My friends’ birthdays are always an occasion to celebrate. Lucky for them, they never have to worry about buying a cake. My birthday gift to them is a cake (or other dessert) of their choosing. Marni was the latest friend to celebrate her birthday. Having moved to Vienna just a few weeks before, I wanted to make this an extra special birthday, giving her a warm welcome to our city. I sneakily contacted her husband and found out that her ultimate dessert was a Black Forest cake. I decided (as usual) to make a slight twist on the recipe and turned it into a Black Forest pie.
If we deconstruct the traditional Black Forest cake, we have multiple layers of chocolate cake with cherries and whipped cream between each cake layer, typically garnished with more whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate shavings.
To take the chocolate, cherries, and whipped cream elements and turn them into a pie, I started with a chocolate cookie crust. Into that I added a dense chocolate-cherry pudding, topped with cherry-flavored whipped cream, fresh cherry halves, and chocolate shavings. To flavor the pudding and whipped cream, I used kirschwasser, a Germanic cherry schnapps that gives a very adult cherry flavor to the dessert.
The pudding in this recipe is quite thick and sinfully rich. It is somewhere between a traditional chocolate pudding and a flourless chocolate cake. If you want a lighter consistency, use lower fat milk in the pudding recipe.
The pie was a huge hit and I’m sure this will only be the first of many happy birthdays for Marni here in Vienna.
This homage to the Black Forest cake is filled with a chocolate-cherry pudding. The richness of the pudding depends largely on the milkfat content of the milk used in the recipe. For a lighter pudding, use 1% or skim milk. For a rich, thick pudding, use 3% or whole milk.
- 6 tbsp (86 g) unsalted butter
- 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 30 chocolate cookies
- 2/3 (133 g) cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (28 g) cornstarch
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 cups (473 ml) 3% milk
- 1/2 cup (183 ml) chilled heavy cream
- 6 oz. (170 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsp kirschwasser (or other cherry-flavored liquor)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (237 ml) chilled heavy cream
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 2 tsp kirschwasser (or other cherry-flavored liquor)
- fresh cherries
- chocolate shavings
- Grease a 9-inch pie plate with butter.
- Combine the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat.
- Finely grind the cookies in your food processor.
- Add the chocolate-butter mixture to the ground cookies and process until the cookie crumbs are moistened.
- Press the crumb mixture into the pie plate, using the flat bottom of a glass to pack the crumbs evenly along the bottom and sides of the plate.
- Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
- In a large saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt.
- Add the egg yolks to the dry ingredients and whisk until a thick paste forms.
- Slowly whisk in the milk, then the cream.
- Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens and boils (about 1 minute). Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Add the chopped chocolate to the mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in the kirschwasser and vanilla extract.
- Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Pour the pudding into the frozen crust. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
- Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of your mixer in the refrigerator.
- Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and kirschwasser in the chilled bowl of your mixer and beat on high until firm peaks form.
- Using a pastry bag with a large star tip, pipe stars of whipped cream around the circumference of the chilled pie. Pipe a large mound of whipped cream in the center of the pie.
- Halve the cherries and remove the pits and stems. Arrange a ring of cherry halves between the outer ring of whipped cream stars and the central whipped cream mound.
- Shave chocolate over top of the whipped cream on the pie.
- The pie can be served immediately or chilled for up to 8 hours.