The original recipe I started with can be found here: Black Forest Cake. Yes, 72 hours preparation is not a gross over-statement. This isn’t yo’ Mamma’s instant cake mix!
Being that I have been dieting since April, I felt a need to make some substitutions, so that each slice did not contain the 1,021.4 calories of the original recipe. However, I did not want to fundamentally change the essence of the cake. Traditional Black Forest Cake is not the overly-sweet confection Americans think it is. As the author of the recipe states, “This cake isn’t meant to be very sweet but is rather a dessert for adults with deep rich flavours and enough alcohol to make your head spin!” Mine won’t make your head spin (I scaled back on the amount of alcohol significantly), but it also weighs in at a skinnier 796 calories per slice. Still not something you could eat every day, but I made this for a family gathering, so most of it is gone. I also had dental surgery yesterday, so I imagine the rest will be eaten before I can handle solid food again!
Here is the original ingredients, compared to what I used:
For the cake itself:
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour – didn’t change. I suppose one could use whole-wheat flour, but again, I was trying to create something that would taste as authentic as possible. I imagine this cake came into being at a time when counting calories, or the virtue of whole-wheat vs. refined flours was the least of anyone’s worries!
2/3 c cocoa powder – didn’t change.
1 1/2 tsp baking soda – didn’t change
1 tsp salt – didn’t change
1/2 c shortening – omitted. A half-cup of shortening contains 906 calories!
1 1/2 c sugar – substituted 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 c Splenda, and 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce. The applesauce not only adds sweetness, but it replaces the 1/2 c shortening, at a much better 49 calories! Almost any baking recipe can have the sugar cut by 1/3 without changing the taste or properties of the final product. I wanted to dial back the calories just a little more and used a sugar/Splenda mix.
2 eggs – used the equivalent amount of egg substitute, with a savings of 130 calories.
1 tsp vanilla – I always double the vanilla in any recipe, for what reason, I am not entirely sure.
1 1/2 c buttermilk – When substituting applesauce for sugar, one should always dial back the other liquid ingredients by 1/4 cup, so I used 1 1/4 c lowfat buttermilk.
The recipe for the filling and the icing, I did not fundamentally change, other than to double the espresso in the filling. The recipe says to marinate the cherries overnight in 1/2 c of kirsch, which I did. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough cherries to spread on both layers, so I drained them, and minced them in my Ninja Bullet. The cherries soaked up so much kirsch my filling was a little runny, so to fix that, I had to use more confectioner’s sugar. I ended up freezing a lot of excess filling. It will come in handy at Christmas-time!
I also found that the icing recipe called for too much liquid and too little dry ingredients. I only used 1 c whipping cream, and needed 1 c of confectioner’s sugar (as opposed to the 2 c whipping cream and 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar the recipe called for). At this point, I was out of confectioner’s sugar, and still needed to thicken-up the icing, so I added 2 Tbsp of cornstarch.
I did not use alcohol in the icing, as I was making this cake for the significant others’ Mom and sister, and did not want it to have an overly alcoholic flavor. However, I did soak the bottom layer of the cake in kirsch overnight. I used the kirsch I had drained off the cherries before I minced them. The cake soaked up the kirsch splendidly, yet did not become crumbly, like cakes sometimes tend to do when they are too moist. I was really pleased with that.
All in all, I was really pleased with the outcome of this recipe. I was concerned any of three things would happen with it: that 1, it would be too alcoholic-tasting, 2. it would be too sweet, or 3. it would fall apart. Fortunately, none of those things happened! By far, I do believe this is the best cake I have ever made. It was a perfect balance of fruit, coffee, sweet, and liqueur. This one definitely gets saved to the cookbook!