Black Forest "Cake"

Anyone who lives, works, or grew up around Fort Worth is probably familiar with this dessert, which has become the signature creation of Fort Worth's Swiss Pastry Shop. A true cake it is not, but rather a delicious, cloud-like confection. Billowy whipped cream is paired with surprises of crisp, almond-tinged meringue and dressed with luscious chocolate curls. Although the image of a black forest cake conjures up images of deep cocoa and cherries, you will not find any cherries in this dessert.

Last fall, I went on a virtual quest to find a recipe similar to the Swiss Pastry Shop's version. Most everything I found consisted of enough flour to make it cakey, and I knew the SPS's dessert was anything but. Finally, I stumbled upon an archived Star-Telegram article detailing the recipe. It was relatively easy to make and the results were wonderful. My mother's birthday celebration is tomorrow, so I will be making it again today. The recipe states the yield as 10 servings, but it's an incredibly rich cake. I made as written and it easily served the 12 people at a family dinner last year, with a bit leftover.

Serves 10
10 ounces egg whites (about 10 large egg whites)
3 cups minus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 pound blanched almonds, finely grated
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons very hot water
3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
Vanilla extract, to taste
Dark sweet chocolate, shaved
Dark sweet chocolate, finely grated
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy. Gradually add 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar, beating constantly, until mixture forms a mass that will stand in stiff peaks. Combine 1 cup sugar and cornstarch; carefully fold sugar mixture and almonds into beaten egg whites.
Spread mixture onto baking sheets lined with buttered parchment paper, forming three 10-inch circles. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.
Dissolve gelatin in hot water; cool slightly. Combine heavy cream and vanilla; beat until stiff. Add remaining 1 cup sugar and warm gelatin mixture, mixing carefully. Assemble cake, spreading whipped cream mixture between meringue layers. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped cream mixture. Sprinkle shavings over top of cake. Cover sides of with finely grated chocolate. Sift powdered sugar over top. Keep in cool place.

This was originally printed in the Star-Telegram on September 27, 2006.

Here are a few tips I learned when I made this:
  • Use a 10" springform pan base as a template for you circles. I trace the circles onto the parchment paper with a Sharpie, flip the paper over, butter it, then fill in the circle. Although the ink is on the backside, it will still show through the parchment paper. You can also make a shaped cake relatively easily (a square or heart instead of a circle) using a pastry bag to pipe the shape. It's crucial to use some kind of template to keep consistency in the layers. I'd imagine you could even make mini cakes, but it might be a lot of work.
  • Make sure the gelatin is dissolved well, but still a little warm when you add it to the whipped cream. I think I let mine cool too much one time and ended up with strings of gelatin in the whipped cream. Gross.
  • I've made the meringue layers several days ahead of time, wrapped them well, and frozen them until I was ready to assemble. When you defrost, be sure to leave them wrapped so the condensation occurs on the outside of the wrapping material, instead of on the meringue layers.


  1. I LOVE SWISS PASTRY! Thank you!!!

  2. Oh thank you for doing the legwork and finding the recipe! I've been wanting it as well and live much too far from FW now to visit the bakery. Would you say it compares, and is actually like the Swiss Pastry dessert, in the end? Was it very time consuming or difficult to make?

    Also, how do you grate blanched almonds? Or can they be purchased in that form already?

    I'd love to see a photo tutorial of this one day, just because I'm a visual learner. But for now, I'm very happy to have this recipe to try my hand at some time anyway!

    Thanks so much for posting this and sharing your tips. :)
    I look forward to hearing back from you soon too! Happy Weekend.

  3. Thank you so very much! For years my mother and I would go to Swiss Pastry Shop to have a piece of their Black Forest Cake as a special treat. It was always incredibly delicious, but I remember it so fondly for it's flavor and delicate texture but also because those were special times with my mom. Decades have gone by, my sweet mother has gone to heaven, and this native Texas is now living in Missouri. I've longed to recreate their cake, but have never found a recipe before. I am so excited to have found this!