When I was about 12 years old, my aunt made what I recall to be the best cake I ever had. It was a chocolate cake with cherries and about 1/4-inch thick chocolate icing which was so rich, it was like biting into a chocolate bar. In my adulthood, it was explained to me that it was a black forest cake and so I was inspired to make one. She told me the cherries were simply cherry pie filling and the icing was indeed just melted chocolate chips. OK simple enough. Or so I thought.
Google Black Forest Cake and what you will find is a slew of angry Germans outraged that Americans use cherry pie filling to make their beloved cake. “It’s too sweet! Disgusting!” Apparently, and no surprise here, they have rules for what constitutes a genuine Black Forest Cake. According to the site Germany Insider Facts, “There is more than one black forest cake recipe around, however, an authentic Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte must meet certain standards. According to the German guidelines for fine pastries a black forest cherry cake must include the following ingredients:
- Chocolate sponge layers, the bottom layer can also be a sweet shortcrust pastry.
- Whipped cream or buttercream, or a combination of both.
- Cherries and Kirschwasser (cherry schnapps, Kirsch) The cherry spirit flavour must be noticeable.
- The gateau is covered with whipped cream or buttercream and decorated with cream roses, cherries and grated chocolate.”
Now, I realize that making these into cupcakes may break the rules but I’m pretty sure after one bite, even the strictest Germans will fall in love.
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour mix C
3 tablespoons dutch process cocoa powder 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
7 large eggs, separated*
1 cup superfine sugar, divided**
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or table salt
1 tablespoon Kirschwasser (or another clear cherry brandy)
1 24 ounce (680g) jar of sour cherries in juice, divided
1/3 cup cherry juice from the jar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup Kirschwasser
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 cups heavy cream (or coconut cream for a dairy-free version***)
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon Kirschwasser
1 cup chocolate shavings
24 fresh cherries
*When separating eggs, it is very important that no yolk gets in the egg whites. Click for Egg Whites 101.
**Superfine sugar is simply granulated sugar that has been ground extra fine. The extra fine sugar will blend better in your batter and is preferred by Europeans (though they call it caster sugar). If you have trouble getting it, simply use regular granulated sugar. You can pulse it in the food processor for 30 seconds, if you like.
***To learn how to separate the coconut cream from the coconut milk, check out this post from Tasty Yummies titled How-to Make Whipped Coconut Cream.
- Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- In a medium mixing bowl , whisk together the flour mix, cocoa powder and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a bowl of an electric mixer, whisk by hand the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until thoroughly combined. Whip the mixture (using the whisk attachment) on medium high until the yolks and sugar are light and thickened (3 to 5 minutes). Scrape into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- In a clean and dry bowl of an electric mixer with a clean and dry whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they begin to foam (approximately 30 seconds). Add the cream of tartar or table salt and continue whipping until they are opaque and beginning to hold a very soft peak. Tip: With very soft peaks, the large bubbles are gone and you will see the whisk starting to leave impressions.
- Increase the speed to medium high and gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Continue to whip the eggs until glossy and they hold a firm peak (5 to 10 minutes). Tip: DO NOT over beat. They will liquefy again and you will need to throw them out and start over.
- Stir the tablespoon of Kirschwasser into the yolk mixture, followed by 1/4 of the whipped egg whites. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold to combine. Finally, fold in the remaining egg whites. Tips: 1. Fold only until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX! The batter will deflate. It’s Ok if some streaks remain. 2. View a video onHow to Fold an Ingredient into your Batter.
- Fill each liner 2/3 full, about 1/4 cup of the batter.
- Place the pans on the center rack and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the tops spring back when you touch them or a toothpick comes out clean of batter. Tip: Be not sure not to “over” bake these cupcakes. Cupcakes continue to bake a bit when removed from the oven so as long as the cake springs back, they do not need to be hard.
- Remove the pans from the oven and place them on cooling racks. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 15 minutes before removing them to cool completely. Tip: Cupcakes will be very fragile so handle with care.
- Drain the juice from the cherries into a bowl and set aside. Save the juice.
- Whisk 1/3 cup of the cherry juice and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Whisk in the cornstarch. Stir thoroughly until it all dissolves.
- Add the cherries. Occasionally, stir slowly until the mixture begins to boil and thicken. Remove from the heat.
- Stir gently a few times to coat all the cherries. Pour in the Kirschwasser and stir to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature. The mixture will thicken.
- In a medium heatproof mixing bowl, stir together the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the cream. Let stand for about 5 minutes to soften.
- Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to lukewarm. Note: Only cool until lukewarm. If the mixture gets too cool, the gelatin will solidify. If this happens, do not panic. Just reheat it until it is liquid again.
- While the gelatin mixture is cooling, start the whipped cream. In a large bowl, whip the cream and Kirschwasser until slightly thickened. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Mix in the gelatin.
- Whip the cream until stiff then fill the piping bag or ziploc bag with the whipped cream. DO NOT OVERWHIP. Tip: View How to Frost a Cupcake Without a Pastry Bag.
- Cut a hole in the center of each cupcake using a serrated knife.
- Fill each cupcake all the way to the top with the cherry filling.
- Pipe a swirl of cherry whipped cream frosting onto the cupcake. Cover that swirl with chocolate shavings. Then pipe one large, round dollop of frosting in the center of that first swirl.
- Crown with a single, fresh cherry.
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. You can make them up to 2 days in advance.
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