Black Forest Cake

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As soon as we got back to California, I was desperate to bake something, and for some reason I was stuck on Black Forest Cake. I hate the goopy, overly sweet cherry filling that you find in grocery store black forest cake, and I wanted something a little more sophisticated. This cake was perfect, especially after chilling for about 8 hours, which allows the flavors to really develop and blend.
You should be able to find Kirschwasser (cherry brandy) at any well-stocked liquor store.

(adapted from Diana’s Desserts)
For The Cake:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into bits
8 tablespoons (3/4 stick/3 oz/85g) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
l/2 cup water
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

For The Filling:
2 14-ounce cans sour cherries, drained, reserving the juice and a few cherries for garnish
l/3 cup granulated sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Kirschwasser

For The Syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 water
l/4 cup Kirschwasser

For The Chocolate Whipped Cream:
l envelope (1/4 oz./7g) unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons Kirschwasser
3 cups well-chilled heavy cream
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
l teaspoon vanilla extract

For Garnish:
1-1/2 cups chocolate shavings or chocolate curls
Cherries

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Grease and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with wax or parchment paper.

Combine the butter, chocolate, and water in the top of a double boiler and melt together, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.

Sift the flour and salt together onto a piece of wax paper and set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high for about 10 minutes. You’ll know when it’s ready when you can drizzle a ribbon of egg mixture and it sits on the surface for a few seconds before blending back in with the rest off the egg.

Carefully fold the sifted flour mixture into the eggs.

Fold in the chocolate mixture, then pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then turn the layers out to cool on wire racks.

To prepare the filling:
Combine the cherry juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan, and simmer, stirring, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, stir in the cherries and Kirschwassser, and let cool.

To prepare the syrup:
Boil the sugar and water together in a small sauce pan until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the Kirschwasser. Set aside.

To prepare the whipped cream:
Stir the gelatin and Kirschwasser together in a small saucepan, and let the gelatin soften for 5 minutes.
Place over low heat, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved, then remove from heat.
Beat the cream until it has soft peaks, then add the cocoa, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and beat until it hold stiff peaks. If the gelatin mixture has become cloudy, heat gently just until clear before adding it to the cream, otherwise, turn the mixer speed to low and gradually add the mixture in a smooth stream and beat well for about 30 seconds.

To assemble the cake, you can go for the more rustic look, or the more elegant look. If you’re going for elegant, assemble it inside the sides of a springform pan.
Place one layer on a plate, brush liberally with syrup, spread with half the cherry filling, then top with a layer of whipped cream. Add the second layer of cake, and repeat. For the top layer, brush with syrup and top with whipped cream.
If you’re assembling it inside the walls of a springform pan, let it chill that way for a few hours before continuing with the decoration.
Otherwise, spread the remaining whipped cream around the side (this is optional), sprinkle some chocolate shavings over the top, and decorate with reserved cherries. You could also pipe some of the whipped cream decoratively around the top, for a more elegant look.
Chill at least 6 hours before serving.

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