Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting combines a rich chocolate cake with cherries and a creamy buttercream frosting.
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!
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?
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!
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.
The 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’
Black Forest Cake with Mascarpone Frosting
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)