John loves pancakes, so for his 30th birthday, I made black forest pancakes for breakfast. These were indulgent and chocolatey without being too sweet. These black forest pancakes are made by layering German chocolate pancakes, whipped cream, reduced black cherry juice and fresh cherries. They are a great way to mark any special occasion.
Black Forest Pancakes Recipe
for the Whipped Cream
1 cup of heavy whipping cream (35%)
1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar (Note: This whipped cream is not meant to be overly sweet.)
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the cream and sugar on the highest speed until soft peaks have been achieved. Then set aside in the refrigerator until ready for pancake assembly.
for the Black Cherry Sauce
Note: You could use 2 cups of black cherry juice and simply reduce it in a heavy bottomed sauce pot over enough heat to maintain a gentle simmer until it reduces and thickens to your desired consistency. I only had 1 cup of black cherry juice so I did as follows:
approximately 1 pound of large, fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1 cup of black cherry juice (Note: I used 1 bottle (250 ml/8.5 ounces) of Tabletree brand Black Cherry Juice with honey and cinnamon. If you are using pure black cherry juice, you could add a pinch of cinnamon and a light drizzle of honey.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed well with 3 tablespoons of water
Bring the black cherry juice to a gentle boil in a heavy bottomed sauce pot over medium high heat. Then whisk in the cornstarch and water very gradually until well combined. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil and then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add the fresh cherries and stir constantly until the desired consistency is achieved. Keep in mind that the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. If the sauce is too thick, stir in some water. When done, cover the pot with its lid and remove from heat until ready to serve. Serve warm over pancakes.
for the German Chocolate Pancakes
makes between 10 and 20 pancakes; adapted from Southern Living
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 pinch coarse Kosher sea salt
1/2 cup chocolate, finely chopped (Note: I’ve used dark chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate squares, but if you prefer a sweeter pancake, you could use milk or semi sweet chocolate.)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
more unsalted butter or vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring constantly until smooth. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Then remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir the butter into the melted chocolate until combined. Stir the cocoa powder into the warm melted until well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Then, while stirring the melted chocolate continuously, add the egg and sugar mixture in a thin, steady stream. Then stir in the milk. Once combined, gently mix in the dry ingredients until just moistened and combined. It is important not to overmix the batter.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium or medium high heat. Or use a griddle set to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the hot pan or griddle using butter and/or vegetable oil. Then ladle approximately 1/4 cup of the pancake batter onto the hot cooking surface. Cook until bubbles have surfaced and the edges look cooked, up to 3 minutes. Then flip the pancake over and cook until done, up to another 3 minutes. Both sides of the pancake should be nicely browned and the middle of the pancake should be soft, moist, and just cooked through. Do not overcook the pancakes. Place the cooked pancakes on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm until ready to assemble.
for the assembly
chocolate curls for garnish (optional)
I made 2 layer pancakes, but you could stack as many pancakes as you want. You could make a black forest pancake cake if you use more layers.
Place one pancake on a serving plate. Add some black cherry sauce onto the pancake and top with some whipped cream. Place another pancake on top. Repeat as many times as desired, but be sure to work quickly, because the whipped cream will melt and run. For the last (i.e. top) pancake layer, simply add a dollop of whipped cream, place a fresh cherry into the dollop of whipped cream, and drizzle some of the black cherry sauce all over the top and sides of the plate. Garnish with chocolate curls, if desired. Serve immediately.