So delicious and rich, this vegan black forest cake is made by combining layers of dark chocolate cake with a sweet cherry filling and coconut whipped cream. Perfect for birthday parties, Christmas or for any occasion where you need a gorgeous yummy cake! This version is 100% dairy-free, egg-free and plant-based.
Oh, I'm so glad you are here!
This stunning vegan black forest cake is absolutely delicious, so pretty and very festive too. Right on time for Christmas that's coming up soon 😉.
It might be the most amazing cake I have ever made!
And I love the flashy fancy look it has, but actually, this cake is much easier to make than it seems.
It is a German cake that combines a chocolate sponge cake, a sweet cherry filling and vegan whipped cream. You can make the whipped cream from scratch or buy it already done, so this cake is even easier to prepare. Also, the traditional black forest cake includes Kirsch, which is an alcoholic cherry liquor. I didn't use any as I knew my kids would totally devour this cake, but feel-free to add some (see variations below).
The cherry filling is just perfectly sweet and so gooey it turns the fluffy dark chocolate cake into a melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Really, the cake becomes super moist as it soaks up the yummy cherry syrup, omg it is so amazing.
As a side note, this cake does make for a vegan treat that's perfect to serve for Christmas to impress non-vegan guests. I grabbed the store-bought whipped cream opposed to making it myself not only to make it easier, but also to improve the stability of the cake. I also used brown sugar to make the cake as fluffy and spongy as possible, even if made completely egg-free. This was a success!
I also looked at many other version of this vegan chocolate cherry cake to make your cake-making experience as easy, fun and fail-proof as possible for you. I want it to come out perfect even if it is the first time you make it! So be sure to read all my baking tips below and to watch the video!
Hope you have fun baking and enjoy your well deserved treat ❤️
Highlights of this recipe
- It combines a chocolate cake + cherry filling + dairy-free whipped cream
- This is a no butter, no cream, no milk recipe. All made vegan, eggless and plant-based, but you won't be able to tell!
- Perfect cake recipe for birthday parties, holiday season (especially for Christmas) or anytime you feel very festive and just want a cake! Just freeze the leftovers for another day.
- Very creamy and moist cake with dark chocolate flavors
Ingredients you'll need
Chocolate cake layer
- Flour: I used all-purpose flour to make it and haven't tried using other flour.
- Raw cacao powder: for best flavor and higher content in antioxidants, use the real raw cacao powder and avoid cocoa powder! But, if cocoa powder is all you have, that will work too.
- Light brown sugar: I do not recommend swapping this ingredients as I haven't tried any other sweetener. I love the flavor of light brown sugar although regular dark brown sugar should work too.
- Baking powder and baking soda: leveling agents. The baking soda reacts with the lemon juice to fluff the cake nicely.
- Plant-based milk: use your favorite, they should all work fine. Aim for an unsweetened milk though. I used the plant milk from the brand Not Milk.
- Lemon juice: combined with the plant-based milk, it acts like a classic buttermilk!
- Coconut oil: use refined to avoid any coconut flavor. This is the preferred oil for this recipe, I haven’t tried any other kind of oil!
- Vanilla extract: deepens the sweet chocolate flavor.
- Frozen cherries: using frozen cherries really is best compared to fresh fruits as it turns the filling saucy with a perfect consistency when combined with the cornstarch.
- Maple syrup: used to sweeten the cherry filling.
- Cornstarch: will thicken the cherry filling so it holds better in between the chocolate cake layers.
Vegan whipped cream
There are a few options for the whipped cream you can choose from:
- Make your own whipped cream from scratch if you want. In that case, I would recommend making a coconut whipped cream (you can follow this recipe and just omit the spices) and make double batch to be sure you have enough.
That being said, I went through a few other vegan black forest cake recipes and I noticed that the main complaint of readers was how the homemade cream was not holding well in between the cake layers and was making the whole cake fall apart. I wanted to avoid this, so I actually used store-bought whipped cream this time and it worked out so well.
- Store-bought whipped cream. I used the coconut whipped cream from the brand Reddi-Whip. It is not as healthy compared to homemade, but more stable and very convenient. There are other kinds and brands of vegan whipped cream you can use as well. They all have different consistencies that might change the look of your cake, but it should work fine!
How to make a vegan black forest cake
I recommend you plan ahead as the layers need to chill before building the cake. I'll usually start by making the cake batter and then prepare the cherry filling while the cakes are baking. Both the cake and cherry filling can cool down at the same time.
If you are making the whipped cream from scratch, then make it ahead so it has enough time to chill before building the cake too.
Also to get ready, pre-heat the oven to 350º and grease 3 non-stick circular 9 inches cake pans. Also, cut 3 circles of parchment paper to place at the bottom of each cake pan.
Make the chocolate cake
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, light brown sugar and salt. Stir to combine.
In another medium bowl, combine the milk with the lemon juice, stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, add the melted coconut oil and vanilla extract and stir.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is uniform.
Divide the chocolate batter in between the 3 cake pans and smooth their top surface with a spatula. Then, bake in the oven for 26-29 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on it!
Place the cakes out on the counter (still in the pan) and set them aside until they are completely cooled down.
Make the cherry filling
In a medium sauce pan, add the frozen cherries, water and maple syrup. Heat up while stirring once in a while to help the cherries thaw. Once the cherries are all soft, then let them simmer for about 10 minutes uncovered.
Meanwhile, add the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water to a small bowl or mug and stir until all dissolved. After the 10 minutes, then pour the cornstarch slurry over the simmering cherries and stir right away. It should thicken within a few seconds. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely (you can transfer to the fridge).
Build the black forest cake
Once the cakes and the cherry filling are COMPLETELY cooled down, then you can build the cake.
Gently unmold the cakes and also, I recommend to remove a thin layer on top of 2 of the cakes to help the filling stay in between the layers. This is optional, but can be helpful if your cakes have a prominent dome shape. Check out my quick video at 1:18 to see how I do it. I usually leave the top cake layer untouched.
Then, place one of the carved cake on a serving platter or large plate. Then, distribute some whipped cream all around the cake on the edge. You can do this easily if using a piping bag (for homemade whipped cream) or a pressured bottle (for store bought). Add about a third of the cherry filling in the middle and pat dry to even the filling. Add a little bit more of whipped cream over the cherry filling. Then, place a second cake over.
Repeat the same steps over the second cake: add a wall of whipped cream all around, cherry filling in the middle and some more whipped cream over the cherries. Then, place the third cake over (the one without the top carved).
Decorate the top cake layer as you wish with more whipped cream and the remaining of the cherries. Add some shaved chocolate (optional) as well.
Watch how to make it
- You can choose to sift the raw cacao powder when adding to the bowl if you want. I usually don't, but it can help have a smoother consistency on the chocolate cake batter.
- Do not forget to grease to cake pans and add the layer of parchment paper at the bottom. It makes it so helpful to unmold and make sure you don't end up with a mess!
- It is essential to CHILL the cakes and the cherry filling before building the cake. Place them in the fridge if necessary.
- I had enough of one can of 6 ounce of whipped cream, but I was pretty conservative on how much I added on each layers. You want to make sure you have some extra to decorate at the end. If you want a thicker whipped cream layer, then make sure to buy 2 cans or make more.
- My strategy to prevent the filling from squeezing out implicates making a "wall" with the whipped cream around the cakes first and then add the cherry filling towards the center. Also, removing the dome shape helped the filling stay in place instead of sliding on the sides.
- As mentioned above, the traditional black forest cake also includes Kirsch, which is an alcoholic cherry liquor (brandy). I didn’t use it because I was looking for a non-alcoholic version, but you can easily add some if you want! If you do so, simply add about 2 tablespoons to the cherry mixture while it is simmering or you can brush some over the chocolate cake to infuse it.
- There are different kind of frozen cherries you can find at the grocery store. I know Hannaford has a tart cherry version, but I prefer the sweet ones for this recipe. I used the sweet cherries that I found at Whole Foods. But, feel free to use any kind of cherries depending on your taste!
- You can easily add more chocolate flavor to your cake! You could add chocolate chips to the cake batter or even better, cover the cake with my vegan dark chocolate ganache! I would build the cake as directed. Then, wait before decorating over the third cake layer and cover the whole cake with the chocolate ganache (make double batch so you have enough). Then, decorate with the remaining whipped cream and cherry filling over the chocolate frosting.
This cake stores pretty well in the fridge for a few days.
The cherry filling will soak some more into the cake and the whipped cream tends to liquify a little bit as it rests, but it actually make the cake super moist and prevents it from drying out. Cover it well when storing and try to eat within a few days. We LOVED the leftovers!
- The whipped cream is squeezing out of the layers: this might happen if the cream isn't solid enough to hold on the weight of the cake. Don't panic! If this happens, simply use a butter knife or a large frosting spatula and spread the whipped cream all around the cake, just the same way that you would spread regular frosting around a cake. You can check on the internet, there are many black forest cakes made that way!
- My cherry filling is not thick enough: this might be because you didn't simmer the mixture long enough. In that case, add another 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon of water to a mug, whisk and then pour over the simmering cherry filling and see if this helps.
- My chocolate cakes have a big dome shape: this happens sometimes! Just watch my quick video to see how you can simply cut the top off and make it more even. Also check how I create a subtle concave shape for the 2 bottom cake layers to help them hold on the cherries filling so it does not squeeze out easily.
Yes absolutely! It freezes very well for up to 3-4 months. I recommend to pre-slice individual portions and store them in separate containers so you can grab and go one yummy treat at the time.
I haven’t tried it, so I am not sure how it would turn out, but I think you could use fresh fruits when they are in season. Pit them and slice them in half and cook them as directed. I would recommend to add a little more water so it gets saucy while they cook. You can check my video for a rough idea of the texture you are looking for.
Usually, you can swap the regular flour for a 1:1 gluten-free flour such as the one from the brand Bobs' Red Mill. The texture might be different, but it should work.
More vegan cake recipes you might like
- Vegan pineapple upside down cake
- Lemon blueberry mug cake
- Vegan banana mug cake
- Carrot cake cupcakes
- Frozen blueberry cheesecake
- Vegan chocolate orange cake
- Vegan brownie in a mug
- Lemon loaf with cashew glaze
- Vegan plum cake
I hope you like this vegan black forest cake as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Black Forest Cake
For the chocolate cake
- 3 cups plant-based milk
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
- ⅓ cup coconut oil - melted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp baking powder - (not teaspoon!)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
For the cherry filling
- 1½ pound frozen sweet cherries (24 oz or about 3 cups) - I used 1 package + a half of the 454 g. bag of sweet cherry
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp cornstarch (+ 2 tablespoons water)
To make the cake
- 6-12 oz vegan whipped cream - homemade or store bought, see notes below
- shredded or shaved dark chocolate - optional, to decorate
- kirsch (cherry liquor) - optional
Make the chocolate cakes
- Pre-heat the oven to 350º and grease 3 round cake pans of 9 inches each. Also, add a circular piece of parchment paper to the bottom of each cake pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, raw cacao powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the plant milk with the lemon juice and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then, add the melted coconut oil and vanilla extract.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to combine. Divide the batter equally in between the cakes pans and even their surface using a spatula.
- Bake in the oven for 26-29 minutes. All ovens are different, so watch carefully! The cake are done when a toothpick comes out clean. Once the cakes are done, let them completely cool down on the counter.
Make the cherry filling
- While the cakes are baking, make the cherry filling. In a medium sauce pan, add the frozen cherries, water and maple syrup. Heat over medium-high and stir often. The cherries will thaw and get saucy. Once the mixture comes to a boil, then let is simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch with the 2 tables spoon of water in a small bowl or mug. Once the cherries are done cooking, then pour the cornstarch slurry over the simmering cherries and stir right away. It should thicken very quickly within a few seconds. Remove from the heat and let the mixture completely cool down (you can transfer to the fridge).
Build the cake
- Once the cakes and cherry filling are cooled down, then you can build the cake.
- I recommend to slice the top off of 2 of the cakes (the 2 cakes that go at the bottom). You can watch my quick video to see how to do this, it is easy. Removing the dome shape can help the filling hold better, I even create a subtle concave shape to give more space to the filling and whipped cream so it does not squeeze out.
- Place a cake over a serving plate and then distribute some whipped cream all around the cake (like a wall). Then dollop about a third of the cherry filling in the middles up to the edge of the whipped cream. Add a little more whipped cream over the cherry and then place a second cake over.
- Repeat the filling step starting with a wall of whipped cream, then cherry filling in the center and more whipped cream over. Place the third cake over.
- If you wanted to add some Kirsch, then you can brush some of it over the chocolate cake before adding the whipped cream and cherries.
- Decorate the top of the cake with some more whipped cream and the remaining of the cherry filling. You can have some of the cherry filling fall on the side if you want a gooey look or keep it more neat. Add some shaved dark chocolate over and voila! Enjoy!
- I used store bough whipped cream for this cake. I wanted something convenient and a whipped cream that holds well within the layers. I used the coconut whipped cream from the brand Reddi-Wip. I used a 6 oz can, although I had just enough. If you wanted to add more whipped cream then what you see in my video and pictures, then get a second can. You can also make your own vegan coconut whipped cream from scratch if you prefer! In this recipe, simply omit the spices and make at least double batch to have enough.
- This cake stores pretty well in the fridge for a few days in an air-tight container. The cherry filling and whipped cream will soak through the cake as it rests, which keeps the cake gooey and moist. You can also freeze it!
- This cake is fairly easy to make, but still, I recommend to have a peak at my blog post where I share more tips and trouble shooting that might help you.