The most decadent vegan black forest cake filled with fresh sweet cherries and a delicious dairy free whipped cream, and topped with a vegan ganache! You won’t believe this black forest cake is vegan!
If you love black forest cake, then you’re going to absolutely love this vegan version. In fact, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference! I actually based this recipe off of my grandma’s that she used to make my grandpa. My grandma is Italian, and my grandpa German, and they both appreciated celebrating each others’ cultures.
My twist: this Black Forest cake is completely dairy free and refined sugar free, and can be made gluten free as well! Yet with a thick layer of coconut whipped cream, fresh cherries, and a deliciously rich layer of vegan chocolate ganache, you’ll have everyone fooled with this cake 😉
What is a black forest gateau?
German Black forest gateau is another name for black forest cake, or in our case, a vegan chocolate cherry cake!
Black forest gateau actually originated in Germany, and is essentially layered chocolate cake soaked in cherries and kirsch, topped with whipped cream and ganache and more cherries!
However, we’re taking a spin on a traditional black forest gateau, and making it a vegan black forest cake!
We’re also nixing out the Kirschwasser so that this recipe is simple and you don’t have to stray down too many aisles searching for the right ingredients 😉 If you want to use Kirschwasser, I give the option, but I typically make my treats alcohol free (unless I’m cooking with wine…in which case, I channel my inner Ina lol).
The ingredient you’ll need for a vegan black forest gateau:
Just because this chocolate cake is vegan does NOT mean we need any fancy ingredients. Trust me, this cake is actually very straight forward. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flour: you can also use gluten free 1:1 baking flour here as well.
- Cacao Powder: we’re going for a rich vegan chocolate cake here, so we’re using a decent amount of cacao powder here! Always opt for cacao over cocoa- you’ll get a richer taste, and more health benefits to it!
- Unsweetened Applesauce: this replaces eggs in vegan baking.
- Dairy Free Yogurt: I used cashew yogurt, but you can also use a coconut based yogurt if you’re nut free.
- Coconut Sugar: you don’t need to make this cake refined sugar free, but it’s an option!
- Dairy Free Milk with Apple Cider Vinegar: the secret trick to making vegan buttermilk! Using buttermilk in cakes is crucial, and the same technique applies to vegan cake baking.
- Espresso water or coffee: this makes the chocolate SO rich. If you don’t want the caffeine, then you can use decaf!
- Coconut Whipped Cream: we’re making our coconut whipped cream from scratch.
- Vegan Chocolate Ganache: this is one of my favorite things to make. Vegan ganache is so easy and straight forward, you’ll love it!
- Cherries: well, it wouldn’t be a vegan chocolate cherry cake without the cherries! We’ll be using fresh cherries to make the cherry filling, but you can also use frozen cherries. See the notes section in the recipe card below.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we can begin to bake!
How to make a homemade vegan black forest cake
The only real trick to making a vegan black forest cake, or any black forest cake for that matter, is making sure that you’re chilling your cake in between frosting and topping, as the whipped cream will soften.
Whipped cream is a bit different to work with rather than a vegan buttercream. It’s much softer and not as sturdy, so chilling the cake in between frosts is crucial to ensure your cake doesn’t collapse and the whipped cream sets.
Follow the steps in order to making this black forest gateau, and you will be golden!
The cherry layer
The only thing to note here is that the cherries definitely need to be made about an hour beforehand so that they can cool before layering onto the cake!
Make sure that you have about 3 cups of pitted red cherries, some water, and arrowroot powder on the side to begin. Again, you can use frozen cherries if not in season.
Bring the cherries and the water to a boil in a large pot, and then reduce the heat and cover. Let the cherries cook with the water for about 12-15 minutes, and the sift in some arrowroot powder.
Give the cherries a swirl to make sure the arrowroot powder is evenly distributed and absorbed, then pour about 1/2 cup of the cherry water (this is the cherry reserve) in a cup for later, and store the rest of the cherries in the fridge for about 1-2 hours until cool.
Vegan Chocolate Cake
For the chocolate cake, it’s essentially my vegan chocolate cake recipe, soaked in cherry reserve (or kirsch if you’d like!).
- Whisk together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and coconut sugar, then set this bowl aside.
- In another bowl, mix together the applesauce, vegan “buttermilk,” dairy free yogurt, coffee, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix everything until it’s just combined, being careful not to over mix.
- Pour the chocolate cake batter evenly into three 8″ cake pans that are greased with either coconut or olive oil. Bake then let the cakes cool, level them out with a knife (this helps for making sure the cake doesn’t tip when it’s stacked!) and then pour about 1/4 cup of the cherry reserve onto the tops of each of the cakes to soak in.
Let the cakes cool completely before you begin making the coconut whipped cream!
Coconut Whipped Cream
Now for this layer, you have two options: you can go with either a completely Paleo vegan version (that is refined sugar free) or a vegan version (that include organic powdered sugar).
If you prefer your cakes on the sweeter side, go with the regular powdered sugar! If you’re keeping this vegan chocolate cherry cake completely refined sugar free, use the Paleo vegan version. You can also use frozen coconut whipped topping.
Vegan Chocolate Ganache
Vegan ganache is actually a lot easier than you think, but it will always give that more sleek and professional feel.
Simply separate the vegan butter and the chocolate into two separate heat-safe bowls. Microwave the butter until it completely melts and then pour it over the chocolate.
Continue to stir until all of the chocolate is melted and keep it near the stove or the oven to keep warm.
Assembling a Black Forest Cake
Place the first chocolate layer on a cake stand or cake dish.
Add on the coconut whipped cream, followed by the cooked cherries. Place the second layer of cake on top and then smear the chocolate ganache on top using a spoon to lightly push it over the edges.
Then place your almost finished vegan black forest cake into the fridge for 5 minutes to allow the ganache to set. Remove from the fridge and finish with fresh cherries!
Final baking tips and tricks:
Spoon & level your flour. This will ensure that you don’t use too much flour, which will lead to a gummy cake texture.
Ensure that all ingredients are at room temperature. Again, using ingredients with varying temperatures will yield a gummy cake texture.
Chill your cake in between frosting with the coconut whipped cream. This is because the coconut whipped cream is not as sturdy as buttercream. It’s also crucial that your cakes are COMPLETELY COOLED before frosting!
Make this into a 6″ layer cake or 8″ layer cake. I’ve baked this black forest cake as a two layer 8″ cake, a three layer 6″ cake, and a three layer 8″ cake (pictured).
Use any type of dairy free yogurt: if you’re soy free and nut free, I recommend coconut, which also goes well with the coconut whipped cream.
If you don’t have coconut sugar, not a problem: you can use regular granulated sugar as well!
Swap in gluten free 1:1 flour if needed for gluten free.
Add in the cherry Kirschwasser if you want more of a traditional Black Forest Cake. However, since I don’t drink alcohol really, I choose to make the non-alcoholic version.
This cake honestly brings me straight back to memories with my papa, so I just adore this healthier version of a homemade black forest cake! I hope you do as well 🙂
I was personally shocked at how moist and decadent and yet rich this chocolate cake was, especially for being vegan! It took all of my will not to go blab and ruin the surprise on Instagram stories!
Make sure to leave a comment down below, as well as a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ so that others may find this recipe!
Happy cake baking 🙂
More Healthy Vegan Cake Recipes:
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The most decadent vegan black forest cake filled with sweet cherries and a coconut whipped cream, and topped with a dairy free ganache! You won’t believe this black forest cake is vegan!
Vegan Chocolate Cake:
- 3 cups spoon and leveled organic flour, sifted *see note for gluten free option
- 1 cup cacao powder
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
- 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dairy free yogurt, room temperature
- 1 cup coffee or 1 cup water with 1 tbsp dissolvable espresso
- 1/2 cup cherry reserve from cherry layer
- Optional: 4 tbsp Kirschwasser
- 3 cups pitted cherries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
Coconut Whipped Cream:
- 2 cans coconut cream, only using the cream (separated from the water)
- 2 cups powdered organic sugar or 1/2 cup coconut flour + 1/2 cup maple syrup*
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegan butter (I recommend Miyoko’s)
- 6 ounces dark chocolate
- Place pitted cherries and water into a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes.
- Stir in arrowroot powder and save about 1/2 cup of the cherry reserve for the chocolate cake.
- Place the cherries into the fridge.
- Let the cherries cool for 1-2 hours before making the cake.
Vegan Chocolate Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease three 8″ cake pans with coconut or olive oil and parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cacao powder, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, and coconut sugar. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, vegan “buttermilk” (coconut milk + apple cider vinegar), coffee, vanilla, and dairy free yogurt.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix until there are no more dry streaks, being careful not to over mix.
- Pour the cake batter into each pan evenly and place into the oven to bake. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Once you do, place the cakes onto a cooling rack or plate, and level the tops of the cake if needed.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of cherry reserve on top of each cake to soak. If you’d like to add in Kirschwasser, you can add in 4 tbsp of Kirschwasser into the cherry reserve.
- Once the cakes have completely cooled, begin to prepare the coconut whipped cream frosting.
Coconut Whipped Cream:
- In a large bowl, add in the coconut cream only and beat on medium until it begins to thicken.
- Add in the vanilla extract with either the powdered sugar or the coconut flour with maple syrup and beat again until fluffy.
- Store in the fridge until you’re ready to frost and prepare the cake.
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat the vegan butter for 45 seconds-1 minute, until hot.
- Stir in the vegan chocolate chips until completely melted in the butter.
- Now you can prepare the cake!
Assembling the Black Forest Cake:
- Place 1 cake layer on the bottom and add the coconut whipped cream evenly all around. You can either use all of it or save some for topping on top.
- Pour the chilled cherries on top of the whipped cream and place the second cake layer on top. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Then repeat on top of the second layer, place the third on top. Refrigerate again for 15 minutes.
- Frost the rest of the cake.
- Drip the ganache on top of this layer and spread it around evenly so that it can slowly drip down the sides.
- Place the cake into the fridge for 5 minutes to let the ganache set.
- Remove the cake from the fridge and top with the remaining cherries, any leftover coconut whipped cream and fresh cherries!
Gluten Free: you can sub in a cup-for-cup gluten free blend. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking flour!
Refined sugar free: for the coconut whipped cream, the coconut flour + maple syrup option is for those who would prefer to keep this cake entirely refined sugar free! This method yields a slightly less fluffy whipped cream, but it still tastes amazing and works with the recipe.
Keywords: black forest cake, vegan black forest cake, black forest gateau, vegan black forest gateau