Black forest cheesecake is a rich and creamy chocolate cheesecake that's topped with a luscious cherry filling and decorated with whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate shavings! It's a decadent dessert that's great for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holidays!
Black forest cheesecake is a delicious combination of chocolate, cherries, and whipped cream! It's made with silky chocolate cheesecake, topped with sweet and sour cherry sauce, then decorated with maraschino cherries, fluffy whipped cream, and shaved dark chocolate.
It's a fantastic dessert for Christmas and the holidays because of its rich, chocolatey flavor and its festive presentation with bright red cherries and chocolate shavings!
Black Forest Cheesecake Ingredients
- Cherries - Use fresh or frozen pitted cherries of any variety.
- Cornstarch - Thicken the sauce and gives it a glossy finish.
- Sugar - Adjust the sugar depending on the natural sweetness of the cherries.
- Lemon - Add more lemon juice depending on how tart the cherries are.
How to Make Black Forest Cheesecake
- Crush or grind the chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos) into a fine crumb to make the crust. Use a food processor or place the cookies into a resealable bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into crumbs.
- Mix the cookie crumbs with melted butter and add it into a springform pan double-lined with foil. It should resemble wet sand and hold its shape when pressed. Use a flat-bottomed cup to press it along the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Beat together the softened cream cheese, eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and salt using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer. Set it aside once its smooth and creamy.
- Add the dark chocolate chips and milk to a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 20 seconds at a time at half power, stirring after each time. Once it's smooth and completely melted, add it to the cheesecake batter.
- Mix the chocolate into the cheesecake batter on low speed, scraping down the sides and bottom. Once combined, mix the batter on the lowest speed for 1 to 2 minutes to remove any air bubbles.
- Pour the batter into the springform pan and bang it several times on the counter to release any air bubbles. This will help prevent cracks in the cheesecake.
- Place the springform pan into a larger roasting pan and fill it up halfway with hot water. This is called a water bath, and it insulates the cheesecake from extreme temperatures and helps prevent cracking.
- Bake for 75 minutes and then turn off the oven and crack the door slightly for 1 hour. This lets the cheesecake slowly reduce in temperature which helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking and collapsing.
If all goes well, you should have a perfectly baked, crack-free chocolate cheesecake. But if you do end up with cracks, no worries! You'll cover those cracks with a luscious cherry topping with no one the wiser.
Remove it from the water bath and foil and allow it come to room temperature on the counter. Loosely cover it to prevent condensation from dripping onto the cheesecake and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to overnight.
- Add the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, water, and lemon juice to a pot and bring it to a boil.
- Once it thickens, reduce the heat and adjust with more sugar or lemon juice depending on the sweetness of the cherries.
- Spoon the cherry topping onto your cheesecake, leaving about 2 inches uncovered around the edges.
- Pipe the whipped cream along the perimeter and then top with shaved chocolate and maraschino cherries.
To serve, dip a thin knife in hot water and wipe it dry before and after each slice. This will get you smooth, even slices that show off the creamy, silky texture of this cheesecake!
Enjoy this decadent black forest cheesecake recipe and be sure to make it for the holidays. Happy baking!
More Cheesecake Recipes
Black Forest Cheesecake
Chocolate Cookie Crust
- 15 chocolate sandwich cookies - e.g. Oreos; See Note 1
- 2½ tablespoons butter - melted
- 2 8oz packages cream cheese - softened; see Note 2
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup sour cream - See Note 3
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 lb pitted cherries - fresh or frozen; about 3½ cups
- 3 to 6 tablespoons sugar - start with less and adjust
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 to 4 tablespoons water - start with less and adjust
- whipped cream - see Note 4
- maraschino cherries
- chocolate shavings
- Crush or grind the chocolate cookies to get fine crumbs. Use a food processor or place the cookies in a resealable bag and crush them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet. Mix the crumbs with the melted butter. It should resemble wet sand and hold its shape when pressed.Add the crumbs to the pan and firmly pat down to get an even layer on the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.15 chocolate sandwich cookies, 2½ tablespoons butter
- Make the batter: Reduce the oven to 325°F. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese, eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and salt until smooth and creamy on medium-high speed. Tip: for a softer, silkier texture replace half the sour cream with heavy cream.2 8oz packages cream cheese, 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar, ⅔ cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add the chocolate: Add the chocolate chips and milk to a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 20 seconds at a time at half power until melted, stirring after each time. Add the melted chocolate to the batter and mix on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom. Lastly, remove large air bubbles by reducing the speed to the lowest setting for 1 to 2 minutes.1 cup dark chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons milk
- Water bath: Pour the batter into the springform pan and remove any air bubbles by banging the pan onto the kitchen counter lined with a kitchen towel. Put the springform pan into a larger roasting pan and add hot water halfway up the side to create a water bath.
- Bake: Bake at 325°F for 75 minutes. Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to crack open the oven door. Let the cheesecake slowly reduce in temperature for one hour then remove it from the oven.
- Chill: Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and remove the foil. Once it reaches room temperature, loosely cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours to overnight.
- Mix the cornstarch with water to make a cornstarch slurry (if using frozen cherries, use less water). Add the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch slurry to a pot and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to avoid burning.1 lb pitted cherries, 3 to 6 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 to 4 tablespoons water
- Once it thickens, reduce the heat and taste. As cherries vary in sweetness, adjust with more lemon juice, sugar, or water as needed. Sour cherries may need more sugar and sweet cherries may need more lemon juice. For a thinner sauce, add a ½ tablespoon of water at a time. Note: the sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Carefully remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Add the cherry topping leaving 2 inches along the edge for the whipped cream. Add the chocolate shavings and finish with maraschino cherries.Cut slices using a thin knife that's been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each slice. Serve and enjoy!
✎ Recipe Notes
- Chocolate cookie crust - Reduce the amount by half if you only want a bottom crust with no sides.
- Cream cheese - Use full-fat cream cheese for best results. To soften, leave at room temperature or microwave for 20 seconds at a time until soft (my preferred method).
- Sour cream - Sour cream helps give the cheesecake a creamy, soft texture. For an even softer and silkier texture, replace half the sour cream with heavy cream. This will give you a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake that's velvety soft. I highly recommend this for those who prefer soft cheesecakes over dense ones.
- Whipped cream - Beat together 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy.
- Crust: Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup with straight sides to easily press down the chocolate cookie crumbs.
- Crack-free cheesecake: Cracks can form in cheesecakes due to air bubbles, over-mixing, and improper temperature. Once the batter is smooth and creamy, mix the batter on the lowest speed for 2 minutes to push out any large air bubbles. Bang the pan on the kitchen counter several times. Avoid opening the oven during baking to keep the temperature consistent. This prevents the cheesecake from collapsing and cracking.
- Once the cheesecake comes to room temperature, cover it loosely to prevent any condensation from dripping onto the cheesecake.
- Chill overnight for best results.
- Make ahead for the holidays - Black forest cheesecake can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Or it can be made up to 1 month in advance and frozen if the cherry topping is left off. Thaw in the fridge overnight and top with the cherry topping, cherries, and whipped cream right before serving.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.
Black forest cheesecake tastes best when consumed within 3 days of making. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap.
Yes, you can make this up to 2 days in advance and store it in the fridge. It makes an excellent Christmas or holiday dessert and serves 8 to 10 people. If you'd like to make it further in advance, you can freeze the cheesecake as long as you leave off the cherry topping. See the next question below.
Yes, you can freeze black forest cheesecake if you leave off the cherry topping. The cherry topping contains cornstarch and I don't recommend freezing it as it can become watery when thawed. Wrap the chocolate cheesecake tightly or place it in an airtight container to freeze. It can be frozen for 1 to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and add the cherry topping, whipped cream, and cherries right before serving.