One of my favorite desserts is Black Forest Cake! This chocolate & cherry cake is known as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its native Germany. Schwarzwälder, meaning “Black Forest”, describes the region of Germany where this dessert originated. The Black Forest was named by the Romans who referred to it as such because the forests were so dense that they blocked out most of the sunlight, making them very dark. The Black Forest region is in the southwestern corner of the country in the state of Baden-Württemberg. I’ve marked the forests on the map below with red stars. The Kirschtorte half of the name comes from the traditional inclusion of an alcoholic liquid called Kirsch, made from distilled cherries. A torte is a cake. When you put it all together you get Black Forest cherry liquor cake, and in fact, in Germany you can’t market the cake AS a Black Forest Cake withOUT the liquor. Our recipe contains no Kirsch and is completely non-alcoholic, but feel free to add it if you’d like. This Americanized version still contains the chocolate cake, cherries and whipped cream that make it so delicious!
I know that a lot of parents read my blog and can be very busy or sometimes have restrictive schedules; because of this we made our recipe with a boxed chocolate cake mix. If you have ample time and wish to make your cake batter from scratch, we recommend Martha Stewart’s basic chocolate cake recipe. More time saving measures would be to skip the fresh cherry preparation and the homemade whipped cream frosting and to instead use canned red tart pie cherries (1 & 1/4 standard size cans should do) and/or pre-made whipped cream. However, for best results you should always use fresh ingredients and start from scratch!
- 1 boxed chocolate cake mix – prepared to bake or one recipe homemade chocolate cake ready to bake
- 2 Cups fresh cherries or 1 & 1/4 cans cherry pie cherries
- 1/4 Cup granulated sugar (if using fresh cherries)
- 2 pints heavy whipping cream or pre-made whipped cream
- 2/3 Cup confectioner’s sugar (if making your own whipped cream)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
You Will Also Need…
- non-stick baking spray or baking cups (paper or silicone will do)
- cupcake/muffin pan
- melon baller
- pastry bag with your choice of tip
- hand mixer (whisk beaters are a plus)
- glass mixing bowl
If you are using fresh cherries, pit and half fruits the night before you prepare the cupcakes. Sprinkle 1/4C granulated sugar over 2C of cut cherries and mix to disperse evenly. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight. This process is known as maceration and is intended to soften or break down the fresh fruit while drawing out the juices at the same time.
Prepare chocolate cake batter as instructed based on which type you chose to bake; box mix will have instructions and ingredients list on the packaging. Once batter is ready to bake, either spray the cupcake pan with non-stick spray or line it with baking cups. I personally find the cups easier to clean up after as the spray can tend to bake onto the pan. Fill the cups evenly 3/4 of the way and bake at temperature and for time suggested in respective instructions.
When finished baking, remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool. While cakes are cooling, place macerated cherries in a medium saucepan along with the extracted juices (and Kirsch if you are using it) and sauté until fruit is soft like pie filling. If you are not using fresh cherries, this would be the right time to open your cans of cherries. Right now you should place your mixer beaters and your glass bowl in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes to get it nice and cold before you start your whipped cream frosting. If you are using store bought whipped cream then skip this and go on to the next step.
When cupcakes are cool enough to handle, remove part of the top center of each cake, leaving a cavity into which you will put the cherries. I have seen many people do this using a small cylindrical cookie cutter; however, we have found that the quickest and most efficient way to remove this part of the cupcake is to use a melon baller. We save & freeze or snack on the removed parts of the cake because it’s a shame to waste good chocolate!
After you have made space in each cake for the cherries, spoon the fruits into each opening until the top is level and ready to be frosted.
Remove the chilled beaters and the glass bowl from the freezer. Place heavy cream, vanilla and 1/3 of confectioner’s sugar into chilled bowl and whip with mixer set on high. Once combined, slowly add the rest of the sugar until soft peaks begin to form.
When you are satisfied with the consistency of your frosting, spoon mixture into pastry bag and pipe desired amount onto each cupcake. Decorate however you wish, I use a little shaved chocolate.
As I was clearing off the DVR and catching up on old episodes of The Martha Stewart Show, I spotted an episode description that said “Jelly Mongers”. I’ve been in a canning mood this summer, so I figured this would be something informative for me to watch. Well, it turns out that it WAS very informative, but it also turned out to NOT be about canned jelly. Of course the “jelly” referred to was Jell-O basically. I know from my studies of historic culinaria (and endlessly watching British movies and TV shows) that at one time (as far back as the Victorian era) Jell-O was VERY popular across the pond. Even here in the U.S. gelatin had its time in the sun, but I think that ended at about the time that I was born (late 70′s) and the Technicolor jigglers are now pretty much the domain of toddlers and drunken college girls. I remember my father being the king of fancy Jell-O when I was small. He would float all manner of chopped fruits in the green and orange goo. He had this Tupperware mold in the shape of a ribbed bowl that had interchangeable disks at the bottom. Once the gel had set and the mold was inverted, you would have any number of holiday related symbols set into the top of your mound. It was really rather neat, but I have no idea what happened to that bowl. I use decorative copper molds that cost me between 50 cents to $1 each at thrift stores.
On the Martha episode they made even fancier combinations than anything my father tried. The two Jelly Mongers, Harry Parr & Sam Bompas, even create their own molds. Even though the guys weren’t as friendly to Martha as I would have liked, I still loved their work and wanted to try one for myself. Of the two recipes they shared on the show, I chose to make the Champagne & Summer Fruit Wedding Jelly over the Raspberry & Crème Ribband Jelly. You can watch the segment about these here. If you like the idea of making some really creative jelly molds as much as I do, you can check out their book, Jelly Mongers: Glow-in-the-Dark Jelly, Titanic Jelly, Flaming Jelly. I see a million cool books around the web, but I think I might actually have to add this one to my Christmas List!
For our experiment we used very cheap champagne; I think the bottle cost $5.99. I wasn’t about to waste the good stuff if this happened to not work out for the best! We were also unable to locate the gelatin sheets that they used on the show. I used 2 packages of unflavored gel powder per 2 cups of liquid. The only fruits we had on hand at the time were raspberries and blueberries, so we used a lot of those to compensate for not having any strawberries. We don’t have a dome mold like the one used, so I used one of my ring molds.
On a message board the other day I read about someone having made Wild Violet Jelly with violets that were growing in their front yard. I’ve wanted to try canning and making my own preserves for some time now, and the idea of using something I had growing wild intrigued me. I’m always weary of trying a new recipe if it is going to cost me a small fortune, just in case things don’t turn out well, so this seemed like a great one to test because it didn’t have a lot of expensive ingredients. It happened to be pouring down rain the day that I decided to make it, so I only managed to gather 2 packed cups of flowers instead of the four that the recipe I initially saw called for. It took me a few minutes to find a recipe that made a smaller batch and required fewer flowers. I found THIS recipe from Prairieland Herbs that sounded like it would work out nicely.
After gathering together all of the supplies that we would need, we started following the recipe. I was surprised at the deep teal-blue color that resulted from steeping the violets! I was expecting something a lot more on the purple side than what I got, which had a lot of green overtones. When you get to the lemon juice stage, hold on to your hats folks! The violet water turns a bright fuchsia color as a result of the acids in the lemon mixing together with whatever is in the violets! It was pretty neat to watch. This bright pink will be the color of your final product! The recipe called for clear lemon juice, which we didn’t have. All we had was the cloudy type, so we used that instead and hoped for the best. In the end our jelly was clear, so I really don’t think it matters which type you use.
The violet jelly looked great and tasted very good. It has a light, sweet taste with a slight peppery hint to it, much like Choward’s Violet gum/candies. Since this was such a success, we decided to try our hand at something a little more traditional, Strawberry Jam. Only, we didn’t want to make just ANY strawberry jam, we wanted to make traditional English Strawberry Conserve. The Brits are sort of known for their strawberries and we love all things British, so we figured we would give it a try. I searched for a whole day; I must have seen hundreds of recipes, but I finally found the perfect one HERE at BBC GoodFood. What caught my eye was the butter, something none of the others had. I figured it had to be good!
I was right! This is the best strawberry jam I’ve ever had! We only ended up with 4 jars; I wish I would have made more. We plan to go strawberry picking this summer in New York, so maybe we will make some more then. I know my father wants to make some raspberry-currant jam over the holiday as well.
We used the small Kerr jars to store the preserves using the traditional boiling method to seal and sterilize the jars. I used round paper label and a free downloadable PDF of beautiful vintage style labels in various colors by Cath Holden of Just Something I Made. I think the beautiful labels add the perfect finishing touch! We’ve given away a few jars to friends; I am even shipping one all the way to New Hampshire! I really hope that everyone enjoys their jelly! We had so much fun making these delicious conserves that we plan to try out many more recipes this summer and we would like to make some more violet Jelly very soon before they are all gone from the backyard!
Last week we wanted to make an old style Harvey Wallbanger cake recipe that my dad got from a friend of his back in the 50’s or 60’s. We were missing the Galliano, so we decided to improvise a little, switch it up and invent our OWN cake. Loving Husband came up with a great recipe featuring one of his favorite drinks: Long Island iced tea! I don’t personally care for them on their own, but when mixed into a sweet cake, it eliminates the sharp undertones and they really taste great! This would be the perfect dessert for a BBQ or a picnic. Many of the cakes in my mid-century era recipe books are drenched in spirits. Apparently during that time they were a common thing to have at cocktail parties and other adult get togethers. This cake is fun and delicious and isn’t as messy of a cake as the traditional frosted variety. We substituted strawberry vodka for plain vodka and the Long Island mix for the Galliano Wine. We didn’t end up adding the finely chopped strawberries into it, but if you would like to, I think that would be a really tasty mix in!
It was so good that I thought it called for its own recipe card! I made this one shown below myself with an image out of a VERY old cookbook-pamphlet that I’ve had for a long time. If you like the card, you can download the blank version of it here for free and print as many as you’d like for yourself! I left it as a single card so that you can multiply it or adjust the size more easily if you would like. If you try the recipe out, I hope you liked the cake as much as we did! Please let me know, I’d love to hear what you thought!
Loving Husband and I LOVE Smitten Kitchen! We have found and shared so many delicious recipes from this site. The photography is beautiful; she has easy to understand made-from-scratch recipes that you can browse by season or type of food. While I have frequented her blog for some time, I just recently became a subscriber. Some of her recipes that we are excited about trying include the peach bourbon hand pies, stuffed roasted onions, pina colada cake and raspberry brown sugar gratin. I recently blogged about some of their cupcakes we made and we also tried two of their other recipes: garlic butter roasted mushrooms and shaved asparagus pizza. Both turned out to be delicious!
Once I told Loving Husband about the Irish “Car Bomb” cupcakes that I saw online, I KNEW that it would not be long before he was whipping up a batch for us. When I saw them they were in someone’s flickr album and had no information as to which website they were from or where the recipe could be found. LH started searching the internet and found a recipe for them that he was happy with on Smitten Kitchen. They always have such great recipes and food ideas, so I knew these wouldn’t be any different. Irish “Car Bombs” are drinks consisting of a pint of Guinness into which you drop a shot glass half full of Jameson’s whiskey and half full of Bailey’s Irish cream. Then you chug the drink before the Irish cream curdles. We chose to use St. Brendan’s instead of Bailey’s, because I personally find it to be a bit smoother. We also opted NOT to cover the tops with colored sugar. We don’t have a tiny circular cookie cutter, but used a small melon baller instead, which ended up working great!
These cupcakes were SO delicious!!! I could have probably eaten the entire batch by myself. These are best when devoured the same day, but when they are slightly heated, they can still be good days later. LH is planning on making some more today and I can’t wait! Do be warned though: while the Guinness is cooked out of the cupcakes, the Irish cream and the whiskey are NOT heated and therefore are still alcoholic. The amounts used are very tiny and most likely will not have any effect on adults, but it’s up to you whether or not you wish to feed them to your kids.