black forest cherry brownies on parchment paper

Reminiscent of the classic cake, these Black Forest Cherry Brownies are intensely fudgy and moist, with chunks of chopped fresh cherries and dark chocolate chips studded throughout. Top them with fluffy whipped cream, shaved chocolate and maraschino cherries for the ultimate dessert.

black forest cherry brownies on parchment paper

The Recipe That Inspired These Black Forest Cherry Brownies? Oma’s Cake.

Whenever I think of Black Forest cake, I think of no one else but my great-grandmother, whom we all called Oma, who made the best version I’ve ever eaten of the classic German dessert. She’d “whip it up” for special occasions (birthdays, baptisms, holidays, etc.) — and by that, I mean she would take days to make this cake from scratch, complete with layers of chocolate sponge cake, kirsch-soaked cherries and fresh whipped cream. To decorate it, she’d cover the cake with whipped cream, press chocolate shavings all along the sides and artfully arrange maraschino cherries on top like the numbers on a clock. She’d proudly place it at the center of our dining table, and the moment she’d turn around to go back into the kitchen to grab the carafe of coffee to serve with the cake, my grandfather would nudge one of us kids to steal a cherry off the top and see if she’d notice (she always did).

black forest cherry brownies on parchment paper

These Black Forest Cherry Brownies remind me of her and her beautiful cakes, and I like to think that but a fraction of her baking talents made their way down the line to me. That being said, I have yet to make her Black Forest cake recipe, because the version our family has is written in German, on a piece of paper and without official measurements. My Oma would simply go off of what seemed right as she worked in the kitchen, and yet somehow, every time, she would create a masterpiece. I can only hope to be as good as her in the kitchen someday.

Until then, these brownies are a good placeholder. They’re exceedingly fudgy and chocolaty, thick and dense, filled with juicy cherries and topped with dollops of whipped cream — and of course, a maraschino cherry, which I absolutely steal off the top first.

How to Make Black Forest Cherry Brownies

black forest cherry brownies on parchment paper

So how does one make Black Forest Cherry Brownies? I hardly need to tell you how to make brownies, I’m sure, but for these dessert bars, let’s consider a few important details:

  • First, you’ll need to make a parchment paper sling so the brownies don’t stick to the pan. Scroll down to the Notes section of the recipe below to read just how to do that. I promise — it’s easy, and it’ll save you so many headaches.
  • Secondly, what type of cocoa powder to use here is dealer’s choice. You can use either regular unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa powder. Since we’re not too concerned with leavening, or rise, for brownies, we don’t need to be particular about what kind of cocoa powder to use for baking purposes (see the Notes section for more details on this science!). Instead, the choice comes down to flavor: If you’re looking for a traditional chocolate brownie flavor, go with unsweetened cocoa powder. If you’re looking for a rich, deep chocolate flavor, go with Dutch-process cocoa powder. I chose the latter when making the brownies in these photos, which is why they’re extra-dark.
  • As for the toppings: You can go all out, or keep it simple. Either way, these brownies are delicious. They taste just as good on their own as they do with a cloud of white whipped cream, a dusting of semisweet chocolate shavings and that bright-red cherry on top. My daughters were particularly partial to the ones with the toppings, but to be honest, I liked them better without. And I’m dreaming of having one warmed up and served with vanilla ice cream for dessert on Valentine’s Day.
close-up of a black forest cherry brownie on parchment paper

To all you brownie lovers, you Black Forest cake lovers, you cherry + chocolate lovers, this dessert is definitely worth a try. If Oma were here, I think she’d approve of them, too — at least more so than all that cherry-stealing we did.

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black forest cherry brownies on parchment paper

Black Forest Cherry Brownies

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 16 brownies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These Black Forest Cherry Brownies are your new favorite dessert. Exceedingly fudgy, filled with juicy cherries and chocolate chunks and topped with fluffy whipped cream, these bars are indulgent without the fuss of the classic cake.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-process*)
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate bar, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (NOT thawed) pitted cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Grated semisweet chocolate, for topping (optional)
  • Fresh or maraschino cherries with stems, for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with a parchment paper sling**. Spray parchment with cooking spray.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, cocoa powder and chopped chocolate, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat sugars and eggs together on medium-high speed 3 to 4 minutes until mixture is pale and thickened. Gently stir in vanilla, then cooled butter-chocolate mixture. Fold in flour and salt until just combined.
  4. Gently fold in chopped cherries and chocolate chips until just combined. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center of brownies comes out clean or with moist crumbs clinging (do not overbake). Cool brownies in pan on a cooling rack completely, about 1 hour.
  6. Remove brownies from baking pan using parchment sling (run a butter knife along edges of brownies before removing, if needed). Use a sharp serrated knife to gently saw brownies into rows, 4×4, to make 16 total squares.
  7. In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream with a hand mixer on medium-high speed 3 to 4 minutes until stiff peaks form. Spoon a generous dollop of whipped cream on top of each brownie just before serving, if desired. Garnish with more grated chocolate and a cherry, if desired.

Notes

  • Recipe adapted from The Crumby Kitchen.
  • You can use either regular cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa powder for this recipe. Since leavening is not an issue for this recipe, your choice of cocoa powder simply depends on flavor preference — regular cocoa powder will yield a lighter, slightly more bitter chocolate flavor, whereas Dutch-process cocoa powder will yield a dark, rich chocolate flavor. You can learn more about the function of Dutch-process cocoa powder in the Notes section of my Devil’s Food Cake recipe.
  • To make a parchment sling, cut two long strips of parchment, each as wide as the pan (in this case, 8 inches) but long enough to hang over edges of pan on both sides by about 2 inches. Place each strip perpendicular to each other in pan so all sides are covered by parchment.
  • Store brownies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 day, or refrigerated up to 3 days.

Keywords: dark chocolate brownies, Dutch process cocoa brownies, homemade whipped cream

And in case you need more Valentine’s Day dessert inspo: