This week saw another birthday celebration in Elizabeth's Kitchen. I wanted to make something a little extra special for my significant other, seeing as how this was the first time in four years I've actually been home for his birthday. My weeks at Open University summer residential schools always seemed to coincide with his birthday, unfortunately. I could have planned it better, I suppose, but I was always really keen and wanted to register for the first week of the summer school to get it done and over with and give me more time to write up the final reports on our scientific findings. So, since I was home I wanted to make up for past neglect and abandonment and make an extraordinary cake for an extraordinary person. After much pondering about the logistics of making a Dairy Queen-esque multilayer ice cream cake with chocolate fudge sauce and crushed biscuit crumbs I decided to postpone the ice cream cake, perhaps for my own birthday later in the year as I've always wanted a Dairy Queen ice cream cake! For my UK readers, Dairy Queen is a North American ice cream/ fast food restaurant chain who make the most awesome ice cream cakes. I settled instead on my tried and tested rich chocolate cake recipe with whipped cream and fresh cherries. Except, I first stewed the fresh cherries in brandy and sugar and left them for a few days to develop in flavour. This is not strictly a true Black Forest cake in that it doesn't include Kirsch and it is not decorated with maraschino cherries, but it's my own improvisation using the ingredients I had on hand. You may have noticed the unusual shape of the cake edge in the photos. I thought I would use this opportunity to play with the new 'I Heart Cake' silicone cake mould I'd been sent by the lovely people at Mustard to review. I've recently fallen in love with silicone cake moulds after amassing quite a collection of them as a gift from someone who knew I liked to bake, so when I was approached by Mustard about this mould I simply had to say yes please! The unique shape of the cake mould means that you can cut your cake into six heart shaped slices, sharing them, should you desire, with six people you might love. The cake mould itself is quite large, nearly 10 inches in diameter, meaning that if you make a three layer cake like I did those slices are going to be hearty indeed! That is fine for those with an appetite to match but I think this mould might be more suited to a thinner cake recipe which could be served in larger sized heart-shaped slices. I will be experimenting again, as the children were very disappointed they didn't get a heart shaped slice of Daddy's birthday cake! Also, as it is a large mould I'd recommend placing it on a baking sheet before baking, so it doesn't crack when you take it out of the oven. All in all I'm really happy with the mould and I am looking forward to playing with it further. I have shared this recipe with Tea Time Treats, a food blogging challenge co-hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked. This month Karen has challenged to share our tea time treat creations made using fresh fruit. This recipe is made using fresh cherries and the chocolate cake recipe is one I often make for birthdays and celebrations, a recipe I have adapted from one found in Reader's Digest The Cook's Scrapbook (1995). It last appeared on my blog as a Halo Reach birthday cake for our teenage son. I also shared a good portion of this cake with my fellow RNLI lifeboatmen, much to their delight, during our evening first aid training course (with permission, of course. It was a large cake and needed eating up before the cream went off). Is that a terrible thing to do with one's partner's birthday cake? I did bring home the leftovers! :) print recipe Black Forest Cake by Elizabeth Decadent and rich; layers of dense chocolate cake sandwiched together with sweetened whipped cream and brandied cherries. The perfect grown-up celebration cake. Ingredients Brandied Cherries 250 grams fresh cherries, de-stalked and pitted 75 grams granulated sugar 50 ml brandy Wicked Chocolate Cake 275 grams plain flour 1 1/2 bicarbonate of soda 175 grams caster sugar 150 grams dark muscovado sugar 225 ml water 60 grams cocoa powder 115 grams unsalted butter 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp distilled malt vinegar 150 ml single cream 2 large eggs, beaten Whipped Cream 450 ml whipping cream 2 tbsp icing sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla extract Chocolate Bark 150 grams dark chocolate (>80% cocoa solids) Instructions For the Brandied Cherries 1. Place cherries, sugar and brandy in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.2. Simmer gently for ten minutes, until the cherries are softened but still slightly firm.3. Remove from heat and transfer into a sterilized bottle.4. Store in the refrigerator for a few days to allow the flavours to develop. For the Wicked Chocolate Cake 1. Preheat oven to 190 C. Grease and line two 9 inch round cake tins (or one I Love Cake mould.2. Sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugars.3. Heat water, cocoa powder and butter in a small saucepan until the butter melts. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.4. Stir vinegar into the single cream.5. Add cocoa mixture, cream and beaten eggs to the dry ingredients, stirring well.6. Spoon into the prepared tins, dividing the mixture equally.7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (round tins) or 35 minutes in the I Love Cake mould, until cakes are springy and firm to the touch. 8. If using the round tins, transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. If using the I Love Cake mould leave the cake in the mould until completely cold before removing. For the Whipped Cream 1. Whip cream with the icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Keep in the refrigerator until needed. For the Chocolate Bark 1. Break the chocolate and place into a heat proof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow to melt.2. Pour melted and slightly cooled chocolate onto a marble slab or piece of grease proof paper and leave to cool.3. When cold and hardened, use a knife or cheese slice to scrape curls/bark off the top. This takes some practise, but persevere, you'll get there. To Assemble 1. If using round cakes, slice each cake in half lengthwise. If using the cake mould, slice the cake into three.2. Sprinkle approximately two tablespoonfuls of the cherry brandy syrup over each layer.3. Coarsely chop the cherries, reserving some for the decoration on top.4. Place a layer of chocolate cake on a cake stand and spread with enough whipping cream to cover. Sprinkle with one-third to half the cherries, depending on how many layers you have. Repeat, finishing with a layer of whipping cream on the top. Garnish with chocolate shavings and cherries. Details Prep time: 2 hour Cook time: 40 mins Total time: 2 hour 40 mins Yield: Serves 12, generously! I've also shared this post with the Alphabakes food blogging challenge co-hosted by Caroline of Caroline Makes and The More Than Occasional Baker. This month Caroline has challenged us to bake something involving the letter F, and this Black Forest Cake certainly fits that bill!