Jordan: Let’s start by talking about what this cake is not. This cake is NOT made of beans.
Kitra: This cake does NOT taste like beans beans and nothing but beans.
This is all to say that we started our last Cake Day by trying to make a white bean cake, which we will not link because a) we don’t want you to even think about attempting it, and b) I kind of feel bad for it? Someone loved it! There was at least one enthusiastic comment! It’s not the cake’s fault that we thought it tasted like warm sweet bean dip.
It… kind of is though. It was a pile of beans trying to be something it had no right to be, and I resent it for that.
I think you mean “no right to beans.”
Anyway. Once we’d thrown out the bean cake, we felt like we ought to make something of the day (other than 150 groundhogs, which we cannot share here because it is Kitra’s one sacred secret recipe), so we turned to Julia Turshen.
I finally got a copy of Now & Again, and I love it so much. I read every word, cover to cover, and also I want to eat my way through the whole thing. (Not literally though, because paper is probably almost as hard to eat as solidified sweet bean mush.)
This is her take on a black forest cake, which checked a lot of the boxes we were looking for. Relatively simple! Gluten-free! Not too sweet! Kitra refused my modifications that would have made it a one-bowl process, which is probably for the best.
If we failed at two cakes in one day, we’d have to rename this blog “Meh Cake Trash.”
Fortunately, I listened to Kitra and this cake was not! trash!
AND, I had the brilliant idea to flavor the topping when our black cherry juice powder turned out to taste like pretty much nothing. While Jello is terrible in general (Watery! Gross texture! Slimy! Transparent in a way that is TROUBLING for a food! WATERY!), it is great for 2 things. 1.) Stabilizing whipped cream and 2.) Drinking hot like cocoa. Seriously. Try it.
(Let it be known that Kitra’s attitude toward all other forms of Jello is not endorsed by all members of the Yay Cake Day editorial board.)
I have some fancy cherries in my fridge right now, but let’s be honest, Jello is easier to find and it allows this topping to do two things at once. I will accept my Nobel prize now, thank you.
As for the cake itself, it is a very chocolatey chocolate cake. The phrase “not for the faint of heart” is overused in food writing, but seriously, start with a small piece and work your way up.
The whole situation is so cute, also. I love a cake that slouches, and it’s wearing a pink hat! What a good little cake!
This is a lovely cake for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, or to bring to the office for platonic Valentine’s Day, or to make for yourself and eat in small slices while binge-watching something on Netflix this weekend. Or just for a random day when you feel like you could use some cake.
Black Forest Cake
Adapted slightly from Now & Again
The original recipe says to use chocolate that is at least 60% cacao; we used Trader Joe’s Pound Plus dark chocolate, which is 72% and was a touch on the intense side. If you have a more intense chocolate like that, you might substitute a little bit of milk chocolate or add another tablespoon or so of sugar.
- 6 tablespoons (140g) butter
- 1¾ cups (315g) bittersweet/dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 6 eggs, separated
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2-4 tablespoons instant black cherry gelatin mix (like Jello), dry
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Maraschino, morello, or other jarred cherries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease the inside of the pan and the paper.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until both ingredients are mostly melted. Remove from microwave and continue stirring until totally smooth. Set aside to cool while you do the next few steps.
Using an electric mixer (stand or handheld), beat the egg whites on medium-high for about 30 seconds, just until they’re foamy. Leave the mixer running and gently pour in the lemon juice/vinegar or and ¼ cup (50g) of the sugar. Beat another two minutes or so, until the egg whites reach stiff peaks. (As the name suggests, when you pull the beater out the whites should stand upright like a tiny mountain.) Transfer egg whites to a separate bowl and set aside (or just get out a second bowl, if you’re using a hand mixer).
Without bothering to clean the mixer bowl, combine the egg yolks, ¼ cup (50g) sugar, and salt. Beat on medium-high for about a minute, until somewhat thickened and pale yellow. Leave the mixer running and slowly pour in the melted chocolate/butter mixture. Once combined, add one-third of the egg whites and mix on low. (This is a very thick, almost marshmallowy batter, so there’s no way to gently fold in this first portion.)
Use a rubber spatula to add the rest of the whites to the chocolate batter, one large scoop at a time, and fold them in by hand. At this stage, try to be pretty gentle so that you don’t lose all the air you whipped into the egg whites.
Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out free of batter. (Some crumbs are fine.) Cool completely in the pan before topping. Use part of this time to wash your beaters/bowl if you need to do so.
When you’re ready to top the cake, mix 2 tablespoons Jello mix with 1 tablespoon hot water. Stir until the powder is mostly dissolved and the mixture is quite thick, then set aside while you start the whipped cream.
Using an electric mixer (stand or handheld) whip the heavy cream until it is starting to come together but is still pretty soft–just shy of soft peaks is good. Add the Jello slurry and whip until it’s well-incorporated. Taste and add more powdered mix to your liking, up to 2 more tablespoons, and whip cream until fluffy but sturdy.