A chocolate sponge cake is best, but you can use any chocolate cake recipe equal to two 9-inch round cakes
12 Maraschino cherries, with or without stems
8 Ouncess sweet or semi-sweet chocolate bars (about 46% cacao)
Cherry Brandy Syrup and Cherry Filling
1 Can (14 ounces) tart cherries
3/4 Cup (minus 1 tablespoon) Kirschwasser (Black Forest cherry brandy)
1 Cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
Stabilized Whipped Cream
1 Quart heavy or whipping cream
1 Cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon Kirsch
1 Packet unflavored gelatin
¼ Cup Water
Make the Cake. Traditionally, this recipe calls for a chocolate sponge cake as the base. But, since the highlights of a Black Forest Cake are the Kirsch and the presentation, to save time, you can use any chocolate cake recipe or even a cake mix. You will need enough to make two 9-inch round pans. Butter a 9-inch springform (cheesecake) pan with walls about three inches high. Put a disc of wax paper on the bottom of the pan and butter it. Flour the bottom and inside sides of the pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until done. Cool completely, and flip cake out of pan. Once cool, slice horizontally into three cake discs of approximately equal thickness.
Make the Accents. Select 12 maraschino cherries and let dry on a paper towel. Using a box grater or a potato peeler, shave the chocolate bar into curls. To help the chocolate to curl, you can warm the chocolate bar in the microwave for a few seconds. Reserve the best looking one-third of curls for decorating the top of the cake. Put the remaining chocolate into a small zip lock bag and microwave for about a minute and a half or until the chocolate is just melted. Snip off about 1/8th of an inch from the corner of the bag. On a sheet of wax paper pipe the melted chocolate into the shape of pine trees about 3 inches tall. Make a total of at least 12 pine trees. Don’t worry if they look like a kindergartner’s drawing of a Christmas tree.
Make the Cherry Brandy Syrup. Pour the canned cherries into a strainer placed on top of a sauce pan. Place cherries in a bowl with ¾ cup (minus one tablespoon) of Kirsch and soak for about 30 minutes. Add water to the saucepan with liquid from the canned cherries to bring the total amount of liquid to 1-1/4 cups. Add ¾ cup of the Sugar to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. When cool, strain the cherries again, set cherries aside, and add the brandy they were soaking in. Add their reserved liquid to the sauce pan. Stir and set aside.
Make the Cherry Filling. Put ½ cup of water, the remaining ¼ Cup Sugar, and the Corn Starch to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in the reserved cherries and cool.
Make the Stabilized Whipped Cream. Sprinkle a package of unflavored Gelatin atop a ¼ cup of cold water. Chill the mixing bowl and beaters so that the cream whips faster. After about 5 minutes, the gelatin will be mushy and resemble apple sauce. Microwave for about 10 seconds or until it becomes liquid. Set the liquid gelatin aside to cool. To a mixing bowl, add the cream, the Powdered Sugar, and 1 tablespoon of Kirsch. Beat on high until soft peaks form (when you pull up the beaters and the peaks fall
over). Add the gelatin and beat until stiff peaks form (when you pull up the beaters and the peaks hold their shape). Fill a gallon sized ziplocked bag with the whipped cream and snip off ½-inch at one corner of the bag. (In place of gelatin, you can use a commercial whipped cream stabilizer like “Whip It.”)
Assemble the Cake. Make one layer of the cake the base. Spoon onto it about a quarter of the cherry syrup. Pipe a circle of whipped cream atop the outside edge of the cake. Put half of the cherry filling into the center of the circle. Put the second cake layer atop the first and repeat the process. Top with the third layer of cake and pour atop the remaining one-half of the cherry syrup. Spread whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake completely covering it so that no cake is visible. Smooth the whipped cream on the top and sides. Pipe 12 decorative dollops of whipped cream atop the cake around the outside edge. Inside the circle of dollops, spread the chocolate curls. Atop each dollop, place one maraschino cherry. On the side of the cake, beneath each dollop, place one chocolate tree. Refrigerate for at least four hours. Serves 12.