Black Forest Snack Cake (sugar-free)

Both my parents, for whatever reason, are intensely intrigued with Black Forest Cakes. They don’t know exactly what it is, but they have the impression that it’s really sophisticated. My mom commented to me how she sees all sorts of things “reduced to clear” from Safeway, but never the Black Forest Cake. And I scoff thinking about the fake whipped cream and the questionable maraschino “cherries” and the probably-too-dry cake layers. I mean, not that I think my baking is all that, but it’s pretty easy to beat supermarket cakes in the flavor department. And the moistness department. So one day, I will bake a black forest cake to end all black forest cakes just for my parents, but before that, here’s a spin-off…

This is the sort of cake you won’t feel too guilty about indulging in. I omitted the sugar, relying on the natural sweetness of the fruit instead. The deep cocoa flavor combined with kirsch and cherries is classic, and the random peanuts thrown on top add a little more interest.

Black Forest Snack Cake

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
recipe by: etherealeats
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (or spelt, or whole wheat pastry)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (or a neutral-flavoured oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed finely
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup dried, chopped cherries (or cranberries)
  • 3/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 (or 2) tbsp kirsch
  • 1/4 cup halved roasted peanuts
  • honey, to serve (if desired)
  1. Butter and line two 9-inch cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine cherries and 1 tbsp kirsch and let sit for at least thirty minutes.
  2. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, apple sauce, oil, vanilla extract, and eggs. Add 1 tbsp of kirsch if desired. Fold in mashed bananas.
  4. Combine wet ingredients into dry. Fold in dried cherries. Divide evenly into two pans. Top each cake with kirsch-marinated cherries around the outside, and peanuts in the centre.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes. When toothpick comes out dry, remove and allow to cool.
  6. Serve with honey, or alternatively, dust with cocoa/icing sugar mixture. Enjoy!


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