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Come summertime, cherries, luscious and deep dark garnet, beckon seductively among other fruits in the produce aisle. Red is my favorite color, and the fact that it is actually edible this time of year is irresistible. Forgetting the other groceries and risking the life of perishables and frozen items in my shopping bags, I fish them out and tumble them into a sieve in the sink. Sometimes, in my over-eagerness, I neglect to wash them and eat them straight out of the bag, cooties be damned. Fleshy, firm, tart, gushing with brilliant juice, this is a treat I devour and savor, in spite of the allergic reaction that tragically makes my mouth and throat itch like its been attacked by maniacal ants.
As a matter of course, cherries insinuate themselves into many of my recipes—pies, tarts, turnovers, ice cream sauces. This week, Black Forest Cake was the vessel. The cake is usually a stacked affair made up of layers of dark chocolate cake brushed with liquor (namely kirsch, made with cherries), with fluffy whipped cream and cherries nesting between the layers. Shards or curls of chocolate deck the top and sometimes garish maraschino cherries sneak their way in.
I've had the layered version, and made it, too, but always find that the billowy whipped cream is too weak to provide structure to the cake. To simplify things a bit, I modified one of my favorite chocolate cakes. It's rich, dense, and very chocolaty thanks to bloomed cocoa powder (boiling water is added to the cake mixture and boosts the flavor) as well as melted bittersweet chocolate. Though fresh cherries in all their hot weather glory will ultimately top this cake, I wanted to incorporate as many iterations of the fruit as possible and opted for dried cherries, plumped up in a bath of boiling kirsch.
For an extra-easy cake that you don't have to fuss over but will still garner praise, it's dolloped with lashings of sweetened whipped cream and topped with shards of dark chocolate right before serving. Happy summer.
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