The Resurgence of the '90s: The Best Black Forest Cakes in Manila
Of the many variants of cake, the Black Forest is among those that get the least attention. Not a lot of dessert places in Manila offer the famed chocolate-fruit cream cake medley, much to the dismay of ‘90s kids who have come to associate it with memories of their childhood. At some point in their younger years, we’re going to bet that the Black Forest made an appearance on these kids’ birthdays, family gatherings, or holiday festivities.
It’s not quite clear how the cake came to be, but many say in its most authentic form, a quality Black Forest cake is one that successfully marries the sweet tones of chocolate and cream with the slightly sour aftertaste of cherries. When taken together, these should make for rich, delicious forkfuls that would be hard to resist.
While we love the Black Forest cakes offered by large-scale outfits like Red Ribbon, Goldilocks, and Max’s, we zeroed in our favorite stops that have remained true to how the cake ought to taste: fudgy but not cloying, and with the slightly sour cherry notes shining through.
1| The Pastry Cart
It’s the crème brûlée cake that put The Pastry Cart on our radar for some of the best dessert stops in Manila, but the latest addition to its arsenal of sweets, the Black Forest, is worthy of rave reviews as well. The small bakery’s take is anchored on a powerful chocolate cake base with a kirsch (a brandy traditionally made from morello cherries) flavor and topped with a generous serving of fresh cherries (read: not bottled). The cake is available in two sizes: 6” and 9”.
2| Becky’s Kitchen
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This bakery and pastry shop has been around for years and rightfully so: Its extensive lineup of baked goods, savory snacks, and sweet creations assures there really is something for everybody. If you happen to love Becky’s Swiss Chocolate Cake, you’re bound to enjoy every bite of its Black Forest variant too. After all, each cake you grab at Becky’s keeps to the bakeshop’s trademark touch: home-baked goodness flawlessly taken up a notch.
1061 Pablo Ocampo cor. Bautista Streets, Singalong, Manila, and the Community Center, Suha Street, Valle Verde 1, Ugong, Pasig City
3| Cuerva Bakeshop
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Every bakeshop has a couple of fan favorites and for Cuerva, it’s the Mango Torte and the Honey Cake that get dessert fans excited. Everything at Cuerva pays homage to the founder, Paz Reyes-Cuerva, who first started baking for friends and family. Now, with the matriarch’s children at the helm, the home baker’s legacy of delicious quality desserts lives on, and has since expanded to a wider bevy of cakes featuring chocolate and a variety of fruits. For a taste of both in one go, take on an offbeat choice: the Black Forest, which is comprised of rich layers of dark chocolate cake, intertwined with cream and cherry sauce and finished off with cherries and chocolate shavings.
2nd Floor Petron Complex, Dasmarinas Village, EDSA corner Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City, and 2nd Floor, 8 Missouri Center, 8 Missouri St. Greenhills, San Juan
4| Mom & Tina’s Bakery Café
Yet another stop for all your sweet dreams is Mom & Tina’s, which, like many of its contemporaries, started as a pastime among family members before blossoming into a full-fledged café-bakery. The popular dining spot for comfort food and quality baked goods successfully recreates a scene of your own home. Of their cakes, do have a helping of their Black Forest variant, a delicate take on the German recipe, where they’ve successfully highlighted the subtle undertones of chocolate fudge and cherries.
If we’re talking nostalgia, Aristocrat, which has been around since the 30s, will rank as a top contender for local restaurant chains we’ve loved through the years. It’s a no brainer that the restaurant’s barbecued classics are what draw crowds in, but if you’ve in the mood for desserts after a full meal, its made-from-scratch baked goods are as commendable. Start with a slice of their Black Forest cake, a creation of interlocked layers of chocolate sponge and cream, adorned with hefty chocolate shavings, dollops of more cream, and cherry slices.
6| Café Maxims
Maxims Hotel’s lobby café and lounge is a trove for your black forest cravings, and then some. Find here not just a well-done take on the classic Black Forest cake, but also other fun renditions inspired by the cake’s traditional flavors: a gelato variant and a blended drink. The defining factor of Café Maxims’ Black Forest delights is each one’s dense base, so do expect the flavors of each one to be a bit deeper compared to others you will find in the Metro.
Maxims Hotel, Newport Boulevard, Newport City, Pasay City
The beauty of today’s dining scene is that many continue to experiment on elevating well-loved favorites, including the Black Forest cake. Aside from our kitchen experiments, we uncovered some more places in Manila that have reinvented the distinct flavor of the Black Forest, in ways they best know.
1| Cara Mia Gelateria
Cara Mia’s nod to the classic Black Forest cake comes in the form of is its Cherry Chocolate Bliss Ice Cream Cake and Black Forest Spell Affogato. Both are beautifully adorned creations comprised of the usual suspects, which they pair with coffee ice cream: chocolate mousse, cherries, and a hint of liquor.
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There are many sundae variants at Farmacy, Wildflour’s little sister for rich milkshakes and mouthwatering afters, but it’s the Black Forest that takes the cake. The Black Forest Sundae celebrates the intense flavors of double chocolate ice cream, cherry-chocolate sauce, brownies, chocolate chips, and fresh cherries.
Ground Floor, Net Lima, 4th Avenue Corner 26th Streets, BGC; Ground Floor, O-Square 1 Building, Greenhills Shopping Center, Ortigas Avenue Corner Wilson Street, Greenhills, San Juan City; and The Garage, Upper Ground Floor, City of Dreams Manila, Aseana Boulevard Corner Macapagal Avenue, Entertainment City, Parañaque City
A Starbucks off-the-menu item that pays tribute to the classic marriage of chocolate and cherries is its Frappuccino a la Black Forest Gateau. The ice-blended drink finds its base in either the Dark or White Mocha Frappuccino, and is then infused with pumps of raspberry syrup for a burst of choco-cherry flavor.
4| Bake & Churn
Bake & Churn finds its stronghold in ice cream cakes, and is now known to carry over 20 variants, including Black Forest. The ice cream shop’s Black Forest offering is served two ways: as an ice cream cake, or in bars that you can take to go.