Black Forest Cheesecake

This delicious chocolate cherry cheesecake is made in an air fryer (although you could absolutely bake it in the oven). The result is a mousse-like, creamy cake with absolutely no crack in the top.

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Looking down on a black forest cheesecake with a cake server and some napkins near by.

What is Black Forest Cheesecake?

Black Forest Cheesecake is a deliciously smooth and creamy chocolate cheesecake, topped with dark sweet cherries and whipped cream. It’s the combination of chocolate, boozy cherries and whipped cream that gives it the “Black Forest” moniker. The Black Forest is in Germany, and although this combination of flavors wasn’t named for the Black Forest itself, it was named for the famous cherry liqueur that comes from that area – Kirschwasser. The recipe below combines those great flavors, using Kirschwasser (or brandy if you can’t find the cherry liqueur), but differs from other cheesecake recipes in that it uses an air fryer to bake the cake. If you want to make this cheesecake in the oven, follow the instructions for the cheesecake batter as written below, but use these instructions for baking.

Ingredients on a marble countertop - sour cream, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, eggs, sugar, cream cheese, butter, chocolate wafers.

Cheesecake Ingredients

Despite what you may think, cheesecakes are one of the easiest desserts to make. The ingredients required are very basic and common. The most important thing to remember when getting your ingredients together is to make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature. Trying to beat the cream cheese when it is too cold will only bring frustration. Just let it come to room temperature an hour or two before you’re ready to start mixing the batter. 

A hand pressing cookie crumbs down in a springform pan with a wooden spoon. A bowl of eggs, chocolate chips, cream cheese and a kitchen towel near by.

Chocolate Cheesecake Crust

The hardest part of making this chocolate cheesecake crust is not snacking on the chocolate wafers! Hopefully, you’ll be able to resist and have enough left to process them easily in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, roll the wafers with a rolling pin between two pieces of parchment paper until they are fine crumbs. You could also use cream filled chocolate sandwich cookies instead of wafers, omit the sugar and add only enough butter to bring the crumbs together – you might not need any butter at all. Press the crushed cookies into the pan and then flatten firmly with a flat spoon.

A hand mixer mixing cream cheese in a tilting stainless steel bowl with other ingredients around.

Tips for Cheesecake Success

The one thing we don’t want to see in our finished cheesecake is a big crack across the top. There are a couple of ways to avoid this. The first comes in the mixing stage. Beat the cream cheese and sugar really well. Don’t hold back. This is your chance to get rid of any cream cheese lumps. Once you start adding the eggs, however, beat only as much as you need to in order to get the eggs to incorporate into the batter. Eggs (specifically the whites) will hold air if you beat them too much. That air expands in the oven and looks for an escape route, forming a crack in the top as the cheesecake bakes. So, solution… don’t beat the batter too much once the eggs have been added. 

Pouring cheesecake batter into a springform pan. A cheesecake baking in an air fryer oven.

How to Air-Fry Cheesecake

If you’re making this cheesecake in a 9-inch springform pan, you’ll need to use an air fryer oven rather than a basket-style air fryer. That’s not to say you can’t make this with a basket-style air fryer – you can! You just need to adjust the recipe by using a pan the right size (7-inches for most air fryers) and reducing the quantity of ingredients accordingly. (If you print the recipe below, you’ll see the adjusted ingredient quantities under the Notes.) Regardless of which style of air fryer you are using, a cheesecake bakes in two stages in an air fryer. During the first stage of baking, the cheesecake should be covered with aluminum foil. Do your best to tent that foil on top so that it doesn’t touch the batter, but make sure you tuck the foil under the bottom of the pan so that it doesn’t blow off in the air fryer. The second stage of baking is done uncovered. Then, let the cheesecake cool for 30 to 60 minutes in the turned off air fryer before moving it to room temperature and letting it cool completely. When it has reached room temperature, cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Overnight refrigeration is much better. This slow transition from the hot air fryer to the fridge is the second key to not getting a big crack in the top surface.

A spatula sticking out of a pan with cherries inside - the topping for black forest cheesecake.

Cherry topping for Cheesecake

The cherry topping for the cheesecake is very simple. Just combine the cornstarch and sugar and toss it in a pan with the cherries and kirschwasser (or brandy). It only takes a few minutes and then let this cool completely – you don’t want to put hot cherries on a cool cheesecake.

A hand spooning cherries onto the middle of a black forest cheesecake.

Decorating Black Forest Cheesecake

You could decorate this Black Forest Cheesecake a million different ways. Pipe the whipped cream in whatever pattern you like, but make sure it forms a complete rim around the top of the cheesecake. It’s the job of the whipped cream to keep the cherries on top. Then, spoon the cherries into the center, saving any of the liquid sauce for later. When you are serving the cheesecake, you can drizzle the sauce over each slice.

A close up of a slice of black forest cheesecake on a blue rimmed white plate.

Making Cheesecake Ahead

Making cheesecake ahead of time is not an option, it’s a requirement! You should always plan on making a cheesecake a day ahead of time so that it has enough time in the refrigerator to really set up. You can even freeze the cheesecake (undecorated), keeping it frozen for several weeks if it is wrapped well. Then, let it defrost in your refrigerator and decorate it just before serving. THAT makes dessert even easier than any of your guests could ever imagine.

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Black Forest Cheesecake - Air Fryer Version

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 2 h 10 m
  • Resting Time: 2 h
  • Total Time: 4 h 30 m
  • Servings:
    12
    people

Ingredients

  • cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies (10 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 24 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • cups sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Cherry Topping:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cherry liqueur (or brandy)
  • 3 cups frozen pitted dark sweet cherries (15 ounces)

Instructions

  1. Butter the sides and the bottom of a deep 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Process the chocolate water cookies in a food processor until ground into crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and stir in the sugar and melted butter until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Air-fry the crust at 325°F for 10 minutes and then set aside.
  4. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler (or in the microwave in 30 second intervals) stirring regularly. Set the melted chocolate aside to cool.
  5. Sift the cocoa powder into the sugar to remove any lumps and stir to combine in a small bowl. With an electric beater, beat the cream cheese until very smooth. Add the sour cream and sugar-cocoa powder mixture and continue to beat on medium-high speed until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time, beating only enough to incorporate the eggs into the mixture. Pour the cooled melted chocolate into the cake batter and stir until combined.
  6. Transfer the batter to the springform pan on top of the pre-baked crust. Cover the pan with aluminum foil tightly but tent the foil on top a little so that it doesn’t touch the batter.
  7. Air-fry at 300°F for 40 minutes in the middle of the oven. Remove the foil and air fry for another 40 to 50 minutes until the cheesecake has set in the middle. Let the cheesecake cool in the air fryer for 30 minutes to one hour and then remove the cake from air fryer and cool to room temperature. Wrap the room temperature cheesecake with plastic wrap and transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  8. To make the cherry topping, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, whisking to break up any lumps. Add the liqueur and the cherries and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer for a minute or two until the mixture thickens slightly. Set the cherries aside until ready to assemble.
  9. To assemble, run a knife dipped in warm water around the edges of the cheesecake and unmold the cake. Whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks with a whisk or electric beater. Place the whipped cream in a piping bag or zip lock bag with the corner cut off. Pipe swirls or dots of whipped cream around the edges of the cake. Spoon the cherries on top of the cake inside the whipped cream rim and chill until ready to serve.
  10. Cut the cake into wedges and serve, drizzling a little cherry sauce over the top.

Black Forest Cheesecake - Oven Version

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 2 h 10 m
  • Resting Time: 2 h
  • Total Time: 4 h 30 m
  • Servings:
    12
    people

Ingredients

  • cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies (10 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 24 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • cups sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Cherry Topping:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cherry liqueur (or brandy)
  • 3 cups frozen pitted dark sweet cherries (15 ounces)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325˚F.

  2. Butter the sides and the bottom of a deep 9-inch springform pan.

  3. Process the chocolate water cookies in a food processor until ground into crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and stir in the sugar and melted butter until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the 9-inch springform pan.

  4. Air-fry the crust at 325°F for 10 minutes and then set aside.

  5. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler (or in the microwave in 30 second intervals) stirring regularly. Set the melted chocolate aside to cool.

  6. Sift the cocoa powder into the sugar to remove any lumps and stir to combine in a small bowl. With an electric beater, beat the cream cheese until very smooth. Add the sour cream and sugar-cocoa powder mixture and continue to beat on medium-high speed until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time, beating only enough to incorporate the eggs into the mixture. Pour the cooled melted chocolate into the cake batter and stir until combined.

  7. Transfer the batter to the springform pan on top of the pre-baked crust. Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in aluminum foil to create a completely waterproof seal. Place the springform pan in a larger baking pan. Fill the larger baking pan with water until it halfway up the sides of the springform pan, creating a water bath.

  8. Bake at 325˚F for one hour. After one hour, the center of the cheesecake should still jiggle when you tap the pan gently. Turn off the oven, and leave the cheesecake in the closed oven for another hour. Then remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature on your kitchen counter. Wrap the room temperature cheesecake with plastic wrap and transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

  9. To make the cherry topping, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, whisking to break up any lumps. Add the liqueur and the cherries and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer for a minute or two until the mixture thickens slightly. Set the cherries aside until ready to assemble.

  10. To assemble, run a knife dipped in warm water around the edges of the cheesecake and unmold the cake. Whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks with a whisk or electric beater. Place the whipped cream in a piping bag or zip lock bag with the corner cut off. Pipe swirls or dots of whipped cream around the edges of the cake. Spoon the cherries on top of the cake inside the whipped cream rim and chill until ready to serve.

  11. Cut the cake into wedges and serve, drizzling a little cherry sauce over the top.

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Comments (13)Post a Reply

  1. Hello Meredith,

    This Black Forrest Cheesecake looks and sounds AMAZING. My question to you is can I cut the recipe in half for a 6″ spring form? It’s just my wife and I and a standard size cake is just TOO BIG. If we can divide the measurements in half do we need to adjust the air fryer temperature and cooking time as well? Thank you for your input.

    1. Yes you can reduce the ingredients and use a smaller pan. The time and temperature would stay the same as long as the batter fills up about three quarters of the pan. If less, then it may take a little less time to cook through. Set the timer for about 15 minutes less and then add additional time as needed.

    1. Yes you can bake the cheesecake in a regular oven at 300°F for 1 hour and then turn off the oven and let it rest in the oven for 1 hour. Then transfer it to the counter and bring to room temperature before chilling in the fridge. You will also want to bake the cheesecake in a water bath. Follow the directions in Meredith’s basic cheesecake recipe for more info on baking in a water bath. https://bluejeanchef.com/recipes/vanilla-cheesecake/

  2. 5 stars
    Would it be possible to make this more diabetic friendly? For instance using stevia instead of sugar? If yes, substitute 1 for 1?
    TIA

    1. You can use a sugar substitute in this recipe. For most of them you will use less of the sugar substitute than sugar. You can refer to the information on the package to use the correct ratio for the sugar substitute.

  3. This looks incredible and I can’t wait to make it. I have a quick question though, can this be made in a convection oven, either conventional or small toaster? I have the convection option for both. Thanks for another incredible recipe.

    1. You can bake this cheesecake in a water bath in convection oven at 300°F for 1 hour and then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. Then cool on the counter to room temperature before chilling in the fridge. For more info on prepping for the water bath, you can reference Meredith’s recipe for basic cheesecake. https://bluejeanchef.com/recipes/vanilla-cheesecake/

    1. Thin Mints are coated in chocolate and would not work for this recipe. If you can’t find plain chocolate cookies you can also use sandwich cookies, such as Oreos®, just omit the extra sugar in the crust ingredients.

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