Light Black Forest Cake


Black Forest Cake is one of my family’s favorite desserts. Who could blame them? Rich, dark chocolate cake with sweet, moist cherries and whipped cream – what a combination! The picture above is of the cake that I made for my father this past week for his birthday. I normally make this cake with just two layers, but for my dad, I made the recipe as stated below, but then cut each cake layer in half to make 4 layers, instead of the two called for (because I wanted it look really impressive!) I must say, that while it looked great – it was A LOT more work! Next time I will definitely keep it more simple with just the two layers. Also, I topped his cake with dried cherries instead of reserving some of the sour cherries – so feel free to make that substitution as well.

This cake definitely takes a little time, a little extra work, and a lot of dirty dishes – but it is really, really worth it. A few family members stated that it was more moist and flavorful than the black forest cakes they get from their bakeries!! Now that’s quite a compliment! And THIS version has 1/3 the calories of the black forest cakes from the bakery – so keep in mind that even though it takes a little more work – it is well worth the reward!!

6 tablespoons unsifted Dutch-process cocoa powder

6 tablespoons sifted cake (all purpose or whole wheat pastry) flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 large egg whites

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 jar or can (about 16 ounces) water-packed, pitted sour cherries (drained with 1/2 cup of juice reserved)

4 teaspoons light brown sugar2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon lemon rind

whipped topping *SEE NOTE at end of post*

To Make the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line the bottom of two 8-inch round pans with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, sugar and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until they are foamy; add the cream of tartar and beat until the egg whites hold soft peaks (about 2-3 minutes). Increase the speed to high, add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute longer. (The whites will be soft, but firm. They should not be dry or overly stiff).

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the cocoa powder mixture into the egg whites in 3 additions (you don’t want to “dump” it all in at once, or it will be too heavy, and will cause the egg whites to deflate). Gently pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the cake starts to “pull away” from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and cool them on a wire rack upside-down in their pans. When the cakes have cooled to room temperature, loosen the sides gently with a sharp thin knife, or metal spatula and remove the parchment paper.

To Make the Filling:

Place the (drained) cherries in a bowl, saving a few for garnish, if desired; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and lemon rind. Slowly whisk in the reserved “juice” from the cherries until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let the mixture boil for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the reserved whole cherries (except those saved for garnish). Mix well and set aside.

To Assemble the Cake:

Place one of the two cakes on a serving plate. Top with the cherry mixture – spreading it all the way out to the edges. Gently spread about 1 cup’s worth of the whipped cream over the cherry mixture. Carefully place the second cake on top of the whipped cream. At this point you may either “frost” the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream, or use a decorating bag to pipe the whipped cream into a decorative pattern on the top of the cake. Garnish the top with the reserved cherries, and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Makes 12 servings. Per serving: 142 calories, 3 g total fat, less then 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 28 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 9 g added sugar, 4.5 g protein, 71 mg sodium, 8 mg cholesterol.


As I have stated before in previous posts, homemade whipped cream is a tricky process. The full fat version always seems to come out perfectly, but alas, when trying to make it make it “lighter”, it can be finicky. Humidity, heat, not having the bowlsbeaters completely clean, not having the ingredients quite cold enough – these factors can all impact how your whipped cream turns out. I have made this recipe three times in the past week for three different cakes. Twice it came out perfectly – the third time, it was a COMPLETE disaster! Go figure! So on that third cake, I simply used store-bought fat-free whipped topping (you know, the stuff that that comes in the “tub” from the refrigerated section of the supermarket). I have to admit that the store-bought stuff worked out just fine, and still tasted delicious. So if you don’t feel like dirtying all the pans and bowls needed, don’t feel like taking the frustrating chance that it won’t turn out properly, or simply don’t have the time – use the fat-free store-bought stuff. It will still turn out beautifully, still be a much lower calorie version, and still taste spectacular. If you are feeling adventurous, and would like to have a go at making your own, here is the recipe:

To Make your own Whipped Cream:

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1/3 cup heavy cream

4 teaspoons confectioners sugar

1/3 cup ice-cold evaporated skim milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place the water in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let this sit for 5 minutes to “soften”, then set the saucepan over very low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the gelatin fully dissolves (about 5 minutes). Set saucepan aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream at high speed with an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks. Add the confectioners sugar 1 teaspoon at a time, then add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until it holds very stiff peaks. Set aside.

In another small bowl, combine the ice cold evaporated skim milk and lemon juice. Beat with the electric mixer (clean the beaters first!) at high speed until very stiff, then beat in the gelatinwater mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream mixture into this mixture. Use as stated above in assembling the cake.

1 comment
  1. Wowee! This may be the ticket! My Dad would love this too. Although it is my husband I am wanting to bake for. Thanks for sharing the recipe. You are amazing!

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