Black Forest Cake

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This Black Forest Cake is made with a moist chocolate cake, fresh whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur, otherwise known as kirschwasser! It’s moist, delicious and full of flavor!

This recipe uses my moist chocolate cake as a base for the entire cake. If you’re looking for a seriously good, easy chocolate cake, that recipe is it!

Black Forest Cake - layers of moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur! Completely homemade!

What Is Black Forest Cake?

Black Forest Cake has been around for ages and is a traditional German cake known for its layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and most importantly, a clear liqueur made from sour cherries called kirschwasser. It’s a delicious cake that’s perfect for this time of year with all the fresh cherries available.

How Do You Make Black Forest Cake?

Step 1: Make the Cherry Mixture

To get started with this Black Forest Cake, you’ll make the cherry mixture. Traditionally, Black Forest Cake brushes the layers of chocolate cake with cherry liqueur and then adds chopped cherries to the whipped cream filling. I personally really like to taste my flavors and the cherries a little more, so I mixed it up a bit.

The cherry liqueur is gently cooked over the stove with the cherries. It softens the cherries up a bit and releases their juices. The filling is thickened up a bit with some cornstarch, but it’s still quite syrup-y. The whole mixture is delightful. You really taste the cherries and the liqueur and pretty much want to eat it with a spoon, though you’d have to be careful because it’s fairly strong.

Step 2: Make the Chocolate Cake Layers

Next up are the chocolate cake layers. I’m a big fan of this chocolate cake. It’s super moist and light and full of chocolate flavor! Plus, it’s super simple to make and could even be made with just a bowl and a whisk!

Black Forest Cake - layers of moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur! Completely from scratch!Black Forest Cake - layers of moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur! Completely from scratch!

Step 3: Make Your Homemade Whipped Cream

Once the filling and cake layers are ready, it’s time to make the whipped cream. It’s a stabilized whipped cream that I use regularly and love. The powdered sugar is what stabilizes it, so be sure to leave it in the whipped cream. I know it might be tempting to reduce it, but it’s actually quite important here.

Step 4: Assemble Your Black Forest Cake

To build the cake, put your first cake layer on a serving plate, cake stand or cardboard cake round. Spread about a cup of the cherry and liqueur mixture onto the cake. The juices will soak into the chocolate cake and add more moisture and flavor to each layer. Top the cherries with an even layer of whipped cream and then repeat.

Frost the cake with the remaining whipped cream. You’ll want to be sure to add a somewhat thick layer of whipped cream to get full coverage. The chocolate cake will be visible through the whipped cream otherwise.

Step 5: Garnish with Cherries and Chocolate Ganache

The whole cake really is quite simple to make, as far as cakes go. The filling is quick, the chocolate cake is easy, peasy and the whipped cream frosting is about as easy as frosting can get. Not to mention that it’s so easy to actually apply to the cake and make look lovely with little effort. The only thing that’s a little more time consuming is pitting the cherries and for that, I’d recommend a good cherry pitter.

To finish off the cake, add a drizzle of chocolate ganache, a few swirls of whipped cream and a few more cherries! I also added some chocolate shavings for little texture! The final cake is not only beautiful and fun to look at, but it’s also delicious! The cherries and sour cherry liqueur really come through and compliment the light cream and chocolate cake so well. I also love the softness of the cherries. Such a classic flavor combination – and you can definitely see why.

Black Forest Cake - layers of moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur! Completely from scratch!Black Forest Cake - layers of moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur! Completely from scratch!

What can I use in the Black Forest Cake instead of kirschwasser?

While I definitely recommend the cherry liqueur, you could use another liqueur with a fruity flavor, like raspberry. Something like Chambord might be tasty. If you’re looking to make the cake non-alcoholic, you can just substitute it with water.

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Black Forest Cake

  • Author: Life Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Black Forest Cake is made with a moist chocolate cake, fresh whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur, otherwise known as kirschwasser! It’s a delicious version of the classic German chocolate cake that you can make right at home!



  • 1/2 cup (104g) sugar
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) cherry liqueur (or water)
  • 3 cups (510g) pitted and quartered cherries


  • 1 3/4 cups (228g) all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (85g) cocoa
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) hot water


  • 3 3/4 cups (900ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 2 cups (230g) powdered sugar
  • 3 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  • 3 oz (1/2 cup | 86g) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy whipping cream


1. To make the cherry mixture, combine the sugar, cornstarch and liqueur (or water) in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Heat until the mixture is wet and the sugar begins to melt.
2. Add the cherries and stir to coat them with the sugar mixture. Cook mixture until the cherries start to soften and let out juices.
3. Remove from heat when the cherries are juicy and the juice has begun to thicken. Pour the mixture into another bowl and refrigerate until cool.
4. To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and prepare three 8 inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper in the bottom.
5. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
6. Add the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and eggs to a medium sized bowl and combine.
7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
8. Slowly add the hot water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
10. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
11. To make the whipped cream, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl. Whip with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
12. To layer the cake, first use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the tops of the cakes so they are flat. See my tips on how to level a cake and how to stack a cake.
13. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate or on a cardboard cake round.
14. Pipe a dam around the outside of the cake layer with some of the whipped cream.
15. Spread 3/4 to 1 cup of the cherry mixture on top of the cake, in the center of the dam. The juices will soak into the cake.
16. Fill in the rest of the dam with a layer of whipped cream and spread into an even layer.
17. Add the second layer of cake, then repeat steps 14 thru 16.
18. Add the third and final layer of cake on top.
19. Frost the top and outside of the cake with the whipped cream. Set the cake in the refrigerator.
20. To make the chocolate ganache, add the chocolate chips to a medium sized bowl (see my tips on making chocolate ganache).
21. Heat the heavy whipping cream just until it begins to boil, then pour over the chocolate chips.
22. Allow the chocolate and cream to sit for 1-2 minutes, the whisk until smooth.
23. Drizzle the chocolate ganache around the edge of the cake, then fill in the center. I just swirled it around the top in circles to make a neat looking design. See my tips on making a chocolate drip cake.
24. Pipe swirls of whipped cream around the top of the cake using the remaining whipped cream.
25. Finish off the cake with a few additional cherries and some chocolate shavings. To make the chocolate shavings, just run a vegetable peeler along the edge of a chocolate bar.

Cover and efrigerate cake until ready to serve. Cake is best when consumed within 2-3 days. I like to store my cakes in an airtight carrier (the cupcake inserts are removable for a nice, tall cake carrier).


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 656
  • Sugar: 60.7 g
  • Sodium: 406.5 mg
  • Fat: 36.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 79.1 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Cholesterol: 106.1 mg

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Black Forest Cake - layers of moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and cherry liqueur! Completely homemade!

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  1. Sharlene

    Hi, Lindsay. I’m planning on making this cake fir a friend’s birthday, but it’s hard to find cherries 🍒. Can I replace fresh cherries for frozen cherries if i get stuck not finding them?

  2. Stacie Parmiter

    This sounds delicious and I plan on making for Thanksgiving, since I already have the cakes in my freezer! What brand of cherry liqueur do you use? I’ve read that Kirschwasser and Cherry Liqueur are not interchangeable; as one is sweet and one isn’t. Maybe it doesn’t matter which one is used, but I want to make it as described 🙂

    1. Lindsay

      I used Kirschwasser, which is traditionally what is used. You could use cherry liqueur. It may be a little sweeter, but it’d be fine.

  3. Jamie

    I love all of your cake recipes!! Do you think the cherry mixture will be okay to make ahead of time and keep in the fridge to make the cake the next day?

  4. Lana

    This cake looks absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to try it out. My husband isn’t much of a cake eater but a black forest cake is what he has requested for this birthday, so going to give your recipe a try 🙂
    I wondered if it can be made up in full the day before and just left in the fridge until the next day for eating?

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, definitely. I often make my cakes the day before. Just be sure to include the powdered sugar and the whipped cream so that it doesn’t wilt.

  5. Courtney Riedel

    Don’t use a wide mouthed bottle if you drip the icing because I failed at mine lol. However it looks yummy. I made this recipe last year and it was so moist.

  6. h

    Hi, this looks wonderful and I’d like to make it for my husband’s birthday but cherries are out of season right now. My grocery store has canned pitted red tart cherries in water. Would these be OK to use?

    1. Lindsay

      I have never tried those canned tart cherries before. I would actually recommend frozen cherries and then thaw them out.

  7. Sophie

    My batter is very liquid, is it normal?
    And once cooked, they are about 3/4 of an inch each.
    I haven’t done the final steps (whipped cream) yet, waiting for the cakes to cool off.

  8. Sydney

    Hi Lindsay, I wondered if you had any tips for getting that smooth finish when frosting with whipped cream? I was afraid to use the paper towel/fondant smoother trick because the whipped frosting doesn’t really crust and might stick to the towel. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for sharing such great recipes!

  9. Priya

    Hey I wanted to make this cake for Mother’s day and just wanted to know if it can be made in a different size pan? Perhaps a 9 by 13 inch?

  10. Kanika

    Fabulous recipe. I made this to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary yesterday. Loving each and every bite of it.

  11. Annie Miller

    Hi… I made this cake today for my husband’s birthday. Thank you for the near perfect recipe. The cake turned out moist and delicious 😋.
    So I had two doubts and thought it might be useful feedback. One was the temperature of the milk. Cold or Room temp ? I used Room temperature milk. And hot water ? How hot ?
    Thanks anyway and I look forward to trying more of your recipes.

  12. Sandra

    Hi! I loved a vanilla cake recipe from your website so am very confident in how delicious this came will be! I don’t have cake pans so will be using my loaf tin. I know a 1/3rd of the ingredients will fill my loaf tin, but I’m wondering how you would assemble this as a loaf cake? 

  13. Shakthi

    I just have one 9” pan. Shall I bake it once and then slice it into layers? ( Is it ok if I do this for any recipe which says to use 3 separate pans?)
    I have make a huge cake of 40 serves/4kgs. So I assume doubling the recipe would suffice. 

    1. Lindsay

      No, you do not want to make it all in one pan. It’ll be far too much cake batter and will take a long time to bake and end up over cooking your cake and cooking it unevenly. If you only have one pan, and I would suggest baking one layer at a time.

  14. Olwyn Fleury

    Just making this gorgeous cake for my dads birthday tomorrow. Used frozen cherries which are gorgeous but I forgot to quarter them. The sauce looks thick and lots for the layers. Will it matter that the cherries aren’t quartered? All I can do at this point is put them into a food processor if I needed to. 

  15. Julie

    Wow, this cake looks great!
    I surely want to try doing it your way – even if the traditional way has been my favourite for almost since I can remember.
    As a real “Schwarzwälder” (coming from the northern par of the Black Forest) there is only one piece for me that I don´t like about the traditional cake – those jelly-like fake-cherries a lot of bakerys put on top 🙂

    Greetings from Germany, Julie

  16. John Quinn

    Hi Lindsay, I only have three 9 inch pans will your recipe work with them the cake is gorgeous would love to try and make one. Thank you in advance.

      1. John Quinn

        Thanks Lindsay for getting back to me with your answer I’m looking forward to trying this cake for an upcoming special occasion.

  17. Jaikey Joppan

    I made this yesterday and came out superbly.. Thank you ma’am for sharing this recipe. Merry Christmas ma’am..

  18. Victoria

    hi Lindsay and thank you for your amazing work! those cakes are DELICIOUS, but in my case, they were domed as hell. I will try once again today and hope to avoid domes, do you happen to have any advice?

    1. Olwyn Fleury

      Hi Victoria! 
      I always use baking strips which you soak and wrap around your pans like a belt. Layers cook even in colour and no doming at all! 
      Works like a charm. 

    1. Lindsay

      I use Hershey’s brand cocoa powder. As for keeping the cake moist, I don’t do anything to it, it’s just a very moist cake.

    1. Lindsay

      Milk is kind of a difficult one to substitute. Is there a particular reason you were looking to substitute it? If you are looking for something dairy free, there are lots of dairy free milk options available.

  19. Shivani

    Thank you for this recipe! I am super excited to try making this recipe this weekend for a friend’s birthday. I had few questions for you-

    1. I am a little worried about using 2 cups of powdered sugar to make whipped cream, will that mean the whipped cream would be on a more sweeter side?
    2. Could I swap whipped cream filling with stabilized mascarpone recipe of yours for this cake? Will that affect the taste? 
    3. What cherry liqueur do you recommend?

    1. Lindsay

      1. I personally don’t think it’s too sweet at all. But that’s kind of subjective.
      2. Yes, you can but you do taste the mascarpone. It might be good with the cake, if you’re looking for that flavor.
      3. I can’t remember the brand I used. I’m sure any would be fine.

  20. Donevin

    Hello, I hope all you bakers are doing well :))))) I need URGENT help please 😛 I need to bake a Dark Forest cake as the one mentioned above. My only concern though is that i only have cake pans with separable bottoms. I have baked with recipes before where the cake mixtures are extremely runny and runs through. Is this recipe thick/safe enough to bake with in my pans. 

    PS: Any advice for things to look out for when making this cake? Maybe something that will make it more moist 😛 cause i always seem to have the problem with cakes that aren’t moist enough… or it might just be me LOL

    Kind Regards, 

    1. Lindsay

      This cake is super moist on its own. It should be fine in that regard. However, the batter is very thin and if your springform pans leak, the batter will leak out.

      1. Donevin Kelly

        Thank you for the response Lindsay, my pans aren’t springform pans, they are Round pans with bottoms that slide out 🙈 do you have a Dark forest recipe that is moist and a thicker consistency at the same time? ☺️😊

  21. Stephany

    Hi Lindsay!

    I’m making this cake as a two tier cake- the second tier is going to be smaller than the 8inch base. Can I cut this recipe in half to accommodate the smaller cake?

    1. Lindsay

      Cutting it in half would be fine, I’m just not sure what size cake pans would be best because I haven’t tried a smaller version.

  22. Rita

    Lindsey, I made your black forest cake for a friend for her birthday. After tasting it, she declared that she will no longer be able to eat any store-bought black forest cake and that your cake is what she wants me to bake for her future birthdays. It was so moist and delicious. I loved it too, and I am not usually a fan of chocolate cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  23. Michelle B

    This cake is fabulous. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a whipped cream frosting that I actually liked. The cake is moist and wonderful. The filling is sooo good!

    I couldn’t find the kirsch, so I used black cherry vodka. It worked wonderfully. I skipped the ganache, I love ganache but I just felt the cake didn’t need it. I had to use frozen dark cherries because I couldn’t seem to catch the fresh ones in stock. Even though I didn’t have everything exactly the same, the recipe is a keeper and I will make it any time I have craving for black forest cake.

    Thanks so much for sharing it.

  24. Beth D.

    Hi, there! I can’t seem to find fresh cherries anywhere right now. Out of season 🙁

    I know that I could use frozen cherries for the filling, but now I’m not sure what to garnish the top of the cake with since I don’t have any lovely fresh cherries to use. Would maraschino cherries be too odd? Perhaps a bit too brightly colored for sure. I’m just not sure what to do.

  25. Suzan

    Quick question, is it supposed to a very moist cake? Just baked it and it is super moist. Will it be able to hold the layers?

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, this is a fairly moist cake. The whipped cream frosting is very stable, just make sure you use the full amount of powder sugar because that gives it the stability.

    1. Coryl

      Similar question to yours! How would I cut the recipe to make a dozen cupcakes? 3 cake pans is a lot, so I’m guessing do 1/3 of the recipe?

      1. Lindsay

        You’d want to cut the recipe in half. It might give you a couple more than 12, but that’d be best.

  26. Cassandra Pantano

    I have two questions. First if I made the cakes one night, the other components and assembled the next night and served the following day, do you believe the cake would be okay? Also any recommendations on storage?

    Secondly, it is not cherry season right now. Any suggestions if I should use frozen, maraschino or pie filling?

    Thanks for the help!

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, assembly over a couple days like that should be fine. I’d store in an airtight container in the fridge.

      I’d probably go with frozen cherries. Maraschino will have a different flavor and pie filling will as well.

  27. Cindy

    Hi Lindsay!
    It is no longer cherry season here, is it alright to use canned cherries? They are soaking in cherry juice, not a heavy syrup. Thanks

    1. Lindsay

      I would imagine it’d be fine, but you might need to make adjustments. I just haven’t used canned cherries before so it’s a little hard to say. I’m not sure if’d release as much juice as fresh cherries.

  28. Victoria

    OMGGGGG… I’d always wanted to make this incredible cake recipe, however I have never had the courage to do it. But, when I got in the life, love and sugar web page, I decided to bake the black forest cake for my very own birthday this september 24th. Nevertheless, since I live in Venezuela and cherries are so exṕensive and hard to find, I replaced them for strawberries and it turned out awesome, too! Thank you so much for explaining step by step the recipe, you made it really easy to understand… Love your cake pics!!!

  29. Amanda Lysohirka

    Hit there, very nice recipe. I made the cake portion, but, it I am worried the whipping cream with either deflate or the cake will soak it all up by the time we eat the cake Tomorrow. How long will the whipping cream last? 

    1. Lindsay

      The whipped cream will last for days without wilting, just be sure to use the full amount of powdered sugar listed in the recipe. It’s what stabilizes it.

  30. Chantale

    Hi, just curious if this particular whipped cream recipe is thicker, sturdier and more stable than most other recipes? 

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, the whipped cream is very stable. Make sure you use the full amount of powder sugar because that gives it the stability.

    1. Lindsay

      It’s in the first step. It was listed as water (since the ingredients list to use liqueur or water), but I’ve updated the instructions to make that more clear. Thanks!

  31. Kimberly Underwood

    I made this cake over the weekend and my family LOVED it! I’ve also made several others on your site and they always turn out great and I ALWAYS get loads of compliments. Thanks for posting!

  32. Kory

    I made this today for my mother in law’s birthday and OHHHH MAN IRS SO GOOD!! I used water instead of liquor because I didn’t hsve time to go find some.  But it’s incredibke just like that., Thank you for this! 

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, it is. The cherries release quite a bit of juice, so with that, the liqueur and the melted sugar, the cornstarch helps thicken it.

  33. Erajkhan

    This recipe is super amazing lindsay…i’ll definitely gonna bake this decadent black forest cake on my sis borthday party…
    Thankxx…for sharing your another amazin’ gorgeous cake recipe…

  34. Esstee

    First and foremost…I needed to read that scripture! Thank you!
    Also, thanks for this simple recipe. The other recipes always look like so much work! I already use the chocolate cake recipe and can do it in my sleep. My only problem is that I live in Barbados and cherries are either extremely expensive or unavailable. I usually use the frozen ones to make cheesecake topping. Any advice on using the frozen ones?

    Stay blessed!!

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you liked the scripture!

      The frozen ones should be fine in the filling. The only thing you might need to adjust for is the amount of moisture they have. I’d thaw them to get rid of excess water, but then when you cook them over the stove, they may not release as many juices which could give you a thicker sauce and a little less sauce, so you might need to adjust that a bit. I hope you enjoy it!

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29