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+ servings
Black forest cake with layers of chocolate cake, cherries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

High Altitude Black Forest Cake

Heather Smoke
A decadent black forest cake made with moist dark chocolate cake, homemade cherry pie filling and fresh whipped cream.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 9-inch cake pans (x2)
  • Electric Mixer (Stand or Hand-Held)


Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened, Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp instant espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Cherry Filling

  • 2 lbs fresh or frozen pitted cherries
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp tart cherry juice or cherry liqueur
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Whipped Cream

  • 2 ½ cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tbsp chocolate shavings
  • fresh cherries, with stems, for decorating the top


Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F, and spray the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Separately, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and whisk until combined, about 15 seconds.
  • Divide the batter between the pans. Bake on the center oven rack for about 25-30 minutes, until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Set the pans on a cooling rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely.

Cherry Filling

  • Pit the cherries, if they're not already pitted. You can leave the cherries whole, or cut them into halves or quarters, whatever you prefer. The smaller you cut the fruit, the more "jam like" the filling will be. I left mine whole, but probably would have preferred them to be cut smaller since they were kind of big cherries.
  • In a stock pot, combine the cherries with the sugar, corn starch, salt, cherry juice/liqueur and lemon juice.
  • Over medium heat, bring the cherries to a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the fruit begins to bubble and thicken, cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly, until very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the butter.
  • Let the cherries cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until well chilled, preferably overnight. Before assembling your cake, use a spoon to loosen up the filling a little.

Whipped Cream

  • When you're ready to assemble your cake, use an electric mixer to whip the cold cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and whip until stiff peaks form that hold their shape.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to shave the side of a chocolate bar, and reserve the chocolate shavings for sprinkling on top of the cake.


  • Important: I suggest waiting to assemble the cake until you're ready to serve it. The layers can get a bit slippery with the cherry filling and whipped cream, and you don't want your cake sliding apart if you assemble it too far in advance.
  • Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving pedestal. If the cakes are domed, use a sharp knife to slice a thin layer off the top to level the cake.
  • Top the cake with half the cherries.
  • Dollop half the whipped cream on top of the cherries (or use a piping bag to pipe it on - I piped on the whipped cream with Tip #8B).
  • Repeat with another layer of cake, cherries and whipped cream. Sprinkle the shaved chocolate on top of the cake, and decorate with fresh cherries.


Leftover cake should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or cake carrier for 3 days.
Keyword Black Forest, Cherry, Chocolate Cake, High Altitude Cake
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