As I’ve started to become proficient in making sugar-free alternatives for desserts that are compliant with Jorge Cruise’s Belly Fat Cure program, one of the challenges I’ve had in mind that I wanted to attempt for myself was to make an as close to sugar-free as possible Black Forest cake for my birthday. Not any of the fancy Black Forest cakes made with Cherry liquor or several fancy layers as those to me aren’t Black Forest cakes to me. For me, I tend to like the plain ol’ neighborhood supermarket variety of Black Forest cakes.
The reason I love these kinds of Black Forest cake is because it was always something special my grandmother would get from her local SuperValu Grocery store back in Calgary, Canada when I was a kid. She would do this especially for me when I would come to stay with her or at least that’s what she would tell me. Its not so much that the cake was anything special in itself, just the memories of time with my grandmother where she would make me feel like I was the most important person in the world and we were getting to enjoy a special treat together. I miss my grandmother since she passed away at the end of 2001, so I generally like to celebrate my birthdays with a Black Forest cake to not only celebrate my birthday but to feel like I’m still having a special moment with my grandmother.
Now the challenge with having adopted a low sugar lifestyle through Jorge Cruise’s Belly Fat Cure program, is that having a plain old store bought Black Forest cake is now out of the question. Sure, I could make an exception to the program for one slice or cake since a birthday is a “special occasion” but I don’t want to get into the habit of having “special occasion” exceptions. Besides, limitations are the mother of creative invention, and what fun would it be to just succumb to a slice of a store bought cake loaded with sugar without at least trying to come up with an as close to sugar free version first? I’ve had fairly successful in coming up with alternatives so far. When I got a craving for chocolate chip cookies, I found a way to make sugar free ones. When I was looking to have a milkshake I found a way to make a sugar free milkshake too. I even found a way to make sugar-free Nanaimo Bars. The only thing that would be different here is that there is simply no way to avoid some sugar as the cake requires cherries, but if the cherries are the only thing in the cake with sugar, it just might be a workable solution.
This proved to be an interesting challenge in finding recipes for the cake. There were plenty of cake recipes that called for pre-packaged cake mixes. Those are out of the question since those all have sugar in them. And those that are low sugar, have Splenda in them, and I refuse to use Splenda because it’s a toxic sugar substitute. And most of the scratch cake recipes were calling for Kirsch cherry liquor, which I’m sure makes a great Black Forest cake, but it’s not the kind of Black Forest cake I’m trying to make.
Nearly all of the recipes I found called for using pre-packaged cherry pie filling. After visiting several supermarkets over the last several months as I’ve been plotting my strategy for a Black Forest cake, I had to rule out cherry pie filling because it’s loaded with excessive amounts of sugar. I thought I had victory when I found a cherry pie filling that had just a tiny amount of sugar in it. I was all excited about it until I rotated the can and saw the big “Made with Splenda” logo on it. So back on the shelf that can went, I am not going to use Splenda in my cake as it’s a toxic chemical.
Also one of the other issues I was finding with a lot of the recipes is that they were decorated with chocolate colored and flavored icing. The Black Forest cakes I want have always had white icing and were covered in chocolate shavings. So none of the recipes I was finding were looking like they were going to work for me. I’ve never baked a from scratch cake in my life before so I didn’t know enough on where I could make substitutions to get it more to what I wanted with these recipes and since this is likely to be a one-time trial (as I’m not likely to attempt it again until next year.)
Ultimately, the breakthrough for me was due to a new video Jorge Cruise sent me a private link to check out to make sure it made sense before he released it to the public which offers some tips on what to do this coming holiday season to help cut the sugar and still enjoy the holidays. One of his tips in the video is to skip canned cranberry sauce, and make your own, by getting fresh or frozen cranberries, boiling them for a few minutes, then add some Stevia to sweeten them. (I don’t know if the video has been officially announced yet, but I’ve seen it’s getting a number of hits on YouTube, so if you want to view this video, click here.) Well that gave me the idea I should make my own cherry pie filling that way I can use the sugar substitute of my choice to sweeten it. And since that would require a separate recipe, I thought maybe I should look for separate recipes for both the cake and the icing as well.
This proved to be the best solution, because I was able to find all kinds of recipes for chocolate cake that looked like they would be easy to adapt to a sugar-free version. I found a recipe for making homemade cherry pie filling that I would be able to substitute the sugar with Xylitol. And then the last challenge was finding an appropriate icing recipe that would be easy to adapt as well. So once I made my decisions on which recipes I would use, I was once again excited that my Black Forest cake project was back on track.
However, I did run into one snag in the process that was definitely a learning experiment. I came across a few recipes that showed people taking cake pre-packaged cake mixes and skipping adding the oil, eggs, and milk called for in the recipe and replacing them with a can of diet soda. Well since I had some Black Cherry Zevia which is sugar free, I thought that if I was able use the soda to substitute for the eggs, oil, and milk, the soda might also add some cherry flavoring to the cake so that I wouldn’t have to use as much cherry pie filling to get the cherry flavor into the cake. Perhaps this might lower the sugar content of the cake further.
I attempted the cake recipe making those substitutions but it didn’t work at all. The cakes just baked and baked for double the amount of time called for in the recipe and yet they still weren’t solidifying in the middles of the two cake. The edges were cooking fine, just not the centers of the cake. The tip about using a can of diet soda may work for pre-packaged cake mixes as they must have some ingredients that allow the cake to finish off properly that obviously aren’t in a from scratch cake recipe. So I ended up tossing those cakes out and starting again this time following the recipe and only making Xylitol as the substitution for the sugar and these cakes baked perfectly fine. The original recipe I used for the cake was from Hershey’s website and can be seen by clicking here. (Don’t worry, my modified recipe will be at the end of this blog entry.)
So now that I had two round sugar free chocolate cakes it was time to make the cherry pie filling. Again, the store bought fillings were not an option since those are loaded with sugar, and the one kind of low sugar pie filling I found had the unacceptable ingredient of Splenda. So the recipe I selected from the Internet was from a site called “Diana’s Kitchen” and you can get the original recipe by clicking here. Here I did replace the sugar called for in the recipe with Xylitol so other than the sugar from within the cherries, it’s as close to sugar free as this recipe is going to get. Also I didn’t find any fresh cherries so I used frozen ones. I ended up with too much cherry pie filling with the recipe so it can probably easily cut in half. I ended up just putting all my left over cherry pie filling into a container and froze it, so if I decide to try the recipe again anytime soon, I don’t need to make more cherry pie filling.
The last component I needed was an icing. After having looked at several icing recipes what I ultimately decided on was to make a cream cheese frosting as it would have all the benefits of a whipped cream frosting, but also be able to maintain its shape in room temperatures, so that you don’t constantly have to hurry to get the cake back in the refridgerator before the whipped cream icing starts to melt (after all it is the hottest part of summer right here in San Diego at the moment.) I decided on using the recipe found at AllRecipes.com for Sturdy Whipped Cream which can be found by clicking here.
I selected this icing recipe based on the comments made by a couple of other users who varied it themselves by saying that they were able to get the frosting to taste more like whipped cream frosting by using more sugar and only using vanilla extract and a couple of people seemed to indicate they love this recipe so much it’s become their only icing recipe they’ll ever use. So it was worth a try. Unlike the recipe, I used regular cream cheese instead of reduced fat because I’m more concerned about the sugar content than the fat content. And the recipe generated more icing than I needed for the cake. And this icing tastes wonderful, so I don’t mind the leftover icing, in fact it’s got the consistency of many store bought frosting mixes, except it’s completely sugar free, so I think I’m adopting it as my official frosting recipe as well.
Now that I had all the components of the Black Forest cake ready for assembly, I put the bottom layer of the cake on a plate, then proceeded to make a wall of icing to help contain the cherry pie filling when I next scooped that on top of the bottom layer of the cake. (As a side note, if and when I make this cake again, I’m going to change this step to actually add a layer of the icing on top of the bottom layer of the cake because I didn’t get enough “visual satisfaction” from just the cherry pie filling used by itself as a layer separator in the cake), I filled the center of the cake with some of the cherry pie filling up to the wall of icing on the edge of the cake, then I put the top layer of the cake on top of the filling layer, then proceeded to add icing to the cake.
I had watched a video on YouTube featuring Jamaica Crist of Jamaica’s Cakes in Los Angeles on how to decorate a Black Forest cake (Click here to see the video) and boy did she make it look easy to decorate the cake. I, however, did not find it remotely as easy to add icing to the cake. I thought I might try adding some icing to a plastic sandwich bag and cut a whole in it so I could try a little fancy icing borders, but it didn’t quite work out for me. I found getting the icing to cover the corner of the cake from the side to top particularly difficult to do, so I gave up on trying to be fancy and settled for just getting the cake covered in icing.
The last thing I did was shave down a “ChocoPerfection” Milk Chocolate chocolate bar to dust the cake with. ChocoPerfection bars are these amazingly good chocolate bars that have no sugar in them at all, they use Erythritol, a sugar alcohol instead. The only downside to these bars is they are extremely expensive. It’s almost $4 for a single bar of it, but they are really good. I couldn’t quite figure out how I was going to dust the sides of the cake with the shavings so I just dusted the top of the cake instead.
To complete the cake I added some of the frozen cherries I still had left, I added twelve around the edges kind of resembling the numbers on a clock and added one to the center to make it look complete. The only downside to using the frozen cherries is that once they thawed some of their juice flowed down the sides of the cake creating some red streaks down the icing. I didn’t know they were going to do that so I’ll make sure to thaw those next time before I add them to the cake.
And once it was done, I had a rather good looking cake there. At least I think so anyway. When I finally decided to cut out a slice to give it a try, that’s where I discovered if I do this again, I want to add some icing to the cherry layer so that it helps to visually make the layers stand out a bit more. As for how it tasted, it tasted good. It definitely tasted homemade, which I think is a good thing. The cake came out tasting good, the cherry filling was good, and the frosting was great too.
Not a lot of the cherry filling was used so I imagine on a per serving basis, the sugar content is very minimal and compliant with the Belly Fat Cure. I haven’t tried to figure out the calculations based on how much of the cherries were used in the process of making the cake divided out by how many servings yet, but ultimately I am pleased with the success of the cake as I set out to make a Black Forest cake where the only sugar in the cake is what is in the cherries. It was definitely a really involved recipe so I don’t think I’ll be making another one of these anytime in the immediate future, but I’m definitely willing to try it again. Maybe next time I’ll attempt it as cupcakes instead of a layered cake.
And before I share the completed recipe I wanted to add a little comment about the preparation of the cake. I was recently given a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and this was my first chance to try out the mixer. But the funny thing is, the mixer is one that’s been in my family for a while now. It used to belong to my grandmother. The same grandmother who I mentioned above as the reason why making a Black Forest cake was so important to me. I didn’t really make the connection between the mixer having belonged to my grandmother and the Black Forest cake being my first recipe to try out the mixer until I sat down to write this entry for my blog.
Maybe it does seem a little spooky that there are too many interesting coincidences in this. What are the chances that… I would decide early in my taking part in the Belly Fat Cure program that I would like to make an as close to sugar free Black Forest cake as possible for my birthday… my grandfather would all of a sudden decide he no longer needed to hold on to my grandmother’s KitchenAid mixer nearly eight years after she had passed away… my father would happen to decide to drive home to Canada about a month ago instead of fly, thereby making it easier to bring the mixer home with him… I would be given this mixer in time to try it out on a Black Forest cake, which just so happened to be the same kind of cake that has special significance for me involving my grandmother… and the final inspiration I needed to put the whole recipe together was Jorge Cruise talking about making holiday cranberry sauce in a manner that would allow me to make my cherry filling for the cake. I almost get the feeling this was orchestrated with a little help from my grandmother in a law of attraction kind of way. Definitely something to think about.
And now without any further ado, I present Ryan Cameron’s “Almost Sugar Free Black Forest Cake”
Ryan Cameron’s Almost Sugar-Free Black Forest Cake
2 cups xylitol
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup oil (I recommend coconut oil, but can use vegetable oil or olive oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Cherry Filling Ingredients:
1 cup fresh or frozen pitted cherries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup xyliol
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup xylitol
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 ChocoPerfection Milk Chocolate Bar
13 fresh or frozen pitted cherries (allow to thaw if frozen)
1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Boil water.
3. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
4. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
5. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
6. Beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
7. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
8. Pour batter into prepared pans.
9. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
10. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
Cherry Filling Instructions:
1. In a saucepan, cook cherries in water for 10 minutes.
2. Mix together the sugar and cornstarch; add to cherries.
3. Cook cherry mixture until thickened.
4. Cool slightly before using.
1. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth.
3. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream.
4. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.
Cake Assembly Instructions:
1. Place bottom cake layer on a plate.
2. Place a thin layer of frosting on top of bottom cake layer.
3. Add cherry filling to frosting layer. (Use as little or as much as you like)
4. Add a thin layer of frosting on top of cherry layer.
5. Add top layer of cake to the frosted bottom layer.
6. Add frosting over entire cake.
1. Grate ChocoPerfection chocolate bar into flakes or dust.
2. Dust cake with the chocolate flakes or dust.
3. Add cherry to the center of cake (if desired).
4. Add cherries to the edge of a cake similar to numbers on a clock.