Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting combines a rich chocolate cake with cherries and a creamy buttercream frosting.

Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting with Five White Candles

When I decided to make this Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting during the season of Valentine’s Day, I certainly hoped that if you are looking for a fantastic cake for that day that you will consider this one, it’s worthy. But it’s also not just for one day!

While I do like to make something sweet and chocolatey that fits the theme of the event; I learned the hard way to not make a delicious dessert focused on one day. I did that one year for these Pots de Creme and they are really too wonderful to be ignored on the other 364 days. Never again I say!

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This may not look like your standard Black Forest Cake and there is one significant difference. Instead of combining a chocolate cake with layers of cherries with whipped cream, I’ve frosted it with a mascarpone cheese buttercream.

This cake is in the spirit of a Black Forest Cake and it has the same elegance but it also has more staying power. I made it for a friend’s 50th birthday recently, hence the 5 candles, and I needed to make it in the morning, transport it to her house, and have it still be perfect for after dinner.

That can be more difficult with whipped cream so I went the mascarpone cheese route and she thought is perfect! If you are not yet familiar with mascarpone cheese; it is similar to cream cheese. The difference is that it’s lighter, smoother, and with a less tangy flavor. It has become my preferred addition to frostings.

I love making cakes but that being said, I seldom do it many anymore. Not because I can’t find willing eaters but because I seem to make them complicated enough they are a full day job. As much fun as that is, I struggle finding the time. So I went into this with a game plan.

Chocolate cake I know and love? Check. Simple frosting combining mascarpone cheese and buttercream frosting? Check. Fresh cherries? Check. But uh oh…damn the ones I had planned to use were past their prime so first snafu required a trip to the grocery store. Doesn’t that always happen?

Top of Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

Still not that big of a deal. But then I realized I was also out of my favorite cherry jam but of course not before that trip to the market!

Luckily I had plenty of time and knew I could whip something together pretty quick so I still wasn’t deterred, I had all weekend to get it done and I would get on it first thing Saturday for sure.

Except…my friend Amy from across the street asked me if I wanted to join her and her mom for lunch. I have been so comfined for so long that a small gathering of three people sounded like heaven.

So I did it and I’m so glad. It was great to get together with a couple of other women and laugh and giggle and have a bit of fun.

I did get the cake layers made and in the freezer beforehand though so check and check. I was feeling pretty good about that, heck it meant I had all day Sunday to simply frost and put together a cake. Easy Peasy. Not exactly really. I’m a pill, that’s a full day job under the best of  circumstances!

Slice of Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting on White Plate

Ever had one of those days? The phone ringing off the hook, the constant doorbell interruptions, the missing ingredients…I won’t deny I was a bit stressed but I stayed on track and was good to go; I was not going to let a cake crack me!

Was it worth it? I have to admit, this is one fine cake. Chocolate and Cherry in a Black Forest Cake and the smooth richness of the mascarpone in the buttercream frosting kicked it up a notch.

I really love using mascarpone cheese in a frosting; it adds both a richness and depth of flavor without really making the frosting taste like cheese. I also think buttercream can be too sweet; blending it with mascarpone tones that down just enough to make it perfect.

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream Slice with Fresh Cherries on TopThe fresh cherries made it. It would be quicker with a jar of jam, but the results of the two were so worth it. The hint of both Amaretto and Kirsch was just enough. If you have to choose one or the other, that’s fine. And if you don’t want the ingredients to get too spendy; make sure you check the liquor store for the smaller bottles of liqueurs…they can be the perfect size for something you might not need for another use.

This was a smash; the birthday girl loved it, and yes, I did bring a bowl of whipped cream and we scooped some on top. I had hoped to bring a slice home but it was not to be…everyone clamored for seconds.

So…birthday, anniversary, or yes, Valentine’s Day, this is a special and delicious cake for any celebration.

If you love the Black Forest combination like I do, you might also try these Black Forest Ice Cream Sundaes; there were amazing!

PIN IT! ‘Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting’

Chocolate and Cherry Black Forest Cake with Cherries on Top
Chocolate and Cherry Black Forest Cake with Cherries on Top
Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting with Five White Candles

Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

Creative Culinary
Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting combines a rich chocolate cake with cherries and a creamy buttercream frosting.
4.86 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Cakes, Cupcakes & Cheesecake
Cuisine American
Servings 10 Servings
Calories 868 kcal


For the Cake

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter room temperature
  • 2 cups golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water See Notes
  • 12 oz fresh cherries with stems not pitted (optional)

For the Boozy Sweet Cherry Preserves

  • 1 cup of washed pitted and chopped sweet Bing or Rainier cherries
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 8 oz cherry jam
  • 2 Tbsp Amaretto or Cherry Heering

For the Mascarpone Buttercream

  • 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Amaretto
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp Milk or half and half as needed


Prepare the Cake Layers

  • Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray or spread with butter.
  • Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.
  • Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
  • Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.
  • Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment. Place wire rack atop each cake, invert again so top side is up.
  • Cool completely.

To Make the Cherry Preserves

  • Combine the cherries with the lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan.
  • Over medium heat, cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; the back of the spoon should be coated. If still too liquid, continue to cook over medium heat until a bit thicker.
  • Add the cherry preserves and the Amaretto or Cherry Heering and cook on medium for another minute. Cool in fridge.

To Make the Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and fluffy. Add mascarpone and mix to thoroughly incorporate.
  • Add confectioner’s sugar a cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Then add the amaretto and salt and mix until smooth. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
  • If buttercream seems too thick, add 1 tablespoon of milk or half and half at a time until the desired consistency.

To Assemble the Cake

  • Brush crumbs from cakes. Place one cake layer, top side up, on platter. Spoon 1 3/4 cups frosting on top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges.
  • Spread half of the cherry jam on top of the frosting; allowing about an inch of frosting on the outside edge.
  • Top with second layer, top side up. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake; use a straight edge knife or pastry tool to evenly remove frosting and let layers show through.
  • Spread more frosting on top of cake. Top with remaining cherry jam (I used a bit less than all of it to keep it from drizzling down the sides but that might be pretty too).
  • Top with fresh cherries with stems if desired.
  • Chill 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Finish with a dollop of whipping cream (optional)


I use Medaglia D'oro Instant Espresso Powder; available online and at some grocery stores.


Nutrition Facts
Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword Black Forest, cherries, Chocolate Cake, Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting
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  1. 5 stars
    Made this for a dear friend’s birthday who makes cakes as a business! Talk about intimidating!! Ishe said it was the best Black Forest cake she’s ever had. Slight variance in the recipe as I used Brandy as my liquor and coffee and buttermilk in the cake. But this frosting and cherry filling was stellar!!!

  2. 5 stars
    What a beautiful cake! The layers are just stunning. The similar cake you mention that the beginning of the post was my grandmother’s very favorite. She loved to pick it up for special occasions … or just because. I bet she would have loved this too! Happy five years of Progressive Eats!

    1. Thanks Sarah; it’s always fun to try something new and even more fun when it works, right? I’m not unlike your Grandmother but I simply wanted to try putting something together a bit differently, I love a Black Forest cake too! So glad your joined our motley crew!

    1. Thanks so much Carol; I literally finished 10 minutes before 1. Two neighbors I had never met came over for pieces since I noticed they had a birthday over the weekend, 2. Committee members showed up for a neighborhood events committee meeting, and 3. An assortment of their kids joined us since I’ve turned my basement into a playroom for the kids. I don’t thrive on chaos but I guess I managed it OK. 🙂

      The good news is that I wasn’t tempted to eat it all…by the time everyone left there was only one slice I saved for me! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve always loved the cherry and chocolate combination, but have to admit that I haven’t been as ambitious as you in combining them. With your inspiration though (not to mention the bottle of Amaretto in my cabinet), I just might find my way clear to this spectacular cake.

    1. Honestly, waiting til the last day made for chaos that I would not normally choose. Without it…this really is not that difficult of a concept and truthfully, SO delicious! Some days I wish I didn’t give it all away and this day was one of them. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    What a spectacular dessert, absolutely perfect for our soiree! I love chocolate and cherry together and this one is on my must make soon list – and adding mascarpone to the buttercream is genius! Can’t wait to give this a go!

    1. Thanks Jane! Adding mascarpone is something I do pretty regularly; it nicely combats the overly sweet flavor of the standard buttercream and adds both a richness and a bit of tang that can’t be beat.

    1. There were moments when hanging seemed about the perfect description. I’ve been called tenacious at times and I’m OK with that…sometimes it works to my advantage! 🙂

    1. Adventure sounds so much more fun than the words I might have used. But the end result was so worth it; my committee members now expect a cake EVERY TIME we get together here. 🙂

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