Forêt Noire. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Black Forest Cake. It’s all cake to me!

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Forêt Noire is the type of food that tricks me into thinking I can handle what seems like a normal portion of it only to have me wave a white flag even before half of said portion is gone.

Congratulations are in order, dear dessert: you make a sorry excuse out of someone who is supposed to have mad cake-gobbling skills. Don’t throw yourself too wild a party to celebrate, because you’ll need all that precious strength to fight me off when I come back fork in hand for a do-over.

I could probably have taken more elaborate pictures, but I’ve been dreaming of putting the from-tiramisù-to-forêt-noire idea to the test for a while now and I went into shoot first, ask questions later mode. I’m too blissed out on cake to be apologetic for it.

The sponge cake (génoise) recipe was adapted from the one for the tiramisù recipe found over at Veggywood, who adapted it from Insomniac Chef, who adapted it from Candace Naomi Sakuda. I could go on all day crediting lovelies, but I think that’s it.

As always, I weigh most ingredients. I’m adding the equivalence between parentheses for those who don’t, just keep in mind this one was tested with weights only.

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Forêt Noire:

For the Chocolate Génoise:

Non-stick cooking spray
200 g (1 cup) evaporated cane juice (granulated sugar)
75 g (1/3 cup) nondairy butter (or use 1/3 cup vegetable oil, no need to cream with sugar)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon cornstarch
190 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
40 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder (or use 20 g unsweetened cocoa powder and 20 g Dutch-process cocoa powder)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup nondairy milk

For the Chantilly filling:

1 container (1 pound) refrigerated Healthy Top
2 tablespoons amaretto (or regular) agave nectar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A few drops pure almond extract

For dipping the Génoise:

1 1/2 cups cooled black cherry tea (or regular black tea), steeped from at least 2 teabags
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon Kirschwasser, optional

For the cherries:

10 vegan maraschino cherries, patted dry (be sure they’re pitted and stemmed) OR reconstitute 10 dried cherries by soaking them in 1/4 cup hot water with a few drops pure almond extract until they plump up, about 15 minutes, then drain and pat dry

For decoration purposes:

Frozen dark chocolate bar to shave right on top of the cake

To make the génoise: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking pan with spray.
Using an electric mixer, cream together sugar, butter, extracts and cornstarch.
In a separate large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, and baking powder.
Add dry ingredients to wet, along with milk, and stir just until combined and smooth.
Place batter into prepared pan, and spread it evenly with an offset spatula.
Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Carefully flip over a cooling rack, let cool completely.
Once cooled, cut into 24 lady finger strips/skinny bars. Be gentle, as the génoise will be fragile.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) again. Carefully place all the bars on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for another 15 minutes. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

In the meantime, make the Chantilly filling: Whip all ingredients together using a handheld mixer in a large bowl for about 3 minutes, until fluffy.
Important: Keep a little less than 1/2 cup of it on the side, in the fridge, to put a touch of decoration to the finished product.

I use a 10 x 7-inch (25 x 18-cm) ceramic dish to assemble the dessert, but an 8-inch (20-cm) square dish would be fine too.

Stir the optional Kirschwasser into the cooled tea. Place into a shallow dish. Briefly and carefully dip each fragile génoise bar into the tea, letting the excess liquid drip back into the shallow dish. Cover the bottom of the pan/dish with half (12) of the génoise bars.
Use half of the Chantilly filling, and plop it onto the layer of génoise bars, carefully spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Randomly and lightly press cherries into the Chantilly filling. Dip each of the (12) remaining génoise bars into the cooled tea (again, letting the excess drip off), and cover the Chantilly filling with them.
Use the remaining Chantilly filling to cover the second layer of génoise bars, carefully spreading it evenly with an offset spatula.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Give the whole dish at least 1 hour in the fridge before covering it with plastic wrap, so that the Chantilly doesn’t adhere to the wrap.
Don’t forget to cover and place the remaining Chantilly filling back into the fridge, too.

When the time finally comes to partake, there are various ways to serve this: Cover the whole thing with chocolate sprinkles you will use a potato peeler or a chef’s knife to shave off a frozen dark chocolate bar, decorating the cake with the remaining Chantilly, using a pastry bag and the tip of your choice. Scoop out portions into dessert dishes. It’s a little less good-looking than what follows, but it does the trick.

For a cleaner portioning, you could do what I did up there and use a 3-inch deep, 4-inch wide plastic cutter to get 2 pretty servings from the middle of the pan (it takes some wiggling and careful prodding to plate it, but if my clumsy hands can do it, so can yours) and scoop what remains in bowls. Decorate with chocolate shavings and Chantilly clouds. Note that placing the cutters into the dish and then freezing it all for 1 hour makes it easier to transfer. Just be sure to give it some fridge time to thaw out a little once plated.

Or you could also make individual servings in pretty dessert dishes by doing the layering in there directly: no transferring involved, far less mess and less headaches.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

  • Nix says:

    Wow, I will have to make this. Looks mouthwateringly awesome.

  • Susan says:

    Black Forest is my favourite…. this looks amazing, and so cute!

  • Kelly says:

    I love that you used black cherry tea. So fun!

    • Celine says:

      this tea is so good! I’m usually not too keen on flavored teas, but I make an exception for this one. it’s not obnoxiously in your face like most of the other ones I’ve tried are.

  • SparkleMemo says:

    Looks so pretty and I can’t believe it’s vegan , gonna make this soon !

  • Kelly C says:

    YUMMY! I have a few boxes of Healthy Top out there that will have to be opened for such yumminess!

    • Celine says:

      something I love about HT is that the boxes have instructions in both French and English. I’m itching to move to Quebec just for that! not that I ever read instructions or need both languages, but just for the fun of it.

      oh and there was a sticker on the box with new instructions that it should be placed in the freezer, not the fridge. considering how hard mine gets (uh-huh) in the fridge, i wonder how on earth whipping it would be feasible once taken out of the actual freezer. no, thank you, I do not feel like breaking my handheld mixer into ten thousand pieces today.

      • Kelly C says:

        If you want bilingual then Ottawa (where I live) is the place to be. We live just over the bridge from Quebec so there are lots of French people and it is a requirement to speak both for most jobs, unfortunately for me since my French is not so good. But i think weather wise it would be a downgrade from where you are now since it gets to be -30c and sometimes colder with the windchill here and just this week we got buried unde a bunch of snow. Anytime you want to come visit though i would love to be your tour guide!

        And yes…my box of ht has this same sticker but i have yet to try it. I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to specialty vegan items since they are hard to get. You should see how long can make a pack of Field Roast last!

        • Celine says:

          how long?
          I’m really part labrador when it comes to things like that: I never get how people can have a plate of food or a cocktail in front of them and have it last for more than two minutes.

          as for the Ottawa cold, yeah I agree that -30C might be a bit much now that I’ve gotten used to Californian seasons. so to speak.

          • Kelly C says:

            I bought two packs back in Late October and I still have half of one left in the freezer. I never know when I will be able to get it again so while I want to slip it in everything I have to hold back. Is it something you can just go to the store to get there? I have to get it shipped to me from Montreal and they have a hard time keeping it stocked since right now they are sold out.

            By the way, yesterday I tried the Healthy Top in the freezer as they say to for a half hour and it whipped up nicely. It looked weird coming out of the container and was all lumpy but it came out smooth and fluffy after minute of whipping without the hand mixer. I’mnow wondering if it would be good to fild into ice cream mixes to make it softer and how to make mousse with it?

            • Celine says:

              I order it from amazon, but they’re out. not sure if I can get it at the local health food store, but I rarely go there anyway. and it’s cheaper on ‘zon in the end.

              kittee says it’s an awesome base for ice cream! I bet it is, but I still prefer to use mostly tofu or other lower fat options. because 1. I cannot say no to healthy top and 2. while it’s healthier than dairy, it’s still not super figure-friendly in higher doses like it would be in ice creams or here, in this Black Forest cake thing.

              • Kelly C says:

                Okay so I mixed the HT with some strawberries and some sugar in the Vitamix and it made a delicious strawberry mousse dessert. Then I took the rest of the plain HT and decided to mix some melted semisweet chocolate into it and it makes a ganache-y batch of yummy. You could fill a cake with it or even put it in a chocolate. I fricken love this stuff! And I am jealous because Amazon will not deliver it’s delicious goods to us up here in Canada….another reason not to move here…haha!