Recipe: Black Forest Chocolate Cake

“The cooking here is at once casual and ambitious, thanks to chef Ryan Ratino’s time spent in some cutting-edge kitchens—think minibar, for example,” state MICHELIN’s troop of anonymous inspectors of the fare at one-MICHELIN-starred Bresca on Washington, DC’s busy 14th Street, NW. 

Divided into menu categories including snacks, medium and large plates, and dessert, Ratino’s food is a reflection of Paris bistronomy with seasonal dishes like chicken boudin with spiced quince and chicken and foie gras jus, 21-day dry-aged Rohan duck à la presse and a foie gras cake pop for dessert. Another rotating dessert at Bresca is the Black Forest chocolate cake. 

Named after the cherry liquor found in Germany’s Black Forest region, this cake is typically composed of chocolate cake that has been soaked in kirsch and layered with whipped cream and cherries. Ratino’s deconstructed version features cherries that have been soaked in a combination of Luxardo, amaretto and kirsch liqueurs—here’s how to make it at home.

Black Forest Chocolate Cake

Courtesy of Executive Chef/Owner Ryan Ratino, Bresca, Washington, DC.

Yields 6 - 8


4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/5 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 whole eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup olive oil
Macerated cherries, recipe below
Whipped double cream, recipe below
2 tablespoons grated dark chocolate, for garnish


Preheat oven to 330˚F.

2. Mix all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt) and all wet ingredients (eggs, milk and olive oil) in separate bowls.

3. Place dry ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and turn mixer to low; slowly add wet ingredients until well-incorporated. Pour into a cake pan and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Once cooled, cut into cubes.

4. For assembly, place 2 or 3 pieces of cake on a plate and top with 5 or 6 macerated cherries, a dollop of whipped cream and garnish with grated dark chocolate.

Double Cream

2 cups heavy cream
One 6-ounce jar Devonshire double cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Whip all ingredients until medium peaks form; reserve over ice.

Macerated Cherries

3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup Luxardo liqueur
1/4 cup amaretto
1/4 cup Kirsch (can be substituted with any cherry brandy)
1 cup cherries, pitted


Place sugar and liqueurs in a saucepot and bring to a boil over medium heat, cooking off the alcohol for 1 minute. Pour over cherries and reserve in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Photo by Rey Lopez.

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