This Black Forest Cake has a layer of smooth cherry cheesecake sandwiched between layers of rich, moist chocolate cake. It’s covered in a cream cheese frosting and crowned with more cherries and grated chocolate.
This triple-layer cake is a decadent birthday or Valentine’s day treat with an extra layer of decadence. If you want to keep things simple, however, you can omit the cheesecake layer for a more traditional Black Forest Cake.
Of course, I highly recommend the creamy cherry cheesecake layer. It makes a spectacular presentation and a delicious twist on Black Forest Cake. It’s a must-have in my family.
How to Make Black Forest Cake
The three components to this layered dessert are a creamy cheesecake with cherries, a decadent dark chocolate cake, and a vanilla cream cheese frosting. Add a garnish of chocolate shavings and more cherries on top to complete the display.
Making Cherry Cheesecake
To give the cheesecake enough time to set up, make the cheesecake layer first. Before you start, ensure all of the ingredients are at room temperature. If the dairy is too cold, it can cause your cheesecake to be lumpy.
This easy cheesecake has a built-in elegance from swirls of cherry pie filling. This is an effortless trick to elevate your cheesecakes without much extra work.
To bake the cheesecake, you’ll need to fill a pan with boiling water and place it under the cake in the oven. This adds moisture to the oven to evenly and slowly cook the cheesecake for a uniform texture that doesn’t crack.
After baking, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the edge of the pan. This prevents the cheesecake from pulling on the sides as it cools, which can cause cracks.
When the cheesecake layer is fully cooled, freeze it in the springform pan, covered, while you prepare the other components of the cake. When you want to assemble the cake, let the frozen cheesecake thaw a bit so it’s easy to remove from the pan.
Dark Chocolate Cake Layer
While the cheesecake cools, adjust the oven temperature and prepare the chocolate cake layers. Again, you’ll want room temperature ingredients.
For this cake batter, you will combine your dry ingredients in the mixing bowl first. Then add the wet ingredients and stir together. Finally, pour in the boiling water. The resulting batter will be runny; that’s normal.
Cream Cheese Frosting
The fluffy cream cheese frosting for your black forest cake is quick and easy to make. If you’re preparing the frosting ahead of time, cover the bowl with a damp towel to prevent a crust from forming.
Assembling Three Layer Black Forest Cake
When all of the components are prepared, it’s time to assemble your three-layered cake. First, place a layer of chocolate cake on your serving plate. Invert the cheesecake on top of the first cake layer. Then remove the cake pan bottom and parchment paper.
Next, add the second chocolate cake layer. If there is a hump on top of the cake, trim it off with a sharp serrated knife.
Finally, ice your cake with the frosting. This recipe makes enough frosting to coat the cake in a thin layer and add a piped border.
To pipe a pretty edge around your cake, fill a piping bag or a Ziplock bag with a piping tip. I used Wilton tip #4B. Pipe a decorative border around the top of the cake.
Finally, gently spoon the cherries and filling on top of the cake inside your frosting border.
To add chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler to shave a dark chocolate bar into elegant chips. Then use a spoon to scoop the chocolate shavings around the sides of the cake. Gently press the shavings into the sides around the base.
How to Serve & Store Black Forest Cake
Cheesecake is similar to ice cream; it cuts best with a warmed knife. Run a knife under hot water, then dry the blade, and it should cut through easily.
Before storing the cake, I recommend chilling it in the refrigerator for 1 hour to set the frosting so it is no longer tacky. Once the frosting is set, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. Bring the cake to room temperature for serving.
Why Is It Called A Black Forest Cake?
Many people think that the black forest cake is named after the Black Forest. In fact, the cake is named after a tart-cherry alcoholic liquor called ‘Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser’, also known as Black Forest Kirsch. I rarely cook with liquors, but you could certainly make your own cherry pie filling with kirsch.
More Decadent Cheesecake Recipes
Looking for more gorgeous homemade cakes? You’ll love these other recipes:
- Chocolate Cake with Oreo Cheesecake Filling is another layered treat with creamy Oreo flavors and crunch.
- Chocolate Dulce De Leche Triple Layer Cake is pure decadence with dark chocolate and caramel.
- Layered Instant Pot Strawberry Cheesecake from Pressure Cooking Today is a must-try fruity cheesecake for Instant Pot lovers.
Black Forest Cheesecake Cake
- 2 packages 8-ounces each cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated white sugar
- Pinch salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1 cup cherry pie filling
Chocolate Cake Layer
- 1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1-¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup Hershey’s cocoa
- 1-¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1-¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup cherry pie filling
- grated chocolate optional
- CHEESECAKE LAYER
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Put a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a stand or electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and salt until well combined. Add in eggs one at a time, beating at low speed until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Put dollops of cherry pie filling scattered across the top of the cheesecake batter. Use a butter knife to hide the cherries and swirl the pie filling into the batter.
- Set a metal broiler tray on the bottom oven rack. Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the broiler tray. Place the springform pan in the oven on the rack above the boiler tray.
- Bake the cheesecake for 45 – 55 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake and let it cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes, run a butter knife or spatula around the edge to help prevent cracking.
- Cool for at least an hour, then place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely for several hours, or overnight.
- CAKE LAYERS
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; With a mixer, beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in boiling water. The batter will be very thin. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer until blended. Add powder sugar and beat until smooth.
- ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
- Place one cake layer in the center of a cake plate or platter.
- Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, layer the cheesecake layer on top of the bottom cake layer. (I had to let my springform pan warm up a bit before it would open.)
- If your cheesecake layer is not the same size as your cake layer, you may need to trim it before adding it. Peel off the parchment. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.
FROST THE CAKE
- Apply a thin layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake to create a crumb coat. Put the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, apply a second layer of frosting to the sides.
- Pipe a decorative edge on top of the cake. Add the remaining cherry pie filling to the top of the cake and carefully spread it up to the decorated edge. Sprinkle grated chocolate on the decorated edge and sides of the cake. Keep cake refrigerated until ready to serve.
Can you make with a no bake cheesecake recipe. Thanks
I don’t think I would. I think it might melt and not set up very nicely since it is getting baked.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!
I made this cake for my daughter’s 22nd birthday last year, and it was a huge hit! So much so that my best friend said that he would like to have this for… every birthday and cake holiday forever. Which brings me to now, with his birthday at the end of the month.
I’m really super busy and wondering if you have any tips on what/ how to prepare portions of this in advance to break up the prep time.
Hi Jeni – thanks so much for sharing how much your friends and family love the cake. You can make the cake layers and cheesecake layer ahead of time and freeze them until the day before you’re serving the cake. Let the cake layers and cheesecake thaw overnight in the fridge and assemble as described.
Hi there, I was wondering if I could use fresh cherries in this cake, my family isn’t into overly sweet cakes and I am worried that this cake might be a little sweet with the pie filling
Or does some of the sweetness that is needed come from the filling?
Hi Grania – yes, you could make a compote with fresh cherries and adjust the sweetness to your taste. Here’s a pressure cooker recipe, but you may need to double the cornstarch to thicken the filling for the cake https://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/pressure-cooker-cherry-compote/
Question is: why do you freeze the cheesecake?
Hi Debra – so that it is nice and solid and doesn’t break apart when you’re layering the cake.
I was considering adding a layer in between the cakes and cheesecake. Like a cherry mouse? Wondering if you might have a suggestion? Thanks 🙂
Hi Jodi – I’m afraid a mousse layer in the middle would make the cake difficult to cut since the cheesecake is dense. If you want a mousse layer, you’d probably want to add it on top. Here’s a strawberry mousse that you could switch up to cherry https://www.barbarabakes.com/strawberry-cheesecake-entremet/
what cherry pie filling do you use?
Hi Jackie – the Wilderness brand is easiest to find in my area https://www.walmart.com/ip/Wilderness-Original-Country-Cherry-Pie-Filling-Topping-21-oz/10308041?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227010619046&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40890257192&wl4=pla-57783615106&wl5=9028046&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=10308041&wl13=&veh=sem
I have just made this for the first time and will try it tomorrow on my birthday. Of course mine doesn’t look as nice as yours, but my decorating skills are not the best.
I think that I will give some away to friends and family too, but would like to know if the rest of it can be cut up and frozen for a later date, or do I need to eat it all fairly quickly?
Hi Geoff – I haven’t tried it, but it should freeze very well. Happy birthday!
Do you have to do the water bath? Or can I skip that step and change the temperature?
Hi Bridget – you don’t have to use a water bath and won’t need to change the temperature. You can also put a pan of water on the rack underneath the springform pan if you don’t want to put the springform pan in the water.
thank you so much! lol I actually used a cookie sheet, worked great! baking it right now! boyfriend comes home tomorrow cant wait to surprise him with this it looks delicious!
What a great surprise. Enjoy!
Hi, this looks amazing. Question – the directions say to freeze the cheesecake layer for several hours or overnight. When it’s time to assemble the cake, does the cheesecake layer need to be defrosted first, or put out for a few hours to come to room temperature before assembling?
Hi Gloria – cheesecake thaws pretty quick so no defrosting needed. Cheesecake is served cold, so assemble it and store it in the fridge for a few hours.