Black Forest Cherry Cake
This takes quite a few steps. I got this recipe from my mother's Time Life Foods of the World: Germany book.
The day before, take 8 oz of your favorite semi-sweet dark or white chocolate to make garnishes. I use a bar of white and a bar of semi-sweet Ghirardelli. Melt separately for a minute or so in the microwave, stirr and then with spoon or pastry bag lay down ribbons on piece of parchment paper. Use a fork to create the marble effect. Slide into the fridge or a cool place. Make sure you make it a day before so it's got time to harden.
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup kirsch
Bring water and sugar to boil over moderate heat, stirring only until sugar dissolves. Boil briskly for 5 minutes to reduce a little, remove from heat. When syrup is luke warm, add kirsh and stir in. Set aside.
1-2 cups of pitted sour cherries packed in water or light syrup, rinsed and drained. (I like more cherries than the recipe calls for) Set aside. If you have fresh cherries, pit and de-stem them, and poach them in a mix of 2 cups water and 3/4 cup sugar, simmering on low for 5 minutes or the cherries are tender. Drain and cool.
If you like maraschino cherries for garnish, get a small jar with the stems still on. Drain those as well but do not rinse. Set aside.
10 TBSP unsalted butter
6 eggs room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
butter and flour to coat three 8 or 9 inch pans
Get your pans set up with wax or parchment paper in the bottoms, buttered and floured before you even start making the cake itself. This cake is delicate in the mixing and you want it in the oven as soon as possible. Preheat oven to 350°.
Clarify the 10 tablespoons of butter in a small pan or in the microwave. Let it rest a minute after melting gently, skim off the foam and discard the milk solids at the bottom.
In a small bowl sift together cocoa and flour together and set aside.
In a mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer whip the eggs and sugar until it nearly triples in bulk. This will take 10 minutes on High. Then with a spatula start folding in the cocoa-flour mix in small portions, be gentle with the mix to keep it from collapsing. Once the cocoa-flour is all mixed in, start adding the clarified butter the same way. The volume will start to go down, but don't panic. As long as you are gentle with the process, it doesn't fall any more than it should. Once all the butter is folded in, pour immediately into the three pans and slide them in the oven. Cook 10-15 minutes or until toothpick or knife tests clean.
Remove pans from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking out of the pans. A sharp knife will be needed to release the edges of the cake from the pan. Leave the cakes on their wax paper until it's time to put the cake together. The wax paper will keep the cake together for construction.
When cool, prick the cakes with a fork and then drizzle them with the syrup made earlier. Don't use too much - there's plenty of left over. You want the cakes moist but not swimming.
3 cups chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup icing/confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup kirsh
Whip cream until just thickening and then sift in the icing sugar. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form and then while still beating pour in the kirsh in a thin stream until combined. Your topping is ready.
You need a large workspace for assembly. On a cake plate or stand, turn your first layer on to the surface, peeling off the wax paper. Slather on some of the whip cream making a bit of a dam around the edges. Lay in half of your sour cherries. Tip on the next layer and repeat the process using up the rest of your sour cherries. Place the third layer on top, and apply the remaining topping to coat the whole cake. Smooth the surface but don't get too fussy. It looks nice with some texture.
From here it's all a matter of design and preference. Some grate up a bar of chocolate and press the shavings into the sides of the cake, and place curls of chocolate on top. I take my marbled chocolate and either cut into leaves or make shards like I did this year, spiraling them around, interspersed with maraschino cherries. Your done! Set it in the fridge to chill and enjoy the leftover chocolate shards.
If you're not an experienced baker, make sure you've got a lazy sunday to work with on this. When you're used to the recipe, you can do it in an evening like I did.