Many thanks to Michelle Dill Poston, who requested this recipe!

It is not commonly know, but Black Forest Cake was not originally named for the Black Forest, but rather for the liquor that that region of the country produced, known in the US as Kirsch. Originally the dessert was made with whipped cream, liquor, and cookies, but over time it evolved into a truly spectacular confectionary chocolate cake, loaded with cherry preserves and mounded with whipped cream.

We think this version, which is super easy, made with our cake mix, and which gets a boost from Kirsch, is spectacular. You may, of course, omit the kirsch in the syrup and use a scratch cake recipe, as you prefer, following the instructions for assembly.

1 package Better Batter Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix, made as per directions, in two round pans
1 tablespoon Kirsch or vanilla extract

1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons Kirsch

2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries (you may use 2 lb fresh pitted black cherries instead. Be sure to stew on low heat until softened first, with 1/4 c water)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch, potato starch, or arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups ice cold heavy whipping cream or Ritch’s dairy-free whipping topping (available in most kosher sections)
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Chocolate Curls or shavings (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two or three 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed or parchment paper. The thickness of your layers will depend on how many layers of cake you desire.
Prepare Better Batter Chocolate Cake Mix as directed on the box, adding one tablespoon Kirsch or vanilla extract. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 15-35 minutes, depending on thickness of layers, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare syrup: Combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Kirsch. Allow to cool completely. You may want to place in the fridge to cool to speed this along.

Prepare Fillings:

Drain canned sour cherries or stew pitted cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch/potato starch/arrowroot powder in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
Combine very cold whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a well chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Best results are made in a cool environment where the cream is barely free of ice crystals (almost starting to freeze).
Reserve 1 1/2 cups Frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. With a pastry brush saturate the top of the cake layer well with Kirsch syrup, allowing to sink in for several minutes. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping.

Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of Kirsch, frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer, if using three layers.

Gently brush Kirsch syrup on sides of cake and place cake in fridge to set for a few minutes, or until all syrup is absorbed from surface of the cake. Frost side of cake with remaining cream frosting, reserving a third of remaining frosting for topping. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.

Top with chocolate curls or shavings if preferred, instead of cherry filling.

Serve immediately, well chilled.