Black Forest Cake is a classic! This cake has alternating layers of chocolate cake and juicy cherry filling, and chocolate “twigs” complete the black forest look!

Black Forest Cake - the classic chocolate-cherry cake! Chocolate cake, cherry filling, and chocolate twigs! | From

Okay! So it’s the second week of January, is it safe to post about cake yet? I mean, healthy eating is great, go team vegetables, woohoo kale, yadda yadda, but we’ve all got birthdays, right? We all have special occasions and cake-worthy celebrations sometimes? We all need a hit of the sweet stuff now and then, even in the midst of the healthiest eatingest month in all of the calendar, correct? Eeeeeexcellent. *Mr Burns fingers*

Let us proceed.

Black Forest Cake - the classic chocolate-cherry cake with chocolate twigs! | From

This cake got its start, like so many of my cakes do, in the aisles of a store…in this case, Cost Plus World Market. While I was looking through their Christmas candy last month, I found some gorgeous glossy dark chocolate twigs from Grand Belgian Chocolate, and I knew they needed—no, they were DESTINED—to be on a cake. The twigs are about 8” long and so very, very pretty. They’re shiny, with little nubs of irregularly placed chocolate all along the length of them so that they really do look like bumpy twigs.

Black Forest Cake - the classic chocolate-cherry cake with chocolate twigs! | From

Being a very obvious person, I immediately made the leap and knew what I should make. Twigs –> trees –> forest –> black forest cake! There you have it, people. The cunning workings of a mind like a steel trap.

Black Forest Cake - the classic chocolate-cherry cake with chocolate twigs! | From

Here’s the bad news: I looked for these twigs again at Cost Plus about a week ago, and I couldn’t find them. I also can’t find them on Amazon (the horror!) or for purchase anywhere online. Fortunately, I think Chocolate Pocky would be a good substitute, and it’s pretty easy to find in many large supermarkets. Another fun forest-related decoration would be decorating the cake like a tree stump (like with my Wild Things cake!) but honestly, there’s no law that says Black Forest cake has to be so on-the-nose. You can just finish it with chocolate buttercream and it will still be amazing.

Black Forest Cake - the classic chocolate-cherry cake with chocolate twigs! | From

Window dressing aside, this cake is really all about the FLAVOR. Chocolate and cherries are a natural match, which is why I think black forest cakes have been so popular for so long. I’ve seen a lot of different versions of black forest cake. Some involve whipped cream, some involve almond flavor (which I personally looooove) but for this version, I decided to keep it simple: just chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and cherry goodness.

Black Forest Cake - the classic chocolate-cherry cake with chocolate twigs! | From

For the cherries, fresh is obviously tops. Fresh is also obviously not so great in the winter months. So if you’re reading this when cherries are in season, get pittin’ and use fresh cherries! Since I didn’t want to spend 1 bajillion dollars on sour, out-of-season cherries, I decided to use canned Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s in my filling instead. The Morello cherries are great because—wait for it—they actually taste like cherries! They’re not too sweet and have a good, authentic flavor. If you have other canned or jarred cherries you like, feel free to swap those in. Defrosted frozen cherries are also an option. I personally hate most canned cherry pie filling (sooooo sweet!) but if that’s your jam, you can use that as well.

You’ll notice that I garnished the cake with a maraschino cherry, but didn’t put them in the filling. That’s because maraschino cherries look amazing and taste like pure sugar. So use them for decorations, yes, but please don’t rely on them for fresh cherry flavor!

Black Forest Cake - the classic chocolate-cherry cake with chocolate twigs! | From

I also used just a little bit of cherry preserves along with the Morello cherries. I wanted a little more cherry “goop” in the filling, aside from just cherry chunks, but if you like that chunky lifestyle, you can omit the preserves. After a few days, they mostly soaked into the cake layers, producing the world’s most perfect moist, cherry-infused chocolate cake (swoon). At the end of the day, the twigs made this cake cute, but the flavors are what make it memorable. It’s a classic for a reason! Enjoy!

Black Forest Cake | From

Black Forest Cake

5 from 6 votes
Black Forest Cake is a classic dessert for a reason! This delicious cake has alternating layers of chocolate cake and juicy cherry filling, and chocolate “twigs” complete the black forest look.
Prep2 hours
Cook20 minutes
Total2 hours 20 minutes


For the chocolate cake:

For the frosting:

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 fl oz pasteurized liquid egg whites
  • 12 oz powdered sugar (3 cups)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the filling and decoration:

  • 2 cups cherries chopped, I used jarred Morello cherries
  • ½ cup cherry preserves optional
  • 12 oz chocolate twigs optional
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder


To make the cake:

  • Line four 8-inch cake pans with parchment and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Add the butter and both sugars to the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat them together on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, and beat well until everything is fully incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low, add a quarter of the sifted flour mixture. When the flour streaks have almost all disappeared, add a third of the buttermilk to the mixing bowl. When that’s incorporated, continue to add the drys and wets in an alternating pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.
  • When the dry ingredients are nearly incorporated, stop the mixer. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and finish mixing the cake by hand. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and smooth it into an even layer. Bake the cakes for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the cakes completely before using.

To make the frosting:

  • Chop the unsweetened chocolate, and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Once the chocolate is melted, let it cool until it is completely room temperature. While it cools, prepare the rest of the frosting.
  • Combine the whites, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix everything together on low speed, until the sugar is moistened and no dry patches remain. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, then turn the mixer to medium speed. Beat on medium for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, turn the mixer to medium-low and start adding the softened room temperature butter, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Once all of the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla extract and mix it in. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides once more. Turn the speed to medium and beat the buttercream for 10 minutes. Finally, add the melted and cooled chocolate. Mix on low speed until the chocolate is completely incorporated.

To assemble:

  • To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake cardboard, and put it on a cake turntable, if you have one. Place some of the chocolate buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a coupler or large round tip. Pipe a circle around the outside edge of the cake layer, and spread a very thin layer of chocolate frosting inside the piped circle of frosting.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the chopped cherries and cherry preserves, if using. Spread a third of this mixture inside the piped circle of frosting, and top with a second cake layer. Repeat the frosting, cherry, and cake process until you have added all 4 cake layers. 
  • Spread a very thin layer of chocolate frosting all over the top and sides of the cake—this is the “crumb coat,” to lock in any stray crumbs from the cake. Refrigerate the cake briefly, for about 30 minutes, so the crumb coat can firm up.
  • Spread a thicker layer of frosting along the top and sides of the cake. Take a metal offset spatula, and holding it flat against the outside edge of the cake, start turning the turntable. Hold the spatula against the frosting, and as the cake goes around, gradually start moving the spatula inward, creating a spiral design in the frosting. 
  • If you’re using the chocolate twigs, press them against the sides of the cake, firmly embedding them in the frosting. Finally, dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder. It will darken as it sits and absorbs moisture from the buttercream, and will match the color of the dark chocolate twigs. Top the cake with a maraschino cherry, if desired.

Measuring Tips

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Want to learn more about baking measurements and conversion?


Calories: 510kcal
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  1. Hands down, this has got to be the most cleverly designed Black Forest Cake that I have ever seen. Having spent much of my younger adult life around an EXCELLENT GERMAN LADY THAT WAS ALSO AN EXCELLENT GERMAN COOK WITH AUTHENTIC RECIPES, I learned a lot about German cooking as well as their “SECRETS” to make a recipe BETTER which was usually a wine, liqueur, cordial, or SOME TYPE OF ALCOHOL which ALSO taught me that the cook had to sample (several times) the alcohol you would cook with to make sure it was SUPERB ENOUGH to use in the recipe (LOL!! and I fell for it!!). She was once rushed to get a black forest cake ready for a church function and decided to do it PUNCH BOWL STYLE which was a popular way to make cakes for large gatherings of family/friends. Layer crumbled Devils food cake in the bottom, followed by a rich chocolate pudding, then cherries (sometimes in a hurry she used the cherry pie filling but usually made her own homemade cherry filling), then whipped cream and then start the layering process over again until the punch bowl or LARGE DEEP FLUTED BOWL was full. Topping was usually the final bit of Devils food cake, then the layer of pudding, layer of cherries, layer of whipped topping with a light chocolate drizzle (that contrasted well with the white whipped cream, some real cherries when she could find them but usually the Marichino cherries with stems were used) and then she took dark chocolate and shaved some pieces to use as the final adornment for the cake. Using the punch bowl method saved lots of time, was BEAUTIFUL as you could see thru the side of the glass bowl to see the different layers, colors of ingredients etc., Make it the day before so all the flavors could MELD together and there was NEVER any leftovers to take home. Now for your BEAUTIFUL CAKE with the Dark Chocolate twigs (I ADORE THIS FEATURE!!), I’m wondering if you don’t have time to order or even find the twigs, could you take thin pretzel rods and dip them in the chocolate almond bark to use instead? I love the effect the Chocolate twigs give a FOREST LOOK so those of us not near a big city or have access to order the specialty gourmet items need a more simplified, cheaper way to make this. I live in the deep backwoods of southern Alabama so finding lots of the ingredients needed for many recipes is IMPOSSIBLE so you either forget the recipe or IMPROVISE. I will be making the PUNCH BOWL BLACK FOREST CAKE for a Thanksgiving Gathering of close friends this week. I LOVE YOUR RECIPES, even tho sometimes above my skill level or the level of expected food for the southern backwood cuisine, I can ONLY IMAGINE the flavorful, delicious tastes they have that would (as we say in the backwoods) “MAKE YOUR TONGUE SLAP YOUR BRAIN SILLY”. HAVE A SAFE, BLESSED, HAPPY THANKSGIVING & THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO FOR US STRIVING COOKS!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! You can totally dip the pretzels in chocolate to make the twigs is a great idea! I’d love to see how to goes if you give it a try! Thank you!

  2. I am making this cake for sure! One question..there is no baking powder listed for the cake mix..only baking soda is used? Looking forward to making this cake! YUM!