Mini Black Forest Cakes (Happy Birthday Brahms!)

Dessert, Food, Music | May 7, 2015 | By

For some light ambiance – click play. 🙂 ^^^^^^

I have to confess that there’s something I’ve been hiding from you all. Well, not exactly “hiding,” per se – my friends know about it. But people can be judgy, so I’m kiiiinda going out on a limb here by telling you this. And if you didn’t think I was a mega nerd already, this will probably seal the deal for you. OK, ready? Hold on. DEEP BREATHS EVERYONE.

I love a man I can’t have… Because he’s been dead for 118 years.

…..Ok, WAIT, BEFORE you get all weirded out (too late?) and try to get me professional help of some sort (also too late? HANG UP), let me tell you who it is.


‘Tis the one and only Johannes Brahms. <3 <3 <3

OK, so maybe that wasn’t the best way of putting my feelings about Brahms into words. I was half kidding about being in love with him. Or, like, 25% kidding. But whatever, let’s be honest, young Brahms pre-beer gut and Santa beard was a STUD. Just LOOK at that icy glare and that jaw structure. Guten TAG. *sexy eyes emoji*



I guess his music is fine too. It’s not like it makes me cry or anything, and it’s not like you might be crying too at this very moment listening to it. Lots of my friends hate on his music because they think it’s cheesy, which it kind of is, but then again I love cheese. I also love Brahms, so haters, politely step aside. 




Anyway, why all this talk about Brahms? Well, today is a special day because it is Mr. Brahms’s 182nd birthday!!! I baked JB a simple vanilla cake for his 181st birthday last year, but this year decided to do something a little more “German.” At first I was going to make German chocolate cake, but then discovered upon doing research (on Wikipedia – so legit) that German chocolate cake is actually a U.S. thing. How stupid is that? Just call it what it is, America, sheesh.




But then I discovered that black forest cake IS a German thing. It was developed a short while after Brahms’s death, but I’m going to just assume that Brahms would have liked it had it been around 20 years earlier.




As much as I adore Brahms, not to be forgotten today is another wonderful composer whose birthday is also May 7th. TCHAIKOVSKY!! Pyotr and I are kind of in a weird place right now, because after working on his concerto this year and (FINALLY) playing it at my jury on Tuesday, I need a break. Honestly, I’m kind of ready to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever play or hear it again. But that’s not possible, so I’ll just suck it up and wish him a happy birthday too. Sorry I didn’t make you any Russian desserts, Pete. Maybe next year.




This cake is deeeeelish. Unfortunately, ALL of the coconut milk I bought at the store (and I bought 3 cans just to make sure) was no good – the fat content was off, so the coconut cream didn’t make a light, fluffy whipped cream like I wanted. I ended up having to add copious amounts of tapioca flour just to get it to emulsify, and it ended up more like a gooey icing. But if you’re not into the whole dairy free thing, you can just use regular whipping cream, or buy pre-made whipped cream from the store if you so wish. Or check out this coconut whipped cream recipe. Original black forest cake calls for cherry liqueur, but I don’t have any of that, so I used bourbon. But hey, Brahms liked to drink. So I assume all booze is good booze.








Mini Black Forest Cakes
Yields 5
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
  1. 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
  2. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  3. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 cup pure cane sugar
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 cup regular/dairy free milk (I like cashew milk)
  8. 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  9. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. 2 cups frozen cherries
  2. 1-2 tbs. bourbon (to taste)
  3. 2 1/2 tbs. maple syrup
Whipped Topping
  1. 1 can coconut cream (solids from a can of coconut milk left in the fridge overnight)
  2. Maple syrup to lightly sweeten, ~1-2 tbs.
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Mix wet and dry ingredients just until combined. Don't overmix.
  5. Pour batter into a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly, and tap the pan on a hard surface to settle the batter.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, or until set.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.
  1. Bring cherries to a low simmer in a pan with maple syrup.
  2. Let simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until juice is thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and add bourbon.
  1. Whisk coconut milk solids and syrup until fluffy.
  1. When cake is cool, use a knife or round cookie cutter to cut out precise circles in the cake. I used a clean tin can as a guide.
  2. On top of the first layer, spread some whipped topping.
  3. Add another layer of cake, and then spread on some cherry/bourbon mixture.
  4. Add one more layer of cake, then top with more whipped topping. For an optional garnish, finish with grated chocolate and a cherry.
The Hungry Musician


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