Black Forest Icebox Cake

A classic Black Forest Cake is a chocolate sponge cake, layered with a cherry filling and whipped cream, and topped with chocolate shavings. It is one of those things that I grew up with and never really cared for, until I became an adult and discovered the magic of pairing cherries and chocolate together.

Thanks to my mom, who is my biggest food influencer, and who has exposed me to all sorts of delicious food from the very beginning (literally from the time she was pregnant with me). She and I share a deep appreciation for cheese, anchovies, key lime pie, pasta, dips, and so much more.

Recently, after Matt and I ordered some Chinese food for delivery, and I was eating mapo tofu and roast duck, I had such an aching for my mom to be nearby, so we can eat together. But we live in different countries and with this pandemic, it seems like we are even more physically apart. So for this Mother’s Day – like every Mother’s Day during the last decade or so – I wanted to make food that connects us.

When I brainstorm recipes with my mom, she always leans towards and suggests chocolate desserts with cherries (like this Rocky Road Fudge with Boozy Cherries or Dark Chocolate Nutella Cherry Truffles). And when I was telling her that I’d love to go to Germany and Austria, she encouraged me, reminding me that I can feast on black forest (a German cake) and sacher-torte (an Austrian cake, another favorite). Note to self: Matt and I should plan a European trip when it’s safe to travel again.

So that’s how I ended up with this. My version of Black Forest Cake has only five ingredients: chocolate wafers, cream, powdered sugar, luxardo cherries, and dark chocolate shavings. The cake doesn’t need to be baked, just assembled and frozen (which is why it’s called an icebox cake). But it has all the flavors of the cake that my mom and I love.

For ease (and also: lack of baking ingredients in my pantry during the pandemic) I used chocolate wafers as the cake base – essentially thin oreos without the cream. If you can’t find these Nabisco famous chocolate wafers (or its generic counterparts), chocolate graham crackers would work well, too. When you layer these wafers with whipped cream and let it set in the freezer overnight, they soften into a dense, cake-like texture, which is perfect for an icebox cake recipe like this.

For the cherry filling, I used luxardo cherries, which are Italian maraschino cherries – plump marasca cherries preserved in cherry liqueur. I love these luxardo cheeries, with their deep dark red color and rich syrup. They’re the adult version of those bright red candied cherries that are ubiquitous in cocktails. I layered everything with homemade whipped cream (but no judgement if you use ready-made) and then showered the top of the cake with dark chocolate shavings.

Yield: serves 8

No Bake Black Forest Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes


2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
18 pieces (approx 5 oz) chocolate wafers
8 oz  luxardo cherries
1 tablespoon dark chocolate shavings


  1. Line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, with overhang over the edges. This is important as this will let you lift the cake out for slicing.
  2. Make the whipped cream. Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer) with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and sugar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
  3. Start assembling the cake. The layers are: cream, wafers, cream, cherries, cream, wafers, cream, cherries, cream, wafers, cream. Spread a few spoonfulls of the whipped cream in the bottom of the loaf pan. Assemble a layer of chocolate wafers. It's okay if some break and if there's a little overlap but just arrange it so you have one even layer without too much gaps. Spread another layer of whipped cream, then about half of the cherries. Repeat, and then assemble the last layer of wafers and cream.
  4. Top cake with chocolate shavings.
  5. Freeze for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Serve chilled.

This recipe uses about half a jar of luxardo cherries, but if you want more cherry and liqueur flavor, use an entire jar (14 oz).

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend and celebrating your mothers. Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful mom, who loves food and shopping as much as I do. We may be apart but we are always together.

If you’d like read my Mother’s Day posts from previous years, they’re all here: 20112012201320142015201620172018, 2019.


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