A version of Black Forest cake might have made its debut during the 16th century when bakers were experimenting by adding chocolate to cakes and cookies, per What’s Cooking America. But the first proper Black Forest cake didn’t appear until the 20th century. There is some dispute over who exactly deserves credit for making the dessert.
One version states that credit belongs to dessert chef Josef Keller, who made what he called a “Schwarzwälder Kirsch,” or a Black Forest Cherry, in 1915 when he mixed together cherries, schnapps, and cream, per Deutsche Welle (DW). But there is also evidence to show that a Black Forest gateau was invented by pastry chef Erwin Hildenbrand in 1930 (per DW).
How Black Forest cake is made depends on where you are, per Tori Avey. Whether in Britain or in the U.S., the chocolate sponge is soaked with sugar syrup flavored with cherry brandy and topped with whipped cream. Germans enjoy their Black Forest gateau as a chocolate cake made with cream and buttercream, while Austrians and Swiss frost their Black Forest Cakes with whipped cream to which a stabilizer like gelatin or corn starch has been added. While many of these different cakes may be styled as “Black Forest,” unless Schwarzwalder kirschwasser is involved, they cannot be considered the real thing no matter how gorgeous it looks or how delicious it tastes.