Deconstructing Black Forest Cake and Princesses

by Pamela


Deconstructed Black Forest Cake

An obsession with sour cherries has been raging in my head lately.  I really wanted to go and pick some of these little red gems.  As a kid, my cousins and I were dragged out season by season to pick various fruits by our mothers.  Of course we turned this into something fun by climbing the trees and bombing each other with the fruit.  I think I still have some welts on my body from being pelted with apples during the fall (my two cousins were boys and had impeccable aim – bastards).

Sour CherryI was all determined to drive up and pick pound after pound of the sour cherries…and then reality set in.  I printed out the directions to the orchard and realized it would take me as long to get to the orchards as it takes us to get up to wine country.  I then decided that while I am willing to spend the day driving up and back to sip and slurp some amazing wines, I wasn’t willing to spend the same amount of time to go climb a bunch of trees and pick cherries.  I’ve got my priorities, and now you see where they lie.

Letting my fingers do the walking I searched the internet and found a great little Armenian market that carries the sour cherries of my obsession.  Woo Hoo!  Four pounds of these pretty little babies were all mine.  And with a modicum of driving.

After pitting the cherries and cleaning up the mess that was created (those cherry pitters are great, but you still get a LOT of cherry juice splattering all over the place – don’t wear nice clothes while doing this chore) I divided them into four piles and got to work.  You’ll be seeing the transformations of these piles in the coming weeks, but the first thing I made was this deconstructed black forest cake.

After all the driving and pitting I just couldn’t be bothered with everything that goes into making a black forest cake: baking the cake, splitting the layers, making up the cream and then putting all the layers back together again.  In fact, I was being so lazy at that point that I used a boxed cake mix (Heresy, I know.  But why re-create the wheel when you have something that works so well and is so easy to put together.)  Besides, at this point in the day I was ready to put my feet up and have a drink…so I think making this was a major accomplishment.  That being said, this is an easy dessert recipe that will win you rave reviews.

I have entered this recipe in the OXO Cherry Recipe Contest.

Relationship Advice

As little girls, most of us were raised on Disney Princesses and our mother’s telling us to hold out for our Prince Charming.  We aren’t the only little girls being fed that fairy tale of mother’s milk while in our formative years.  As much as I hear parents saying how they raise their daughters to be independent and to not be reliant on others for their happiness or living standards, the Princess’s keep coming and still have huge audiences.

Snow White – Beautiful woman cavorting with 7 height challenged men all with differing psychoses, toying with their affections because none of them could touch her (“other woman” jealous of her male companions has her killed), but some handsome stranger magically comes along gets to kiss her and bring her back to life.  Lesson learned – hang out with many men and let them serve your needs until something better comes along.

Cinderella – Ugly women are threatened by a beautiful woman and persecute her by not allowing her to go to the local dance and make her do menial, laborious chores.  While her ugly step sisters are away at the dance, nature steps in to right the wrong.  Once Cinderella is bathed and stripped of her burlap clothes she is dressed in the finest gown, makeup and hair.  Nature further believes the the beautiful woman must be carried to the dance in a horse drawn carriage.  Saved by the Prince who determines her perfection through her feet, she is saved from a life of oppression.  Lesson learned – beautiful woman should hang out with uglier women so that they look that much better to men.

Sleeping Beauty (aka Princess Aurora) – Being beautiful, Aurora’s parents keep her sheltered and her aunts treat her like a child.  As she matures, she makes the usual mistakes of youth – talking to a strange man (that she finds herself attracted to) and touching things she’s not supposed to (no, this has nothing to do with the strange man) and instead of being killed by touching the poisoned item, she is protected by her fairies and only falls into a deep sleep. Lesson learned – if you’re beautiful, it’s ok if you’re not smart because you will be looked after by others.

Makes 2 – 4 servings


  • 1 Pound Pitted Tart Cherries
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • Juice from 1/2 of an Orange
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Box Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Milk


In a small saucepan, over medium high heat, add the cherries, sugar, almond extract, orange juice and small pinch of salt.

Stir over heat until sugar is melted and juices begin to thicken.  (The juices will begin to reduce and appear to thicken a bit.)

In a small bowl or cup, mix the cornstarch and water.  Stir to thoroughly combine the starch and water.

Pour starch mixture into cherry mixture and stir until cherries and juice thicken.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (or the temperature stated on the cake mix box).

In a medium bowl combine dry cake mix and milk.  (Do not follow the directions on the box.)

Evenly distribute the cherries into individual oven safe dishes or pour into a loaf pan.

Spoon out some of the cake mix on to each of the cherry filled dishes or the cherry filled loaf pan.  This probably will not take all of the cake mix.  If you like, you can spoon the remaining mix into an oiled pan and cook once the black forest cakes are done.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.

Remove from oven and serve either warm or cold and with ice cream or whipped cream.

(If cooking the leftover cake – bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.)


Sofya October 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm

This is a terrific recipe, I am printing it out!!!! Love the recipe for the filling (I mean the cherry stuff) – I have a cherry tree growing in my front yard (tart cherry). I think this will be great with Ree Drummond’s baked fudge.

The Chocolate Priestess July 17, 2010 at 6:56 am

I must be weird, I was never raised with this idea that a man could solve my problems, or define me or that I should/could be a princess. Maybe that was because I come from a working class background?

Thank you for the reflections and the recipe!

Pamela July 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Not weird at all. I was raised the same as you.

I hope you like the recipe!

Kausambi (ColoredGrains) July 17, 2010 at 4:05 am

Really smart idea 🙂


pegasuslegend July 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm

love the cherries in her , one of my favorite special occassion cake and this looks better than all the rest!

marla {family fresh cooking} July 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Oh girl, you are very bold to tell the food blog world that you used cake mix from a box. I bet it was crazy good with those fresh cherries. Well done. Nice that you did not have to schlep too far to get a crate of cherries. Love your take on the princesses. Our favorite over here is Snow White. xo

Pamela July 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Eh…that’s how I roll…rebel baby. Can’t you just hear my Harley running in the background? LOL

Brian @ A Thought For Food July 16, 2010 at 10:36 am

Seeing this post helped me remember a dessert we had at L’Espalier, which is a very nice and expensive restaurant here in Boston. We did their 8 course tasting menu and it was all fantastic… except for a terribly pretentious (it’s hard to believe food can be pretentious… but this was) deconstructed black forest cake. There were little bite-size pieces all over the plate… none of which were particularly mind-blowing.

Sorry to start this comment off on a negative note… b/c yours looks INCREDIBLE! I love the sour cherries you include… sometimes these cakes can be overly sweet, so to have the tartness of the cherries must create a lovely balance.

Pamela July 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm

LOL – yeah pretentious food can be really disappointing. It looks pretty, but I think that’s the only purpose it serves. It usually doesn’t even fill you up. Craig and I did tasting menu one time and were so hungry when we left that we stopped at In-n-Out for burgers and fries.

I really like to use sour cherries when I bake. It’s hard to find them fresh out here, so I thought I’d take full advantage of them. I hope you try the recipe.

Lynne @ CookandBeMerry July 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I’m dying to see what else you’re going to make with those cherries. Your photo is mouth watering.

Pamela July 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Oh there’s more coming! I’ll give you a hint…drinking…

penny aka jeroxie July 14, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I like this version. Much simplier and no layering involved.

Pamela July 15, 2010 at 10:23 am

Call me lazy, but I’m always looking for an easier way to make things that still taste the way they’re supposed to.

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