Vegan Black Forest Cake

This vegan Black Forest cake features layers of chocolate cake, vegan whipped cream, and cherry sauce. It’s a sweet tart chocolate cake that is rich and chocolatey. It’s a feast of flavors for dessert!

A slice of vegan black forest cake sits on a plate in front of the rest of the cake.

I’m always looking for the best vegan cake recipes. I thought I found my favorite with the Vegan Red Velvet Cake. And trust me, it is still HIGH on my list of all-time best vegan cakes. But, this vegan black forest cake? Well, let’s just say it’s right up there!

If you love a moist chocolate cake simply loaded with flavor from cherry sauce and whipped cream, this will be your new favorite cake, too!

How to Make Vegan Black Forest Cake

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, from the flour to the salt.
  2. Stir together water, vinegar, vegetable oil, and coffee extract in a small bowl.
  3. Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
    A hand holds a pyrex dish full of liquid, pouring it into a bowl with a cocoa powder mixture.
  4. Stir until just combined.
    A hand holds a spatula, stirring cake batter in a bowl.
  5. Use a whisk to make sure no large clumps of flour are left in the batter.
    A hand holds a wire whisk, stirring chocolate cake batter in a bowl.
  6. Pour the batter equally into each of the prepared pans.
    A hand holds a bowl of chocolate cake batter, pouring it into a prepared round cake pan.
  7. Bake for around 25 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow baked cakes to cool slightly, then invert them onto wire racks to cool completely. 
  9. Prepare the cherry sauce.
  10. Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate. Top with a generous amount of cherry filling.
    Cherry sauce is being spread with a spatula over a single chocolate cake layer.
  11. Top with a large dollop of vegan whipped cream.
    A spatula drops a dollop of whipped cream over cherry sauce on a chocolate cake.
  12. Repeat with the remaining layers, finishing with whipped cream and fresh cherries on top.
A vegan Black Forest cake has fresh cherries on top. There's a bowl of cherry sauce in the background.

Key Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Sugar — We’ll be using granulated sugar for the cake.
  • Flour — I use all-purpose flour.
  • Cocoa powder — For this cake, we’ll use unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not dutch processed). We’re relying on the acidity of natural cocoa powder to react with the baking soda.
  • Baking soda — This is the main leavener in this cake. Make sure yours is fresh by testing it with a bit of vinegar. If it bubbles, your batch is good to go.
  • Apple cider vinegar — You can substitute plain vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Vegetable oil — Any neutral vegetable oil will work.
  • Coffee extract — If you don’t have coffee extract, you can substitute a teaspoon of instant coffee. This enhances the chocolate flavor in the cake.
  • Cherry Sauce — You can use canned cherry pie filling or make a simple cherry sauce at home.
  • Ganache — Use this vegan ganache recipe to drizzle over the top of the cake. This part is optional, but highly recommended.
  • Syrup — Stir a bit of syrup, like corn syrup, agave nectar, or vegan honey, into the ganache to make it shiny.
  • Vegan Whipped Cream — You have options when it comes to vegan whipped cream. You can buy a tub at many grocery stores and health food stores. If you want to make your own, you’ll need vegan whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
A closeup of a slice of easy Black Forest cake. A bite sits on a fork in front of the cake.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • PARTY FAVORITE — Got a birthday celebration coming up? This cake will be a hit!
  • MAKE-AHEAD FRIENDLY — You can make components of the cake ahead of time and assemble it lickity-split on the day of your event!
  • MAGICAL — This cake is so moist and delicious, it disappears like magic!

Frequently-Asked Questions

Is black forest cake vegan?

A traditional black forest cake is not vegan because it’s made with eggs and dairy. However, it’s unnecessary to use dairy or eggs to make a delicious cake. You can make your homemade black forest cake without eggs or dairy and enjoy!

Can you freeze black forest cake?

The black forest cake is freezer-friendly. Unless you have room in your freezer to freeze an entire cake, It’s probably easier to cut it into individual slices and freeze them in a freezer-safe container.

Make-Ahead Tips

At face value, this black forest vegan cake may seem daunting. But there are ways to keep it simple, such as making the individual components ahead. Here are my favorite time-saving tips:

  • Simple Cake — You’ll notice I’m using my chocolate wacky cake recipe as the foundation. That keeps the cake part of this recipe nice and easy to make!
  • Make the Cakes Ahead of Time — bake the cakes, remove from the pans as suggested in the recipe, and cool them completely. Then wrap them in plastic and refrigerate. You can even freeze the cakes for up to 2 months in freezer-safe plastic bags. (I always double wrap them in bags to prevent ice crystals from forming).
  • Cherry Sauce — Make the cherry sauce ahead of time or you can use storebought cherry pie filling if you’re in a hurry.
  • Whipped Cream — Use store-bought vegan whipped cream, which can be frozen for quite a long time.
  • Assembly — I prefer to make the chocolate ganache on the day I’m making the cake. Transfer the frozen cakes to the fridge the night before to thaw. Then follow the instructions below for assembling the cake layers.
  • Make the Entire Cake the Day Before — Another option is to make the cake the day before. I reserve the toppings (whipped cream and fresh cherries) to put on immediately before serving. Make sure to reserve plenty of space in your fridge!
Looking in on a black forest cake that has a slice cut out, showing the different layers.

Serving Suggestions

This dairy-free black forest cake is simply amazing as is. But if you’re looking to guild the lily, serve slices with some drizzles of tasty toppings, such as:

Storage Tips

Store the entire cake in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days. Individual slices can be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

This vegan black forest cake is absolutely amazing. Here are even more vegan chocolate cakes you’ll want to try:

A slice of vegan Black Forest cake sits on a plate.

Vegan Black Forest Cake

You will love this indulgent vegan black forest cake recipe. It's a rich, chocolatey cake topped with cherry sauce and whipped cream. Every bite delivers the perfect texture and flavors!
5 from 2 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 14 slices
Calories: 523kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar (you can use 1/2 granulated and 1/2 brown)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not dutch processed)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • cup vegetable oil (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon coffee extract (see notes)

Cherry Filling

  • 3 cups fresh cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons maraschino cherries juice (substitute cherry liqueur)

Chocolate Ganache

  • ½ cup plant-based creamer
  • 4 oz bar semi-sweet chocolate (dairy-free), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar (substitute maple syrup or light corn syrup)

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups vegan whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Chocolate Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Coat 3 round cake pans (8-inch works best) with vegetable cooking spray. Place the round parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. Spray papers with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside. 
  • Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, including sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Stir together water, vinegar, vegetable oil, and coffee extract in a small bowl. Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined. Use a whisk to make sure no large clumps of flour are left in the batter.
  • Pour the batter equally into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the center of the cake is set. A tester inserted in the center should come out clean.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto wire racks and cool completely.
  • Once cakes are cool, use a serrated bread knife or cake slicer to cut off the top, domed part of the cake. Reserve the slices for serving over ice cream.

For the Cherry Filling:

  • Pit the cherries.
  • Combine pitted cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and maraschino cherry juice in a saucepan. Stir it together, then place over medium heat. Cook until it begins to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened.
  • Remove from heat. Transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate for 30 minutes, until cool.

For the Chocolate Ganache

  • Heat plant-based creamer in a microwave in 30-second increments until hot, but not boiling.
  • While the creamer heats up, add chocolate chunks to a bowl and stir in syrup. Pour the hot creamer over the chocolate, cover, and set aside for up to 3 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. Then stir until creamy. Set aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Vegan Whipped Cream

  • Add the vegan whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer use the whisk attachment. Whip for several minutes, until soft peaks form, around 3 minutes.

Cake Assembly

  • Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate. Top with a generous amount of cherry filling, spreading it evenly over the cake. Top with a large dollop of the vegan whipped cream. Add the second cake and repeat the layers. Repeat again with the third cake and repeat the layers, finishing with cherry sauce.
  • If the whipped cream leaks outside of the layers, use a spatula to spread it evenly around the edges of the cake. Add additional whipped cream to create an even layer of "frosting" around the sides of the cake, allowing some of the chocolate cake to show.
  • Drizzle chocolate ganache over the top. Top with more whipped cream and whole cherries.
  • Refrigerate the entire cake for 30 minutes to an hour (or even several hours) before cutting into slices.

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Notes

Coffee extract is optional but it enhances the chocolate flavor in the cake. You can substitute an equal amount of instant coffee.
Vegan creamer or vegan half and half is recommended for the ganache, but you can substitute full-fat coconut milk or even soy milk.
Calories: 523kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 0.004mg | Sodium: 338mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 19IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

2 Responses to Vegan Black Forest Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKaren Reply

    5 stars
    I absolutely adore this cake!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I’m so glad you like it, Karen!

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