Saturday, October 23, 2010

Can't See the Forest for the Cherries - Black Forest Cake

My nephew Blaine is celebrating his 17th birthday.  Due to the fact that he is enthralled with all things "cherry and chocolate" I decided he was in need of a Black Forest cake for said birthday.

So what exactly is a Black Forest Cake?  It is a decadent combination of Morello Cherries and massive quantities of chocolate cake all bound together with lightly sweetened whipped cream and liberally laced with that famous liqueur of the Black Forest in Germany... Kirschwasser.

What is Kisrchwasser?

Kirschwasser is German for "Cherry Water", and while it may be as clear as water, the stuff packs a punch.  This double distilled brandy made from the sour Morello cherry is, more often than not, simply referred to a Kirsch.  In a nutshell, what the Marasca Cherry is to Maraschino (the Italian liqueur, not those unnaturally red things in the jar), the Morello Cherry is to Kirschwasser.   This "not too sweet with a subtle cherry/almond flavored" liqueur is a vitally necessary ingredient to make a traditional Black Forest Cake; for that is where both the cake and Kirschwasser hail from...  The Black Forest, or Schwarzwald, in southwestern Germany.  They make an awesome ham too, but that is another post.

Here in America, this liquor is often missing from Black Forest Cake, which is a pity, as even a little adds a subtle almond-ish nuance that is quite pleasing.  So stop reserving your bottle for those fondue parties and break it out for your cakes as well....  LOL

OK, I will confess, this is not the normal way I make Black Forest Gateau (cake).  The reason for this modified recipe is to cut down on the amount of liquor I was using.  Oh, it still exists in the cherry filling, but the filling is cooked so at least some of the alcohol has boiled off.  There is also Kirshwasser in the stabilized whipped cream, but it's only 2 TB in 3 cups of heavy cream.  I figured that was a low enough amount that it could be safely served to a 17 year old.  After all, I would not want to contribute to the delinquency of a minor or anything... ;)

The main change was the cake.  Normally I would use a chocolate genoise or chocolate sponge, but since I was not going to be liberally brushing the cake with Kirchwasser this time, I opted for the Best Chocolate Cake Ever! instead.  It's deeply chocolaty and moist, without the additional liquor.

Black Forest Cake (Gateau)

1 recipe of Best Chocolate Cake Ever!, baked in 2 9-inch rounds

Morello Cherry Filling
700 g Morello Cherries (drained with juice saved)
3/4 cup reserved Cherry Juice
1/4 cup Kirschwasser
5 tsp Cornstarch
pinch of Cinnamon

Drain the cherries and reserve 3/4 cup of the juice.

Pour the juice in a small sauce pan and place over medium heat.

In a small bowl, combine Kirschwasser and cornstarch to make a slurry.

Season with a pinch of cinnamon, then add the slurry to the cherry juice.

Cook until thick and bubbly, then remove from the heat and fold in the cherries.

Set aside to cook while you make the stabilized Kirschwasser whipped cream.

Stabilized Kirschwasser Whipped Cream

2 TB Kirshwasser
2 tsp gelatin (Unflavored of course)
1 tsp meringue powder
3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1/8 cup powdered sugar

Bloom gelatin in Kirshwasser for 5 minutes.

Set gelatin in simmering water until melted and clear then set aside to cool slightly.

Begin whipping the Heavy Cream along with the Confectioners' Sugar and Meringue powder in an ice bath, until JUST beyond soft peaks.

Add the bloomed gelatin, use hand whisk until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble the cake

First, slice the cakes in half horizontally, leaving you with 4 layers.

Place the bottom layer on a cardboard cake round or a plate, and cover with about 3/4 cup of the Kirschwasser cream.

Spoon half of the cooled cherry mixture over the cream,

Top with a second layer of cake then cover this with about 3/4 cup of the Kirschwasser Cream (no cherries this time)

Then add the 3rd layer of cake and smear with 3/4 cup of the Kirschwasser Cream.

Spoon the remaining cherry mixture over the cream.

Cover with the final layer of cake and coat the whole thing with the remaining Kirschwasser Cream.

Place Candied Crab Apples (or Candied Cherries) on top.

Sprinkle with copious amounts of shaved Chocolate.

Cut a big huge piece for your nephew.....

And let him chow down while you sing happy birthday!



Unknown said...

Oh wow!!! I mean seriously YUM!!!

Patti T. said...

That looked so good, your cake seemed so high. I bet your birthday cake was a huge hit with everyone. It is one of my favorites and I haven't had one in a long time. Any leftovers?

Shane T. Wingerd said...

Thanks Danille :)

Patti, It was a little higher than normal this time. I used a different recipe for the chocolate cake; the chocolate sponge I normally use creates thinner layers... I can always call my nephew and see if there is any left over... ;)