Chocolate works with many flavours, but the combination of chocolate and cherry is magical. This combination is at the heart of the ultimate in retro cakes, the Black Forest Gateau.
Whilst the version from the freezers of supermarkets is fine, I think this tops them all with layers of speckled chocolate cake brushed with a cherry glaze and covered with sweetened cream. I found this great sour cherry conserve which has chunks of sour cherry inside. I apply this liberally on the sponge as it is the only source of cherry flavour. Feel free to change this up by making cherry compote or a cherry syrup instead. Kirsch, a cherry liqueur, can also be used.
If you want to put cherries in each layer, I suggest using frozen cherries, which are readily available, and cooking them down with some water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and cherry conserve until it is thick, sticky and the cherries are soft. Drain the syrup away and paint the sponges using this instead.
150g dark chocolate, melted
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tbsp milk
175g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g self-raising flour
250g high quality sour cherry conserve
600ml double cream
75g granulated sugar
100g dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line the base of 2 20cm deep loose bottomed round tins with baking parchment and set aside.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 30 second blasts, stirring after each blast, reducing the time to 20 seconds once it starts to melt. Add the milk and coffee, stir to combine and set aside to cool briefly.
Whisk the 6 eggs with the sugar until it is thick, mousse-like and when you draw a figure of eight with the whisk, it is visible before sinking back slowly. Add the cooled chocolate, the vanilla extract and sift in the self-raising flour, and working quickly, fold through until everything is combined. If the chocolate is not mixing through, using just 1 whisk in the electric whisk, whisk until the sponge is even.
Divide the sponge mix between the 2 tins and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to divide the sponges in half, cutting off any peaks so that each top half lays flat.
Mix 4 tablespoons of the cherry conserve with some boiling water until it is loose. Paint each exposed side of the sponge with the conserve and place one bottom half on your serving plate or cake stand.
Whip the double cream with the sugar until it forms thick but soft peaks. Do not overwhip.
Spread another 3 tablespoons of the conserve on the sponge and then top with some of the whipped cream. Sandwich another layer on top, repeating this layering process, finishing on a top half of sponge and around half of the cream left.
Transfer some of the cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Spread the top with some cream and then spread the rest around the side. Finish by piping 8 large peaks of the cream on the top with one in the centre. Carefully dot some of the conserve on each peak and create a ring of 8 dots between the cream on the top.
Scrape the back of a knife against the bar of chocolate to create chocolate sprinkles and dust over the cake. Keep in the fridge and it is best eaten the day after.