This week’s obsession: Black Forest Cake
Another week down, and we’re still in a global crisis. A friend of mine shared something on her IG story and I feel that it’s good to remind everyone of it:
"In case people haven’t realized it yet - the longer you don’t comply with social distancing, the longer we’re going to have to do it." #STAYHOME
Now that we got that out of the way, did you know that March 28 is National Black Forest Cake Day?? How cool is that! Probably not that cool if you don’t know what a Black Forest Cake is, so let’s start there. Black Forest Cake is a tower of deliciousness that is chocolate cake, cherries, whipped cream, and Kirschwasser - a cherry liqueur we used in a LOT of recipes during pastry school. If you know anything about restaurants and kitchens, you know that a three syllable word in a foreign language is bound to get shortened (it’s German, by the way, and it translates to cherry water), so from now on I’ll lovingly refer to it as Kirsch (KEERSH).
Here's a little history lesson for us all about why this is called a Black Forest Cake. First of all, this is a German confection (hence the Kirsch). Apparently there is a forest in the southwestern region of Germany where the forest is so dense that it looks black from a distance. One of the main crops grown in this region is cherries, so of course they will make an appearance in local dishes. There is also an argument that the women of the Black Forest region wear a traditional costume whose hat, called a Bollenhut, inspired the top layer of a traditional Black Forest Cake. (I totally see it.)
Typically, a Black Forest Cake is built in layers: chocolate cake brushed with Kirsch, fresh cherries reduced in Kirsch, and whipped cream. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Here’s the deal though - we’re in the middle of a shelter in place order and I didn’t want to go out searching for fresh cherries or Kirsch, so I changed a few things.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way - I didn’t make this in cake form. Don’t get me wrong, I would be delighted to eat this as a full cake, but really I’m still trying to not have too much junk food in the house during this quarantine (truth be told, I’ve actually lost a few pounds since all of this craziness has been happening this month. #mindblown). What I did instead was create a Black Forest Cake parfait. "Everybody loves parfait!" (NAME THAT MOVIE!!)
Usually when you stack a cake you trim off the domed part at the top of each cake layer to make it a flat, stable surface to stack your fillings/frostings/other cake layers on. I have several methods for keeping my cakes from doming, and most of them are pretty effective, but none are 100% perfect so I still trim off the tops of most of my cakes to achieve my desired flatness levels. Which is great for aesthetics, but what about all of that wasted cake?! Fortunately, cake freezes extremely well and I’ve kept some chocolate cake stored for a rainy day. Which I've deemed to be today.
Next I need to address the fact that I didn’t have any Kirsch on hand. I kinda feel like no self respecting French pastry chef should ever not have Kirsch (or at least should not admit it), but there it is. Given the state of society right now, I think booze is absolutely essential and I just couldn’t leave it out of my dessert today. I went shopping at my home bar and looked for bottles containing magic potions that will pair well with chocolate, cherries, and cream. Believe it or not, I stumbled upon a friar. Filled with a sumptuous hazelnut liqueur. Oh yeah, Friar Angelico came to the rescue. I soaked my maraschino cherries (since I don’t have access to fresh cherries, but would undoubtedly taste much better!) in this delicious hazelnut concoction, took a few sips, and sat down for a minute until I could remember what I was supposed to be doing…
When I recovered ;) I set to work with making my fresh whipped cream. If you read my Superbowl Foods blog entry back in January, you should be familiar with my love for crème Chantilly because it was my tip of the week in that post. To quote myself, “This deliciousness is made up of angel whispers and unicorn laughter, and should appear on all of your desserts that need a little oomph or fancy décor.“ I even posted a video of me piping it #Heavenly (Also the meme that I posted in that blog called “Can I Lick the Science” still cracks me up, but the response of the Epidemiology branch hits a little too close to home these days O.o) As I placed the cake and cherry layers in my lovely martini glasses, I piped a swirl of my fluffy crème Chantilly on top, then started over with another layer of cake and so on.
I was feeling a little fancy today, so I kicked this whole thing off by dipping my martini glasses in cherry juice and edging them with Rebellion Baking colored sprinkles (I call anything with purple in it Rebellion Baking colors). After I prepped the glasses I filmed myself building two of these fancy-schmancy Black Forest Cake parfaits for your viewing pleasure, and so you know that I really did pour the excess Frangelico that the cherries were soaking in onto the cake morsels for a level up on the flavor. This is the very first video that I've edited and have a long way to go. (If you are a video master, PLEASE drop me a line with some constructive criticism, and I'll be sure to repay the favor by bringing you some treats once the pandemic is over.)
Et voila, Black Forest Cake parfaits! I hope everyone is doing well, and that you’re reading this while you’re inside and away from other people. Just remember, the sooner that everyone complies with social distancing, the sooner we’ll be out of this mess (and for my friends nearby, the sooner I can start bringing these tasty concoctions to your door). Be safe my friends!
Happy eating, y’all!
P.S. If you guessed the movie quote from earlier, leave me a comment here or on my social media (links below). Bonus points to anyone who can answer it with a GIF!