Black Forest Cake Recipe

Pairing three layers of dark chocolate cake, a boozy cherry compote filling, velvety vanilla buttercream and a rich chocolate ganache drip, this cake strikes the perfect balance between rich and sweet.

  • Author: Claire | The Simple, Sweet Life
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 16 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Units Scale

For the chocolate cake:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz baking cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

For the brandy cherry compote:

  • 1/2 lb cherries + extra for garnishing
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp brandy

For the vanilla frosting:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the ganache drip:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and dark chocolate for the cake. Stir until the chocolate is melted and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the eggs and sugar until light and frothy (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add the vegetable oil and continue whipping until completely incorporated.
  4. Add the milk, and water/chocolate mixture, and whisk until just combined.
  5. Gently whisk in the baking cocoa, flour, baking soda, and baking powder until the batter is lump free.
  6. Divide the cake batter evenly between three 6″ cake pans, and bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out mostly clean.
  7. Once the pans are cool enough to handle, transfer the cakes to plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool and firm.
  8. Pit and halve the cherries.
  9. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar and brandy for the compote.
  10. Bring to a boil.
  11. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the juice is thick and syrupy.
  12. To make the frosting, stir together the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  13. Boil until completely clear.
  14. While the syrup boils, whip the egg whites in a stand mixer until stiff.
  15. With the mixer on high, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl.
  16. Whip until the mixture and bowl cool to room temperature.
  17. With the mixer on low, add pieces of butter until all the butter has been added.
  18. Add the vanilla extract. Increase the speed to high and whip until a smooth frosting forms.
  19. Heat the heavy cream for the ganache until hot.
  20. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  21. Once the cakes are cool, level the tops if necessary.
  22. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the first layer of cake and pipe a ring around the edge.
  23. Fill with half of the cherry compote.
  24. Top with the second layer of cake and repeat.
  25. Spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake.
  26. Spread over the top of the cake and allow to drip down the sides.
  27. Pipe swirls of frosting onto the cake and garnish with fresh cherries.


  • Getting even cake layers: I’ve found the best way to get even layers of cake is to weigh your batter when dividing it. For this recipe, you’ll need about 15oz of batter per 6″ round cake pan.
  • Working ahead: The cake layers can be made, wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. They can even be frosted frozen, but you won’t want to level or divide them while frozen.
  • Chill your cake: A cool cake is easier to cut and handle, so chilling your cake for a short while before frosting it will help make the cake decorating process easier.
  • Fixing a “broken” meringue-based buttercream: Sometimes you’ll find that your buttercream looks “broken” or curdled. There are usually two culprits: Either it hasn’t been beaten long enough or the frosting is too warm (either from the butter being too warm or being added to the meringue too early). If continue to beat it doesn’t work, try putting it in the refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool, then continue beating.
  • Air bubble-free frosting: If your frosting has a lot of air bubbles in it, beat it on the lowest speed for 3-5 minutes to work them out.
  • Storage: This cake will keep in the refrigerator, uncut, for 2-3 days.
  • Storing a cut cake: Once your cake is cut, you’ll want to protect the exposed part. The easiest way to do this is to place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the exposed cake.
  • Serving cake: Temperature affects food and cold foods tend taste less sweet and flavorful. I recommend serving this cake at room temperature.

Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Miette


Keywords: black forest cake, black forest layer cake, how to make black forest cake