1 hr 40 mins
Black Forest cake is a crowd-pleaser, with its combination of chocolate and cherries and alcohol. The problem is that it’s hard to get all those elements in each forkful. Our solution: deconstruct it (swapping lambic for Kirsch and adding in chocolate crème anglaise for good measure) and layer it in “strata” so each bite is filled with everything this dessert has to offer.
What to buy: Belgian lambics are becoming more popular and therefore more commonplace. Lindemans Kriek Lambic is the most widely available kriek lambic, and it can be found at most gourmet grocery stores and liquor stores.
Game plan: Everything can be prepared up to 1 day ahead, and the dessert can be assembled up to 8 hours ahead.
Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange the rack in the middle. Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder in a medium mixing bowl to aerate and break up any lumps.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter at medium speed until light in color. Beat in vanilla extract, then add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl; add melted chocolate and mix until smooth.
Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until incorporated. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake until cookies are puffed and set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool to room temperature. (Makes 36 cookies.)
For the chocolate crème anglaise:
Combine cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
Whisk together remaining sugar and egg yolks until pale and well incorporated. While constantly whisking, slowly pour in 1/2 of the hot cream. Pour egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan with the hot cream and place over low heat. Stirring constantly, cook mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt chocolate over low heat and whisk into crème anglaise. Cool and refrigerate.
For the garnish:
Combine cherries and lambic in a medium bowl, and set aside until cherries rehydrate, about 15 minutes.
Drain cherries and reserve lambic. Whisk lambic and cream together, and beat to form medium peaks; refrigerate until ready to use.
For each serving, break up three cookies and set aside. In a 4- to 5-inch-tall glass (with a 2-1/2- to 3-inch diameter), layer 1/3 of the cookie pieces, a rounded tablespoon of the whipped cream, 1 tablespoon of the crème anglaise, a few soaked cherries, and a bit of the chopped chocolate. Repeat twice to make three complete layers. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: After assembling your desserts, you’ll have some leftover chocolate cookies. We’re sure you’ll figure out what to do with them!
Beverage pairing: Lindemans Kriek Lambic or Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.
Beverage pairing: With sinfully rich chocolate desserts, nothing refreshes the palate more than a glass of cool and sweet red bubbly. For this reason we love the Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui. Serve chilled in a champagne flute, and watch that “strata” disappear!