? Sure. Layers of soft cream? Of course. Cherries? Byeeee!
I have a very specific memory of coming home one day in Germany to find one of our neighbors sitting at the picnic table outside our building with some half eaten cherries in front of her that she had picked from the trees along our street. Apparently some turned out to be harboring worms, which is a horrifying thing to show an eight year old, and I’m sure this is why I never learned to love cherries until a few years ago. I was that kid who always left the maraschinos in the bottom of her empty Shirley Temple glass, or picked them off of sundaes, although I always loved finding one in my can of fruit cocktail (but only in that context, where you could argue every piece of “fruit” just tastes like the syrup it’s sitting in).
But even once I realized that cherries are little tiny stone fruit flavor bombs to be savored during their cruelly short season, I still didn’t have any interest in finding them in cake. This could be that the only examples of Black Forest cake I’m ever confronted with are the supermarket varieties, with their too-sweet icing and crowns of (still) hated maraschinos. Last time I was handed a slice of that at someone’s birthday party, I ate a few forkfuls of frosting and set it aside, thinking that this just couldn’t be the real thing.
And to my utter non-surprise, it’s not. One day, hopefully, I’ll find the real deal on a menu somewhere, but for now, I knew I wouldn’t be making it in my own kitchen any time soon. A true Schwartzwäld Kirschtorte (for those of us who took high school German) is a chocolate-flecked tower of chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, and black or sour cherries. An extra boozy cherry flavor comes from soaking the cake layers in Schwartzwäld Kirschwasser, a German cherry brandy that also gives the cake its name. Sounds much better than those neon grocery store cakes, but it also calls for some very specific ingredients, ones I didn’t particularly feel like hunting down. So I hypocritically took a page from supermarket bakeries and made my own abridged version, in cute whoopie pie form. My cakes are not made from a traditional sponge cake, but they are soaked in a (domestic) kirsch syrup, filled with lightly sweetened cream and a cherry jam, and dusted with chocolate curls. Not strictly authentic, but I promise, delicious.
Black Forest Whoopie Pies
Cake recipe from Katie Lee
For the cakes:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
For the kirsch syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbs kirsch
For the filling:
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp sugar
splash vanilla extract
1/2 cup cherry jam
1/2 oz square of semi sweet chocolate
- Make the cakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
- In the bowl of a mixer place sugar and butter and mix on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
- Mix in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk so that you end with the flour mixture. Chill mixture for one hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare two large baking sheets by lining with parchment and spraying with cooking spray. Scoop the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between (they will spread). I used a 4 oz scoop, which made giant whoopie pies, but a 2 oz scoop is probably better.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until tops are firm and cakes are no longer glossy. Let cool for one hour on a wire rack.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the kirsch syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the kirsch. Set aside to cool.
- To fill the whoopie pies: Place the cakes bottom up on a cookie sheet or counter and brush with the kirsch syrup. Beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spoon the cream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the cream around the outside edge of half of the cakes, leaving a well in the center. Fill the well with a spoonful or so of cherry jam, and top with another cake.
- Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, shave the chocolate into small curls and sprinkle around the edges of the cakes onto the whipped cream. Serve immediately.