By Jason Shriner, The Aubergine Chef
When I was growing up I used to hate cherries. Aside from missing out on a fantastic seasonal fruit I later realized I didn’t actually hate cherries, I hated cherry flavoring. To me, cherry-flavored medicine and candies were the same as cherry even though I knew that grape candies and medicine didn’t taste like the fruit. Even now, I have yet to really indulge in cherries.
While there are several different varieties of cherries, many bakers regard tart or sour cherries as the better option as they give a deeper and more complex flavor to your baked goods. Unfortunately, sour cherries are harder to find in the United States unless you live in Michigan or an area that grows sour cherries. One of my life goals is to be able to compare their flavor profiles side-by-side and be able to bake with them. If you see sour cherries in your supermarket or farmer’s market make sure to get some for me!
To celebrate this season’s cherry haul try my Black Forest Cake recipe. The basic requirements for this recipe are a kirshwasser (or cherry liqueur) simple syrup, chocolate cake, cherry filling, and whipped cream icing. My version uses cherries on top so you can really indulge in cherries. If you have any leftover cherry filling, try it as a filling for cupcakes, puff pastry tarts, a topping for ice cream, or in cocktails.
Those who are more passionate about Black Forest Cakes specify a particular style of chocolate cake, that the whipped cream be prepared a specific way and allowed to rest, and I’ve even been told that traditionalists prefer canned cherries over fresh. As far as I’m concerned if you’ve got cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream you have a winning combination.
Jason Shriner owns the baking & pastry blog The Aubergine Chef, which contains free videos and recipes. He also teaches baking classes at the Manassas Park Community Center. You can visit his blog at www.TheAubergineChef.com.
Black Forest Cake
Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake
Makes two 9 inch cakes
2 cups All-purpose Flour
½ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
5 ounces Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
1 ½ cups Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 Egg Yolks
9 ½ ounces room temperature water
3 Egg Whites (separated very cleanly)
1. Prepare cake pans using pan spray and parchment paper.
2. Place egg whites in electric mixer’s bowl with granulated sugar. Whip eggs until they reach medium peaks. Remove from mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a regular bowl.
4. Combine water with vanilla extract.
5. In the mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until fluffy.
6. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating on medium speed for 1 minute after each.
7. Add dry ingredients and liquid ingredients alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition till just combined.
8. After all ingredients are added, beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
9. Fold egg white meringue into batter; combine well.
10. Turn batter into prepared pans about 75% full. Spread batter evenly .
11. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 40 to 65 minutes or till cake tests done.
12. Cool 15-20 minutes on wire racks. Remove from pans; cool thoroughly on racks.
Makes 1 lb 4 ounces of filling
10 ounces fresh cherries, pitted and halved
5 ounces unsweetened cherry juice
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1. Combine all but two tablespoons of the cherry juice and the granulated sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add half the cherries, cover the pot, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove the cover then bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile whisk together the remaining granulated sugar and the cornstarch, then whisk in the remaining cherry juice.
3. Add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling cherry mixture and bring to a gentle boil on medium to medium high heat. Cook for 1-3 minutes while whisking continuously.
4. Remove from heat and fold in the remaining cherries. Allow to cool completely.
Chantilly Cream (Whipped Cream Icing)
Makes 1 lb 9 ½ ounces of whipped cream
3 cups heavy cream
4 ½ tablespoons powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Combine all ingredients together in an electric mixer bowl and with the whip attachment, whip until the icing reaches medium-soft peaks. Be careful not to overwhip.
Kirshwasser Simple Syrup
¼ cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
up to 1/3 cup kirshwasser
1. Combine the sugar and water in a pot and stir well. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
2. Add kirshwasser to the syrup and allow the syrup to cool before using. Use less kirshwasser for a less intense flavor.
Assembly of Black Forest Cake
2 layers of devil’s food chocolate cake
1 lb 4 ounces cherry filling
6 ounces kirshwasser simple syrup
1 lb 9 ½ ounces chantilly cream
About 6 ounces shaved chocolate, optional
Glue the cake to the 9” cake cardboard with a dab of chantilly cream. Lightly soak with the simple syrup. Pipe a ring of chantilly cream along the edge of the layer. Pipe a spiral of chantilly then fill the space between the spiral with the cherry filling. This spiral helps hold the loose filling in place. Use a piping bag to help you control the filling.
Place the remaining cake layer on top and soak with simple syrup. Ice the cake with the chantilly cream.
Lift up the cake and apply the shaved chocolate pieces along the sides of the cake. Place the cake on a presentation cake board (gold board).
Pipe a shell border with the chantilly cream and fill with the cherry filling taking care not to smear the chantilly cream.
Serve immediately or store refrigerated for up to 5 days.