Christmas Eve is a special occasion for our family. We decorate the house, light candles, serve charcuterie and Christmas ale, and eat an special meal that we’ve prepared together. At the end of the night, we somehow have room for dessert — my aunt’s rum cake, a yule log from our local bakery, or another homemade treat.
Since I will be moving away from home soon, traditions became much more important this year. I thought it’d be really special to make a German recipe for Christmas Eve to celebrate our German heritage. Ultimately it was a toss up between Black Forest Cake and German Chocolate Cake. After much discussion, Black Forest Cake won.
Last July, my parents sailed down the Rhine on a river cruise where they ate Black Forest Cake in the Black Forest itself. My dad loves German Chocolate Cake, so if he was insisting on Black Forest Cake, I knew that it must be good. And seeing as I’d never had it before anyway, I would finally have an excuse to try it too.
Black Forest Cake is a chocolate cake with layers of whipped cream frosting, cherries, Kirsch (cherry liqueur), and cherry juice. It’s then topped with more whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and cherries. There are a few steps in the recipe, but with a little time it can come out looking really pretty (this was my first cake!). This cake is a winner, and now I keep the recipe among all my other favorites.
The cake is moist from the cherry juice and Kirsch, and the whipped cream keeps it light and fluffy. The sour cherries offset the sweetness of the chocolate cake. The Kirsch was strongest on the day that we made it, but it toned down quite a bit after a few days. The Kirsch can also be substituted with more cherry juice if you prefer to keep it alcohol free.
I made the recipe with sour cherries, but I think that next time I’d like to try maraschino cherries to satisfy my sweet tooth. I might even use sour cherries with maraschino cherry juice, or vice versa. You can also use real cherries if they’re in season. The possibilities are endless.