Vegan Black Forest Parfaits

Taste the sweet flavors of winter with layers of fluffy chocolate sponge cake, liqueur-soaked cherries, and rich vanilla cream.

Black forest cake, with its decadent layering of dense chocolate cake, cherries, cream, and a splash of cherry liqueur, is so rich it’s saved for the most celebratory of holidays. Originating in the Black Forest region of Germany, this traditional dessert is often served in four layers, topped with whipped cream, and covered in chocolate shavings. While the cake is straight out of a pastry fantasy-land, you can raise the level of elegance by serving it in individual glasses. Added bonus? Guests won’t squabble over the final spoonfuls.

Serves 12

For the chocolate sponge cake:

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cups plain non-dairy milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/3 cup Kirsch or cherry liqueur

For the cherry sauce:

1 24-ounce jar morello cherries in syrup
1/4 cup Kirsch or cherry liqueur
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the vanilla cream:

1/4 cup cornstarch
1-1/4 cups plain non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 8-ounce container vegan cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 chocolate bar, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan and set aside. For the chocolate sponge cake, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, coffee, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

2. In a saucepan, add non-dairy milk, oil, and vinegar and stir together. Turn on burner to medium, and heat mixture for 5 minutes, reduce heat to low, then add chocolate chips, mixing continuously until chips are incorporated. Pour chocolate mixture into dry ingredients and stir until combined, being careful not to over-mix.

3. Transfer batter into prepared pan, smoothing out evenly. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While cake is still hot, drizzle with cherry liqueur evenly. Let cool completely.

4. For the cherry sauce, drain cherries, reserving cup of syrup. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add cherries, reserved syrup, cherry liqueur, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Remove from stove, cool, and transfer to refrigerator to cool completely.

5. For the vanilla cream, in a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch and non-dairy milk, removing lumps before turning on heat. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in vanilla and lemon juice. Let cool completely, then chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.

6. Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, whip cream for 1 minute. Add cream cheese, whip for 1 minute, and add sugar. Beat cream on low, and once sugar is incorporated, whip on high for 5 minutes. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

7. To serve, spoon 2 tablespoons cherry sauce each into bottoms of 12 4-ounce parfait glasses. Cut out rounds of cake the same width as glasses and place 1 round on top of cherries. Next, spoon a layer of vanilla cream on cake. Repeat until all 12 parfait glasses are full. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin layers off of chocolate bar onto each parfait. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Photo by Hannah Kaminsky

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