The Real “German Chocolate Cake”

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Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is THE German chocolate cake. Invented in the 1930’s somewhere in Germany (probably not even the Black Forest… the origin is unclear, and many claim it was their creation), it’s one of the most popular cakes in Germany and one of the most widely exported cakes from Germany. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte uses Kirschwasser (aka cherry water, a brandy made from cherries), a fluffy chocolate sponge cake, jelled cherries and a simple whipped cream frosting. Ever had “German Chocolate Cake,” the chocolate cake that’s frosted with a coconut pecan frosting? It’s delicious, but if you thought it was a real German cake, think again. An American named Sam German invented it and nobody in Germany knows it. I was first introduced to it when I was an exchange student in Kansas in 2005, and it’s since been my mission to educate the American people about this misnomer! 😉

Kirschwasser, A German Cherry Brandy

The “real” German Chocolate Cake is Kirschwasser infused (you soak the sponge cake itself as well as the cherry filling with a delicious cherry brandy called Kirschwasser). It’s not the easiest to find in the US, but I recommend Schladerer, which was “cultivated at the foothill zone of the Black Forest at heights of 200 to 300 meters” (see picture below; check this link to see if Schladerer Kirschwasser is available in your area). Kirschwasser is pretty versatile and can be used for savory dishes as well, especially one of my favorite wintertime recipes, cheese fondue! Please make sure to check out my recipe!

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Ingredients for a 3-layer cake:

Chocolate Sponge Cake:

  • 5 oz (140 g) bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 Tbsp (75 g) butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 + 2 Tbsp (180 g) sugar
  • 3/4 c (100 g) flour
  • 1/2 c (50 g) cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Cherry Mixture:

  • 28 oz (800 g) jarred cherries (drained weight, I used the one Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s and they’re from Germany, too!)
  • 2 c (500 ml) cherry juice (reserve when draining cherries)
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 oz (50 ml) Kirschwasser (I used Schladerer Kirschwasser and the results were amazing! Check here to see if it’s available in your area.)

Frosting:

  • 27 oz (800 ml) heavy whipping cream (I only used 16 oz – about 500 ml – for my naked cake)
  • 4 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract

Other:

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a waterbath (see picture below).
  3. Separate the eggs. Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat egg yolks with sugar until foamy. Whisk the melted chocolate in with the egg yolks. Mix together flour, corn starch and baking powder and sift over the chocolate-yolk mixture. Add beaten egg whites on top and carefully fold together using a whisk.
  4. Prep a spring form with non-stick cooking spray and parchment paper, then fill batter into the form. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, then allow to cool completely.
  5. Cut cake into 3 even layers (I used a cake layer cutter like this one).
  6. Reserving the cherry liquid and pouring it into a small pot, drain the cherries. Put some of the reserved cherry juice into a cup and whisk together with the cornstarch and sugar, then add back to the juice and bring to a boil. Stir in the cherries, then let cool for a bit. Add in the Kirschwasser.
  7. Brush two of the three layers with Kirschwasser (amount under “other” ingredients), then layer half of the cherries on each of those layers and allow to cool and jell up.
  8. In a large bowl, add together heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla and using an electric mixer, whip until stiff.
  9. Put one of the cherry-covered layers onto a cake platter, then add one fourth of the whipped cream. Add the second cherry-covered layer and add second fourth of the whipped cream. Finish by layering the last cake on top, brushing it with some more Kirschwasser, then finish covering the cake with whipped cream. Decorate with shaved chocolate and some more cherries if preferred.
  10. Guten Appetit!

Sophie’s Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte Tools & Entertaining Picks

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Sponsored Content and Affiliate Links Disclosure

I received compensation from Niche Import Co. in exchange for writing this post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions, thoughts and recipes are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may be compensated if you click certain links.