sunken black forest cake

My kids will be at least 25% candy for the rest of the week, as the season demands. If it doesn’t come individually wrapped, if the first, second, or third ingredient isn’t chocolate, a food dye, or high fructose corn syrup, if it doesn’t have a marketing tie-in with Spongebob or Legos, they’re not eating it. Which means, since they’ve now definitely left the room, we get this cake all for us. You’re welcome, because we’re not going to share it anyway.

some things you'll needchopped chocolatebutter, chocolate, yolkswhipped whites

This whole fall — save a brief but devoted two weeks of apple pie studies — I have craved chocolate almost nonstop, and I don’t mean at perfunctory square of 72% and calling it a day. I mean, chocolate éclairs and chocolate brownies and molten chocolate cakes and chocolate pot de cremes and so when I spied this riff on a black forest cake in Julia Turshen’s new cookbook, Now & Again, I really couldn’t think about anything else until I made it.

folding the egg whites inready to bakebefore it sinks, from the ovenwith (slightly overwhipped) cream

We’ve talked about Julia Turshen before. This avocado-cucumber salad remains my favorite thing I’ve spied on the side of a plate on Instagram, ever; these merguez patties are still a weeknight favorite. I’ve always loved the way she assembles meals for friends and family. She so naturally answers the forever question, but what should I serve with it?, that when I learned her new book was built around collections of recipe that both work together but also new recipes to make with their leftovers, I couldn’t wait to dig in. The menus are fun and delightfully unpredictable — Red-Checked Tablecloth Late Saturday Lunch but also a No-Stress Thanksgiving — but my favorite, the one I’d like to believe was written just for me, the girl who loved going to steakhouses when she was a vegetarian because the sides are so good, is the Steak House Dinner for Vegetarians. Maple syrup old fashioned! Wedge salad! Stuffed mushrooms! Charred broccoli! Baked potatoes with horseradish and cheddar! And as a finale: this cake.

sunken black forest cake

Let’s be absolutely clear: this is not a traditional black forest cake. A black forest cake (the German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte), is a chocolate layer cake sandwiched with whipped cream and boozy cherries, finished with shaved chocolate and more cherries. It’s fancy. It’s complex. We’ll make one… one day. But this is for today, with everything good about the layer cake, abbreviated: a fudgy-centered, puffy-edged flourless chocolate cake that sinks in the center after it bakes. This space perfectly allows for a raft of barely sweetened whipped cream. And then, instead of imagining for a moment that anyone wishes to chase down sour cherries in October, she recommends using storebought cherry preserves and adding kirsh. I found several online; this was my favorite (it reminded me of Luxardo cocktail cherries) but there are plenty of other great ones out there. Honestly, the cake doesn’t “need” it — it works without the cherry sauce — but it’s so good, I do. Grownups need candy too.

sunken black forest cake


One year ago: Bakery-Style Butter Cookies
Two years ago: Winter Squash Pancakes with Crispy Sage and Brown Butter and Broken Pasta with Pork Ragu
Three years ago: Salted Peanut Butter Cookies, Baked Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Ragu and Twinkie Bundt
Four years ago: Carrot Cake with Cider and Olive Oil, Homemade Harissa, and Cauliflower Cheese
Five years ago: Apple Slab Pie and Potato and Broccoli Frittata
Six years ago:
Seven years ago: Homesick Texan Carnitas
Eight years ago: Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake and Spiced Applesauce Cake
Nine years ago: Apple Cider Doughnuts and Cauliflower with Almonds, Raisins and Capers
Ten years ago: Meatballs and Spaghetti and Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad and Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Eleven years ago: Pumpkin Butter and Pepita Granola and Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Twelve years ago: Easiest Baked Mac-and-Cheese

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Triple Coconut Cream Pie
1.5 Years Ago: Pistachio Cake
2.5 Years Ago: Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka, Perfect Garlic Bread and Shaved Asparagus Frittata
3.5 Years Ago: Obsessively Good Avocado Cucumber Salad and Strawberry Rhubarb Soda Syrup
4.5 Years Ago: Lamb Meatballs with Feta and Lemon

Sunken Black Forest Cake

This recipe is adapted from the flourless chocolate cake in the Buvette cookbook, a project Turshen worked on. However, in the Buvette, the recipe has more butter and sugar; in Turshen’s book, it has less. When I tested it, my happy place was in the middle — too little sugar and the cake was dry, too much and the sweetness of the preserves overwhelm — and that’s what I’ve shared below. The kirsh in the cherries both loosens them and gives them a little kick. If you don’t have it, try light rum. If you don’t use either, try a tablespoon each of lemon juice and water.

  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 12 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (2 cups), or chopped chocolate
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, distilled white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • To finish
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour or regular cherry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch (sour cherry brandy, optional)

Make the cake: Heat butter and chocolate together until about 75% melted in the microwave or over the lowest heat in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir until it’s finished melting and is smooth. Let it cool while you prepare the rest of the cake.

Heat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Set it aside.

Place egg whites in the bowl a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, in a large bowl and use a handheld electric mixer, or use a large whisk and a lot of elbow grease. Beat on medium-high speed until they’re foamy, then slowly pour in the lemon juice and half the sugar, continuing to beat until the egg whites are billowy and almost glossy and hold a soft peak. This is important: try not to overbeat them until they’re stiff and tight foam-looking; it leads to more dry cakes. Set the egg whites aside (if you only have one stand mixer bowl, scrape them into a separate bowl so you can use it again).

Place the egg yolks, remaining sugar, and salt into an empty bowl and beat on medium speed until thick and pale yellow, about 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, and mix well. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate cake batter to lighten in. Fold half the remaining egg whites in carefully, then the second half. Turshen says to fold them into the batter by “cutting your spatula downward through the middle of the bowl, scraping it along the bottom of the bowl, and then pulling the mixture back up… folding them with the batter.”

Transfer batter to prepared cake pan and smooth the surface. Bake until the center is puffed up, and just barely firm/dry to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few dry crumbs clinging to it, about 35 to 40 minutes. Try not to overbake it (the chocolate at the edges will smell toasty) or that cake can taste dry at the edges. Place the cake on a wire rack to cool completely; it will sink in the center.

To finish: Once cake is completely cool, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla together until medium peaks form (I overbeat mine, whoops). In a small bowl, combine combine the preserves and kirsh.

Use a knife to loose then edges of the cake from the pan and invert it onto your rack. Peel off parchment paper, then invert it back onto a serving plate. Spoon the whipped cream into the center and then the preserves mixture on top. Cut into wedges and serve.

Do ahead: Leftovers keep covered in the fridge for 3 days, however, if the cherry-cream appearance doesn’t look great after a couple hours, although this has no effect on taste. To avoid this, you can just put the cherries on as you’re serving the cake in slices.

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178 comments on sunken black forest cake

  1. SallyT

    I adore Julia Turshen – I’ve had great success with both of her books (Small Victories is a perennial favorite). In fact, I’d argue that both of you provide recipes that are foolproof and created with the idea of nurturing one’s self and loved ones.

    I wonder how this recipe compares to Richard Sax’s flourless cloud cake?

    (one typo: I don’t mean at perfunctory square of 72% and calling it a day should be: I don’t mean a perfunctory square of 72% and calling it a day.)

  2. Gretchen

    This looks great! And steakhouse vegetarian is one of our favorite meals. Quick question: the images have a springform pan, the recipe calls for a cake pan – does it matter?

    1. jerk nugget

      i also would like clarification on the best pan to use for baking this. my cake pans are “regular” ones and thus quite a bit shorter than a springform so i wouldn’t want it to overflow. (or maybe deb used a smaller diameter springform? either way, inquiring minds and chocolate cravings and all that…) :)

      1. deb

        Julia Turshen calls for a regular cake pan. I used a springform because I cannot read recipes. :) Either will work. If you have a springform, might as well use it.

      2. Kate

        Just made this in my “regular” short cake pan (maybe 1.5 inches high?). In fairness, it was an 8 inch pan as well, so I reduced things by 1/6 (i.e., 10 tbsp butter and 5 eggs). But, I made a collar to go around the pan out of parchment paper, which was a good idea, since the cake did rise a little above the natural edge of the pan and would’ve made a royal mess. So, perhaps the answer is that it’s absolutely do-able in a “regular” pan, but be careful.

    2. Nancy

      I made it in a regular pan and it was a mess. By the time I was done loosening the edges and inverting it the entire crusty top was in shards all over the counter. I threw it away. Definitely use a springform.

    1. deb

      Funny, someone else mentioned the Richard Sax cake, which seems a similar style. I got the Food52 Genius Desserts book after I made this, which is when I noticed it for the first time. I thought about making it and comparing, but I wasn’t unhappy with this cake (once I tweaked it) so I let it be. But I do think I might have to try it next and report back. For research and stuff.

      1. Nigella has a similar cake in Feast: the Chocolate Nest Cake, I think it’s called, which she fills with chocolate whipped cream and baby chocolate eggs and serves for Easter.

        1. Laura

          An annual Easter tradition for our family! My favorite flourless chocolate cake recipe. I’ll have to try this for the research as well!

  3. Brandi

    Thank you for a gluten-free chocolate cake! I have loved your red wine chocolate cake for years, and used to be a huge baker, but I can’t eat gluten or rice any more, which rules out a lot of deliciousness.

    I’m back in the saddle now! Thanks again!

    1. Grace V Van Horn

      In the interest of ensuring that as much red wine chocolate cake is eaten as possible, let me assure you, it bakes up *wonderfully* with gluten free flour! In fact, I’ve only ever made it that way (been gluten free for about 10 years). Better Batter, Cup4Cup, and Namaste all purpose blends all work wonderfully!

    2. Grace V Van Horn

      Oh no, I just saw your rice comment! Have you tried the Ancient Grains flour blend (which is also rice free)? I do think the cake is forgiving for alternative flours since it’s naturally dense and fudgy!

        1. Amy Karatz

          I’ve made a similar cake with (heavy) matzo meal, somewhat ground up with a mortar and pestle, and if a cake can survive matzo meal, it can be made with any flour. I’m sure yours
          would work here.

  4. hungrybruno

    If I was going to make this ahead (say, on Friday to serve on Saturday), could I make the cake ahead and keep it at room temp, then top with whipped cream and cherries before serving? Or should I keep the cake in the fridge even if it isn’t topped?

    1. deb

      I don’t think you need to keep it in the fridge if not topped, and agree it’s nicest to add the whipped cream and cherries before serving, or at least the cherries.

  5. Marcia

    Nigella Lawson’s Easter Egg Cake (and fallen chocolate cake) is also a riff on the Richard Sax Recipe. It’s my Husband’s favorite cake. Try them all in the interest of science.

  6. It’s time for me to come out. I don’t actually cook. (But I’m going to start Real Soon Now, because so many things here sound sooo good.)

    Even more than the delicious-sounding food, I get chuckle-y and happy just reading your wonderful wiriting, Deb.


  7. So Deb, my boyfriend doesn’t eat chocolate, can I substitute canned salmon? And can this be made in an Instapot? And what if I’m allergic to dairy/cherries/butter? Can I make this in a muffin tin?



    1. deb


      My secret is, not that anyone asked: Comments/questions don’t bother me at all. They are literally the only thing in the world I am zen about it. Too bad I can’t bottle it when I stub my toe or… have to go somewhere without having coffee first.

  8. Caroline

    Hi Deb, this looks really yummy – I’m bookmarking for Passover! But I never bake fresh desserts for Passover (too much food cooking to do!) so I always bake the week before and freeze. Do you think this cake would freeze well? And would you freeze it without the topping and then add the cream once the cake is defrosted? (I’m going to skip the cherries, they’re not my thing.) Thanks!

    1. Merryl

      Have done a similar cake for Passover and it froze quite well. Than only the “whipped cream” and cherries have to be added at the last minute.

  9. TinaD

    Allow me to sycophant about the place today: there are days when your posts convince me that we must be twins, secretly separated at birth (except, you know, I’m from the opposite end of the country and a decade older, so there’s that…) I love everything about Black Forest cake generally (so boozy, so 70s, and cherries!) except the making of it (layers, and piping, and general tediousness!) This is so going on my list of Christmas bakes. Thanks for all the recipe testing you do for us.

  10. Helena

    I hate to be that person, but we don’t really like cherries (well fresh, yes, not in desserts). Would strawberry preserves work and would I use kirsh or light rum? Thanks!

    1. deb

      I don’t see why you couldn’t use another type of preserves you prefer. Personally, I’d think kirsh would go better with a berry preserve but mentioned the light rum as an alternative because Julia Turshen did.

  11. Just two weeks ago I was looking for the perfect Black Forest Cherry Cake recipe to make for an International Night for one of my kids. I improvised, because I didn’t have time to do a full on recipe. But I used too much whipped cream and the top layer slid off in transit. Not that any of the Boy Scouts cared. But ever since, I’ve wanted to make it again. Well. And adult friendly. This looks divine. I now need an excuse for cake!!

  12. Adam

    Hey, what a beautiful looking cake! I plan to make it this weekend. I just wondered about cherry preserves, I am in Australia and just trying to figure out what to use. Did you use something like Luxardo/Amarena cherries (which are very sweet) or the sour cherries in a jar which are more pickled and less sweet? Many thanks for your help. Adam

    1. deb

      Not as sweet as Luxardo but it was a sweet kind of loose jam. The alcohol cuts the sweetness, as does having a barely sweetened cream underneath and a not-excessively-sweet cake.

  13. Amy Karatz

    Hi Deb,
    I can’t wait to make this. I much prefer the idea of layering the cherries instead of incorporating them in layers. The ‘real’ Black Forest Cake always looks overwhelming — not the making of it, the eating of it!

    I noticed you used a dark springform. I’ve had ‘cooking too fast’ trouble with dark pans. I did a bit of research and found that that problem is commonplace, so I gave them away. Have you ever had that problem?

    One note–I so enjoy your writing, but was stopped a few times when reading this recipe. It needs a bit of editing, all the way to the end.

    Thanks for another great Thanksgiving dessert,

  14. Jesse

    I’m so excited for this recipe!! I love black forest cake but have been too lazy to attempt it at home. Trader Joe’s carries both preserved Amarena and Morello Cherries (both are in syrup). I’ve often seen them and wanted to use them in a recipe. This seems like a great chance!! Should I cook them down a bit? Which type of cherry would work better?

  15. Jennifer

    Leave it to Deb to post a dessert (I’m a lousy baker) featuring cherries, (which I despise) yet still manages to inspire me to attempt this cake asap. In Deb we trust….

  16. Stephanie

    This cake is delicious! My pan was a square springform pan. I used what I had. It was slightly larger so I cooked it less time than instructed and probably a minute too long. It is important not to overcook. Also, this cake gets better second day. It is amazing once it is cold. Could not find cherry preserves so I used a 4 berry blend. There was no kirsh, so I used light rum. Thank you, Smitten Kitchen! Another hit!!!

    1. mscoffee

      This was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Followed the instructions exactly and it turned out perfectly. The rich chocolate with the sour cherry preserves is an incredible combo.

      Thank you! Passover will never be the same :)

  17. I made this from Turshen’s book before you posted your version. My cake pan was a 9″ round with 2-1/2″ sides, sprayed with Baker’s Joy, parchmented, and sprayed again (as per Julia’s instructions). The cake rose almost 1/4″ above the pan but sank considerably when cooled. I had no spillage. I also used Bon Maman 4 Fruit Preserves, adding 2 tbsp of Chambord and a handful of crushed raspberries. The finished cake is not sweet at all and is almost too dry and crumbly. However, when you add the cream and the fruit, it is the right amount of everything. I’m eager to try your take.

      1. HR

        This cake is genius. It’s my son’s most requested birthday cake, and even this year, when he was away at college, he asked that I make it on his birthday 😊
        The recipe works perfectly as is, but over time I’ve tweaked it a bit. I like nigellas cloud cake recipe a bit better, and for the cherry part I make a compote with frozen cherries and red wine – superlative!

  18. I made this cake last night, and it was beautiful and delicious. Will definitely make it again. One comment: I had trouble getting the cake out of the regular cake pan, despite having sprayed it and using a parchment paper circle. So next time I will use a springform pan. Thanks, Deb.

  19. Mim

    Okay, this is a non-sequitur, but I just saw your second op-ed in the NYTimes. Does this mean you’ll have more future pieces? I enjoyed reading it and I agree. As much as I like a school bake sale, sometimes it feels like a holdover from another era when households were 1 income and all women were only expected to do work inside the home. Anyway, it was a good read which I encourage others to check out. You definitely got a range of comments. It was nice to break from the regular news articles. Congrats!

    1. Amy Karatz

      Thanks for the recommendation of Deb’s op ed! I loved it too–maybe there’s a non-cook book in your future!

      P.s. My trick for kids’ bakesales? A giant cookie mix from Sam’s Club/Costco. 5 dozen cookies in an hour–the kid loves you, the school loves you. Done.

    2. deb

      Thank you. There could be future pieces, I suppose! I pitched three ideas when they reached out to me and this is the second of them; not sure I feel strongly enough about the third right now.

      Lol, “range of comments.” :)

  20. Helen

    I made this in a springform and reduced the sugar to half a cup. It was easy to remove and the sugar level was to my taste. As the recipe directed, I only beat the eggs until very soft peaks formed, and I took it out as soon as there wasn’t liquid batter on the toothpick, and it was incredibly moist and quite light for a flourless cake, although very rich. I thought I could have easily at least doubled the amount of cherries on top, and will do that next time. Wonderful recipe.

  21. Morgan

    I made this for a babyshower this weekend, and it was great! I really have no suggestions- I didn’t use the cherry preserves, just whipped cream. I wonder if maybe it would be too sweet with a jam/jelly situation, but with just a slightly sweetened whipped cream it was great.

  22. Bridgit

    Trader Joe’s sells jarred Marello cherries that are my absolute go to for black forest cake. Inusually make my own cake, but this year was crazy, so my birthday dessert this year was an absolutely scrumptious chocolate sorbet topped with whipped cream, these cherries, and toasted almonds. I promise I didn’t complain that I didn’t have time to bake. I can hardly wait to make this.

  23. aussieketoqueen

    This was an absolutely beautiful recipe! I want to try and make this a Keto friendly recipe which might be tough, but I will link back to you if I do make it successful!

    1. Pearl Steinbrecher

      This cake is wonderful! I have made this cake twice. I am lactose intolerant, so in the cake I used Earthbalance instead of butter. The cake does not rise as much but still tastes delicious. I also replace the whip cream with coconut whip cream. A great cake to make dairy free. Thanks!

  24. This might be the dessert that convinces me to love cherries…but I’d love to try making it with a fruit that I *already* like! I saw that someone in the comments used preserves with crushed raspberries instead, which sounds lovely– any other berries/fruits you’d recommend to try for us cherry-averse, not-so-creative bakers?

  25. This cake looks delicious, and that’s awesome that it is flourless. I wonder if this can be adapted for Keto or THM by substituting the sugar with gentle sweet or Stevia type sweetner. Either way, can’t wait to try it.

    1. Also, although I’ve come across your recipes before, this is the first time I had the opportunity to read much of what you’ve written (gotta love breastfeeding through the night as an opportunity to catch up on reading!). I LOVE your writing style and your dry wit. I’ll be back :)

  26. hollybobbs

    My husband has recently had to change to a gluten free diet so this recipe will really come in handy when he wants a sweet treat! It looks delicious!

  27. Your cake looks absolutely amazing! Our family has always loved Black Forest Cake. We have made it at home and ordered for dessert at good restaurants. The combination of dark cherries, chocolate and whip cream is the reason why this recipe is so delicious!! Printing now too.

  28. ExplorerMomma

    My son loves black forest cake, even requested one for his birthday. For Christmas, I need some sugar-free desserts. Do you think this would work with a sugar substitute like Swerve or Lankato Monkfruit? Thank you.

  29. Melissa Lewis

    Looks delicious! My habit with freshly baked chocolate desserts is to eat them when hot. Is there a reason I shouldn’t with this cake in particular? Should I control myself (so hard!) and truly wait for it to cool?

    Edit note: “firm/dry to the dough” I’m assuming you meant to the touch?

    1. deb

      Lol, yes, to the touch. Will fix. Re, hot — you could, and put the whipped cream and cherries over a single slice (because you’ll eat it very soon) but if you put whipped cream over a whole warm cake, it will melt in as it cools.

  30. Oh my, this looks wonderful! I have friends over for dinner tomorrow – think I just found my dessert… love the fact it’s easy-ish to make too. Beginner’s question – can I substitute regular salt for kosher salt?


    PS your opening line made me laugh out loud – I can totally relate to my kids being 25% candy!

  31. Janessa

    This was amazing! I’ve typically messed up both the beating and folding in of egg whites but the directions were very clear and easy to follow. I made this for my father-in-law’s birthday and he loves raspberries, so I swapped the cherries for fresh raspberries that were somehow both delicious and reasonably priced in November.

  32. Jessica

    Making this for a birthday and the batter is lumpy. After asking google it appears I didn’t mix the batter well enough before folding in the egg whites? I’m going to cross my fingers and hope it turns out. Any advice for next time?

  33. Becky

    Made this twice tonight because stubborn. The egg yolk-chocolate-butter mixture was very thick, almost like a paste, and didn’t fold well with the whites resulting in a chunky batter. The second attempt baked up okay, but didn’t puff as much as the photo above. The interior of the cake is speckled from the chocolate “chunks” that didn’t mix in with the whites.

    What did I do wrong..? Over mix? Under mix? Would love some guidance. Thanks!

    1. Kat

      The same thing happened to me – I’m wondering if the yolks were still too cold, causing the melted butter/chocolate mixture to seize?

      1. Becky

        This is what I thought as well, but in my second try I used room temp eggs and had the same result. The cake was a little more brownie-like, but still loved by everyone who ate it.

    2. Jessica

      I had a similar experience. I ended up folding the egg white a bit more than I like. It worked though and although the batter was chunky, I do not think the flavor suffered in the end.

  34. Beth

    This was absolutely outrageous. And I used inferior ingredients because I didnt have time to go to the store and I had to throw this together for my BFF’s birthday lunch. We both had seconds and I’m pretty sure it good manners prevented third.

  35. lmanero2015

    Deb, I don’t know how to thank you for this recipe. Really! I made the cake last sunday for a family meal, and it was just amazing. If I hadn’t baked it myself, I would have thought it came directly from a pâtisserie. :D The only changes I made were to bring down the sugar to 130 grams, since we tend to like not so sweet confectionery, and to use raspberry jam, cause I didn’t have cherries at hand. IT WAS PERFECT. Thanks so much, all the best to you, and receive a big hug from Barcelona. xxx

  36. My MIL is requesting a chocolate cake for Thanksgiving, so I was thinking about making this, but instead of filling it with sour cherries, I made a cranberry sauce (similar to the filling for the cranberry pie, which reminds me of sour cherry pie:
    Does that sound crazy.

    Alternatively I was thinking heavenly chocolate cake roll, because it bills itself as light, which I think is needed post turkey dinner.

  37. Bekah

    I just made this cake for my friend’s birthday. It was AMAZING!! I love all your recipes, but this one is the best I’ve seen. I modified it a little bit by using luxardo maraschino cherries and syrup to make “cherry preserves” for the topping. SO GOOD!! Keep ’em coming!

  38. Novice

    Hello! Thanks for the beautiful recipe. I am an inexperienced baker. I’ve been baking this forever, way past the time noted and I can’t get a toothpick inserted in the center to come out “with just a few dry crumbs”. Is it okay for the center to be moist? It’s very gooey. Oven temp looks correct. What did I do wrong?

  39. Tina

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was delish!! Something odd happened with my cake batter – so super thick that it was basically impossible to fold in the egg whites. They were just mixed in, and the batter looked odd/chunky when I put it in the oven. Still don’t know what the problem was, but no matter – it was a yummy, dense, rich but not too sweet chocolate cake!

    Served the cream and cherries on the side, so I missed the stunning presentation, but it worked very well for leftovers (which I just polished off!)

  40. Carolyn

    I’d had my eye on this and finally made it for my birthday yesterday – I agree with other commenters who suggest using the springform pan, as mine was so delicate-looking after baking that I was too scared to try and invert it. I made some quick sour cherry jam (I’m a bit of a freak when sour cherries make their annual thirty-second appearance in the grocery store and buy enough to pit and freeze for the rest of the year) and served it alongside the cake with whipped cream, and it was perfect. Souffle-like in its texture, with fudgy chocolate flavor – and it was eagerly consumed by four out of four children to whom I served it!

  41. Aileen

    Planning on making this and Richard Sax’s Chocolate Cloud Cake on Food 52 over the next few weeks. That recipe has 4oz butter, 8oz chocolate, and 1 cup sugar, but otherwise same eggs and method. What would the essential difference between them be?

  42. Christina

    This is gorgeous! I am planning to make this Friday evening to serve Saturday – if I stick it in the fridge, would I be better off adding the whipped cream and cherries before serving, or will the whipped cream hold up OK on the cake in the fridge?

  43. Justin

    This was fabulous. Oddly it took about 15-20 minutes longer to bake than described, but came out great (sea level, temperature in oven verified by a 2nd thermometer).

    Seemed like a great dessert for Christmas eve…definitely a hit and really attractive for how little work goes into it.

  44. Katie

    Hey there! I made this for dessert for our family’s Christmas dinner and it was a hit! Everyone loved it. Very yummy. Thank you for the recipe.

  45. donna smith

    i ❤ this recipe. i made it for Christmas and it was an “ohh and ahh” moment when it came out. I knew it would be good when i “forgot” to call my niece in to lick the bowl and licked it myself. i used raspberry preserves due to a cherry avoidance. will definitely make again. (and again and again)

  46. Kate

    Would the base cake freeze well? Planning for a party and would like to get that part out of the way a few days early. Thanks

  47. Sharon Blaney

    I made this this year for the first time for a family Christmas eve dinner. It turned out to be quite the showpiece and delicious far beyond my expectations. Everyone raved about it. It’s one of those desserts one keeps going back to the kitchen and sneaking little slices out of. Will definitely be making this again. Thank you!

  48. Catherine

    I found this to have less depth of chocolate flavour then I expected. Guests adored the cherries and whipped cream on top and liked the cake texture being more sponge like than brownie.

  49. Lara

    Wow this is a really yummy rich cake and simple to make. I don’t know why I was surprised by the richness after witnessing all that chocolate being melted, almost like a baked ganache. Maybe it was the term flourless. I made my own quick cherry conserve using a little honey, as its cherry season here and it was just beautiful.

  50. Yolanda

    Question: I am planning ahead for Passover. All of your and Julia’s recipes that I’ve made are amazing, and I will probably make this cake many times before then. I was wondering though, for a dairy-free meal, what do you suggest for the whipped cream topping?

    1. Julie

      I often whip coconut cream as a dairy free substitute for whip cream. It doesn’t go quite as light and fluffy but it’s still delicious, and it has just a very light coconut flavour. Buy cans of coconut milk with the highest fat content you can find and that do not have any additives (they prevent the liquid from separating into coconut cream and coconut water). Refrigerate them overnight (or longer). Then whip as you would cream.

  51. Shannon

    My springform pan, ever-so-conveniently, has a heart shaped insert and I was looking for the perfect desert to fill it with (using Valentines day as an excuse), but will probably scale down the recipe just a bit because the insert is slightly smaller than the 9 inch perimeter. And, I have a half jar of Bonne Maman cherry preserves in my fridge, so this is extra serendipitous! Smitten Kitchen, there is a reason you are my kitchen Bible :) Thank you

  52. Lauren

    This was delicious, but you can’t use a standard 9×1.5″ round cake pan. Mine *almost* overflowed but didn’t–the batter puffed up along the sides and then when I tried to remove it after it cooled, the edges that had puffed over fell off. Looks ugly now, but tastes great. Deb, maybe edit the recipe to say you need to use a tall 9″ round cake pan or springform?

    That’s what I get for using a recipe manager and going just based on the recipe text rather than looking through all your pictures :)

    1. deb

      I always thought standard cake layer pans had 2″ sides, which is why I didn’t mention it. I’m sorry it caused trouble. Glad it still tasted great.

  53. Hillary Liss

    Do you think your sour cherry compote from 2008 would work as the cherry topping for this cake? I got some fresh sour cherries at the farmers market in Seattle, and I would love to use them in this recipe!

  54. Ok, I’m German and this recipe (like all of your recipes) looks fantastic. I have one teeny weeny recommendation: If you live near a Trader Joe’s, buy their Dark Morello Cherries in a jar and cook them up with a little bit of cornstarch instead of the conserve. They are perfectly tangy and a little bit sweet, and will feel less sludg-y and more fresh than a conserve or jam. Perfection! Grateful for the inspiration as always!

  55. Abigail Ochberg

    When beating the egg yolks, are we still using the whisk attachment or shifting to a beater?

    If whisking the egg whites by hand having them warmed up above room temp, place in a bowl and cover with hot water from the tap, it usually takes me less than two minutes to have peaks. This was quicker than with my immersion mixer/whisk.

    I discovered this when my immersion device broke and didn’t want to use my stand mixer. Now when ever I make pancakes, waffles,… I whisk my whites.

    I am going to have my husband attempt this version. For each of my decade birthdays, 50 tomorrow, my hubby has utterly failed at making this cake. The first failure lead to us starting to date. If he can succeed tomorrow I might try him with the traditional one in a decade.

    1. deb

      It’s not a clean swap in recipes, because there’s also (of course) cocoa butter and sugar in chopped chocolate. There are suggested equivalencies online, but I’d only use them if you’re limited in ingredients right now (understandably).

      1. I swapped them! I thought it was going to be quite awful. Online said to sub 1 oz chocolate for 3 oz cocoa/cacao. This turned out to be WAY too much, so I eyeballed it. Added more sugar and butter to the mix but the consistency was still like thick (really thick) icing or batter. I still persisted and added the chunks to the egg yolks, then added the egg whites AND IT TURNED OUT GREAT! It was for my colleague’s birthday and was a deviation from the layered version of BFC that I make him. He liked your versions with my modifications better than the traditional one. Win win!

  56. Rebecca

    Loved this cake! My mother-in-law (who has Celiac) especially liked that it wasn’t super dense as most flourless chocolate cakes are. All of the cherry preserves that I was finding in the store were chopped sweet cherry preserves and I was worried they would be too sweet, so I combined about 3/4 cup whole frozen tart cherries and 1/4 cup cherry preserves and cooked that down until it was pretty thick and it turned out great. The whipped cream even stayed really nicely overnight in the fridge! Definitely enjoying the leftovers.

  57. Una

    I think my springform pan was slightly larger than yours and I probly whipped the egg whites just a titch too long — the flavor was great, but the cake a bit dry and crumbly. Here in France I used creme fraiche, which I sweetened a little, and wild blueberry jam — worked great. Will try again with adjustments!

  58. Janie

    I just made it. I used a cake pan and during the inverting process have broke off. I had to have my son run out with a plate to salvage. I kind of stuck it back together. The cream and cherries hid the mess. It’s very delicate. Use a springform pan! I also had extra batter that I put in a pie plate and cooked with the other one. I would make again despite this with the right pan.

  59. T

    Hi Deb,

    You might not see this in time but I’ve got some Morello cherries in a jar. Would I need to sweeten them at all if I wanted to use them? I would think so based off your previous comment to the Australian, which I am also hence my confusion.

    And, FYI I’ll leave out the alcohol since I’m making it for a pregnant lady. Thank you!

  60. Mellissa Johnson

    Hi!! When I made the chocolate portion of the batter it seized up became very hard. It did not look like the batter in the picture. Any idea what I may have done wrong? Should I have mixed it more or possibly it was over mixed? Thanks!!

  61. Aubrey Thompson

    made this for my sister’s birthday yesterday and it turned out great. very easy fun glorified brownie-rich cake! I made strawberry compote to go on top as I couldn’t locate cherries that weren’t neon red. Delicious and will make again!

  62. I made this into a mini cake, because there are just two of us and the quarantine fifteen is giving me enough trouble squeezing into my pants as it is!

    A one-third batch was just enough to fill three 1-cup wide-mouth mason jars, which I baked for 25 mins.

    Served the cakes in the mason jars rather than trying to unmold – I know the whole desser-in-a-jar presentation is soooooo 10 years ago, but whatever. Soooo good!

  63. LN

    Hello Deb! Thank you for the lovely recipe — always nice to have a Passover treat. So I made this as written except I used unsweetened chocolate because that’s all I had and I like my chocolate sweets on the less sweet side anyway. It didn’t puff much in the oven and therefore didn’t sink much upon cooling. It ended up about an inch tall and dense. It turned out well flavorwise but it was dry and crumbly. I didn’t over mix the egg whites but I’m wondering if I didn’t do the folding correctly? I folded in each third instead of vigorously mixing in the first third and folding in the second two like I have done on other recipes. So it wasn’t well mixed by the end. I took it out after about 35 min. Any thoughts?

    1. deb

      I wonder if it was just done sooner. It’s already a bit low on sugar, so the unsweetened might have made it more dry, but that’s about all I can guess. Hope it at least tasted okay with the cream and cherries.

  64. Tea

    I made this by dividing the batter between 3 rings ranging in diameter from 4” to 6.” It still took 40 minutes to bake. The flavours and melt in your mouth cake makes this a winner. Separated into their components and replacing fresh whip cream with a can, this would be a great picnic dessert you assemble on-site. Thanks again, Deb! My kitchen crush on you knows no bounds.

  65. Elizabeth Bowen

    Is this a dense or light cake? I keep going back and forth on what I think it’s going to be. Prefer one that’s not so dense and brownie like. :/


  66. Maegan

    I made this for Christmas tonight! I couldn’t find kirsch brandy so I used cherry moonshine and it was DELICIOUS!! Thank you for this recipe!

  67. Jocelyn

    I made this on Christmas and cooked the cake in a 9×9 round pan. I buttered the pan well, and used parchment paper on the bottom. The cake WOULD NOT come out. I tried everything, and ended up with crumbs. It was super disappointing because I wanted to have a beautiful presentation for the holiday. It still tasted good, but nowhere near the same. This cake absolutely should be cooked in a springform pan, it will never come out of a round cake pan….

  68. I just now served this for my dad’s birthday. So yummy! I used lemon juice and water with the preserves. I also did not have my deep springform pan with me and I over filled the cake pan I had access to. So it looks overflowed a bit while baking. Looked a little rough, but tasted great!

    1. deb

      I definitely think so! I think the cherries, depending on which ones you use, can cut through the sweetness a bit. I’d definitely use unsweetened or barely sweeteend whipped cream.

  69. LML

    Ugh. Made this last night to a T, until I baked it at 375. I discovered the mistake around minute 30, pulled it from the oven nice and puffed, with a slight slick of chocolate on the toothpick.

    Left it overnight to cool and it has not sunk at all. I’ve yet to cut into it. Any tips for salvaging?

  70. Sarah

    I panicked after adding chocolate to the yolks because the mixture looked like it had seized. But I persisted and folded in the whites, and that smoothed out the batter texture. Baked in a 9-inch round springform. Tricky to pull off the parchment round and flip cake because it’s so delicate.

    I used jarred sour cherries, but strained the juice out, added sugar and reduced it to a syrup, added sour cherry liquor, then added the cherries back in and let them marinate for several hours. Used spray whipped cream because I took it to someone else’s home, this worked fine.

    You may want to wipe the knife with hot water for cleaner cuts. Taste is dark, rich and not too sweet. So rich you only need a tiny piece. Sour cherries really balance the richness of the cake.