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Posted on Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 7 a.m.

Putting an end of year culinary check mark next to Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte

By Kim Bayer


Filling the layers of the Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte with kirsch-flavored syrup, whipped cream and brandied cherries.

Kim Bayer | Contributor

It's time for all the food writers and bloggers of the world to give us their year-end "best of 2012" boasts and lists of "what's coming for 2013" predictions — mostly having to do with pop-up restaurants, nose-to-tail locavore dining, barbecue, kale, artisans and kimchi it seems.

But right now I'm only focused on one thing — how happy I am to be completing my own year in food by making a dessert that has lived in my dreams since I tried it several years ago in Austria. It's been a fantasy because I don't know of any place in town making Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (aka Black Forest cake, with chocolate, whipped cream and cherry brandy). In the DIY spirit of our times, I'm making it myself for New Year's Eve and crossing it off my food bucket list.

The combination of chocolate and cherry is one of my favorites. When Nancy Biehn of Sweet Gem Confections told me recently that she would be brandying her own fruit to make chocolate covered cherries for Valentine's Day, I almost kissed her.

That conversation led me to the idea that the highest and best use for my precious stash of Locavorious organic Michigan-grown frozen cherries would have to be the whipped cream-covered chocolate and cherry Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte. Certainly New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day are among the appropriately festive occasions for the time and the calories involved in this cake.

Named for the brandy (Kirschwasser) made from cherries grown in the Black Forest (Schwarzwalder), region of southwestern Germany, according to Deutschlandmagazin "German statutory interpretation states Kirschwasser as a mandatory ingredient, otherwise the cake is legally not allowed to be marketed as Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte."

According to Wikipedia: "The confectioner Josef Keller (1887-1981) claimed to have invented Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte in its present form in 1915 at the then prominent Cafe Agner in Bad Godesberg, now a suburb of Bonn about 500 km north of the Black Forest. This claim, however, has never been substantiated."

I'm not sure whether he's any relation, but the version I made is Chef Hubert Keller's from Epicurious. The cake uses no chemical leaveners, only eggs for lightness. Keller advises, "A good Black Forest cake should be very moist and have a distinct kirsch flavor. So be sure to use good-quality kirsch."

To make your own, see the Black Forest Cake recipe from

Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.