Black Forest Torte is a classic cake from Germany. Layers of chocolate cake are filled with whipped cream and cherries are strewn over the cream. The Black Forest Torte is then finished with more whipped cream and usually decorated chocolate, often chocolate curls.
When I taught, the Black Forest Torte was always on the list of cakes that students made. But I always felt it lacked something (heresy, I know). So in order to zip it up a bit, I started with a Reine de Saba layer. I made a filling of frozen sweet dark cherries, rimmed the cake in whipping cream (we don’t want to stray too far) and piled chocolate curls in the middle. Now, this is going to look like it took forever and you can pretend the difficulty was immense. But in reality, it can be done over days and it isn’t that hard at all. Its beauty belies its simplicity.
The dark as night, Reine de Saba translates to Queen of Sheba. While it usually has almonds, I omit these and under-bake the cake slightly so the center falls in a bit to hold the cherry filling. We used this cake extensively as a base at the bakery. I have used it several times in my blog for the Amaretto Truffle Torte and the first blog for Pastries Like a Pro, Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Torte.
The Reine de Saba makes a great base for the Black Forest Torte because it is sturdy but moist and full of flavor. For this recipe, I have increased the ingredients for a deeper base. This base can be made a month ahead, frozen and wrapped in foil. Thaw, still wrapped in foil, at room temperature.
The Dark Cherry Filling for this Black Forest Torte is a slight variation of the one used for Sweet Cherry Calzones. Frozen cherries are used so this can be made year ‘round and also for their juice when thawed. The almond extract makes all the difference. This filling can be made several days ahead and refrigerated until final assembly.
While the chocolate curls are optional, they do add a lot to the finish. They will take a little practice but are not difficult. The big trick here is the temperature of the chocolate when shaping. Too warm and the chocolate will not curl. Too hard and it will not curl. Moving it in and out of the refrigerator will allow the chocolate to reach just the right consistency. Make as many as you can, then pop the pan back into the fridge for another minute or so. This technique is the same whether you are making small curls as for this Black Forest Torte or much larger ones as in the White Chocolate Curls. These may be made weeks ahead of time, stored in a container and kept refrigerated until needed.
The day before or the day of serving the Black Forest Torte, whip the cream, finish the edges and pile in the chocolate curls. Since not all of the curls will be beauties, use the not so beautiful curls for the first layer on top of the cherry filling then pile on the beautiful ones.
Present your Black Forest Torte with pride for a job well done.
Reine de Saba Base
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (225 grams)
1/2 cup flour (70 grams or 2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened (225 grams, 8 ounces or 2 sticks)
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×2 inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Spray the center only of the paper. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave at half power. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar on #1 on the mixer until well combined. Scrape down and add 2 eggs, beat well. It may curdle but just continue. Add the chocolate and mix until all is blended.
Add the remaining 2 eggs and beat. At this point, it probably will be somewhat curdled. Add the flour mixture and mix on low, scraping several times to incorporated everything.
Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth out and bake for 30 minutes. It will look flat on top but it will sink somewhat as it cools. That is as it should be. Cool completely. At this point, it can wrapped and refrigerated several days or frozen for a month.
Dark Sweet Cherry Filling18 ounces frozen dark, sweet cherries (510 grams)*
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup cherry juice, reserve the remainder
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon almond extract
*1 1/2 – 12 ounce packages of frozen dark cherries
Place the cherries in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. They need to be completely thawed and juiced.
Add the cornstarch to the 1/3 cup cherry juice, stirring well.
Combine the sugar and remaining cherry juice in a medium size pan. Stir well. Add the cherries, and cornstarch mixture. Stir together and place over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Stir in the almond extract. Transfer to a bowl, cover the top directly with plastic wrap and allow the filling to come to room temperature. Chill overnight.
Chocolate Curls, optional
5 1/2 ounces of semisweet chocolate (155 grams)
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave at half power. Spread the chocolate in a half sheet pan as evenly as possible. Chill in the refrigerator until hard. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and let it sit briefly at room temperature. Make the curls by pulling the edge of a serving size spoon through the chocolate. If is too soft, it will stick to the spoon, if it is too hard it will shatter. Move the chocolate in and out of the refrigerator as necessary to achieve the correct consistency. It will take a few passes but in no time curls will form. Place them in a closed container and refrigerate until needed.
These can be made at least a week ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
1 cup heavy or 40% cream, cold
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Combine the cream and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium until it starts to thicken. Raise to high and beat to firm peak stage. This can be made hours before using if it is refrigerated after whipping.
Assembly of the Black Forest Torte
Reine de Saba base, thawed if frozen
Dark Sweet Cherry Filling
Chocolate Curls, optional
Place the Reine de Saba base on a serving plate or cake board. Fill the depression with the cherry filling. With a #8 open star tip, pipe a border with the whipped cream.
Lay the chocolate curls out on a tray. Pick the least attractive ones and use those for the first layer on top of the cherry filling. Top with the remainder of the curls.
Chill if not using immediately.
Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Be sure to present the cake to the guests before cutting.
Store any leftovers of the Black Forest Cake in the refrigerator.