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This Black Forest Poke Cake is filled with decadent layers of chocolate cake, silky chocolate pudding, tart cherry pie filling, and a creamy layer of whipped topping. With simple ingredients and effortless prep, this poke cake transforms a popular layer cake into quick and easy no-fuss deliciousness!

A slice of black forest poke cake topped with a cherry.

I love a simple dessert that gives you made-from-scratch flavor, like today’s easy four-layer cake.

The “cherry on top” of this recipe? It’s made with no fuss (or even less) in just 35 minutes. Then, one hour to chill in the fridge, and you have a moist and decadent dessert!

If you’re craving more cherry masterpieces with basic ingredients, check out more of my easy desserts, like ooey-gooey Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake and flaky, buttery Air Fryer Cherry Hand Pies.

Ingredient Notes

  • Chocolate cake mix: Grab your favorite box of chocolate cake mix along with the ingredients noted on the box, like milk, vegetable oil or butter, and eggs.
  • Chocolate pudding: For a gooey, chocolatey, and moist poke cake, spread a prepared box of instant chocolate pudding mix on top and allow it to seep into the holes. – Delish!
  • Milk: Use cold whole milk to combine with the chocolate pudding mix for extra creamy and thick results.
  • Pie filling: Give the poke cake a tangy-sweet layer with cherry pie filling. The better the quality, the better the results!
  • Whipped topping: The fluffy whipped topping, like Cool Whip, makes each bite of cake creamy, cutting the tartness of the pie filling and the richness of chocolate for a well-balanced taste.
  • Chocolate: After chilled, sprinkle the top of the cake with semi-sweet chopped chocolate or shavings of good-quality chocolate to showcase more chocolatey goodness.
A labeled image of ingredients needed for black forest poke cake.

Variations and Substitutions

  • White Forest Poke Cake: If preferred, substitute the chocolate cake mix for a vanilla, white, or yellow cake for a Vanilla and Cherry Poke Cake. The rich chocolate is delicious with the tart cherry filling, but classic vanilla is another excellent option!
  • Chocolate Raspberry Poke Cake: Swap the cherry pie filling with raspberry. You could also use blackberry, blueberry, or another favorite.
  • Mocha Black Forest Poke Cake: Infuse coffee flavor by adding expresso powder or coffee into the cake or pudding layer.
  • Layered Parfait: Create individual Black Forest parfaits by layering crumbled chocolate cake, pudding, cherry filling, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings in glasses.
  • Make Your Own Whipped Topping: Let’s be honest– Homemade whipped cream is always better! If you want to skip the frozen pre-made topping, check out this easy Homemade Whipped Cream recipe that uses heavy whipping cream and sugar.
  • Chocolate Love: Some recipes swap the chocolate pudding for a jar of hot fudge sauce, so feel free to adjust the recipe accordingly.
  • Nutty Twist: Incorporate chopped nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans into the cake batter or as a topping for added crunch and flavor.
  • Don’t want to shave chocolate? Use mini chocolate chips instead of chocolate shavings or crumbles.

How To Make Chocolate Cherry Poke Cake

Be sure to see the recipe card below for exact ingredients and full recipe instructions!

Step 1 | Bake cake and poke holes

Here we go! Start by gathering the ingredients noted on the box cake mix and baking the cake in a preheated oven according to the directions on the packaging.

Once it is finished cooking, remove the hot dish from the oven and cool the cake while it’s still in the pan. (Do not take it out of the pan!) Once the cake is cool, use the round end of a wooden spoon to poke holes in the top of the cake, like in the picture below.

Note: Each hole should be around an inch apart to get the perfect balance of the cake and filling.

Cake mix ingredients in bowl and cake baked and holes poked.

Step 2 | Mix pudding and spread on cake

Meanwhile, let’s get the pudding ready. Whisk together the pudding mix and milk in a medium bowl. When it’s nice and thick, pour the chocolate pudding over the cooled cake, spreading it with a rubber spatula to cover the surface evenly.

Use the spatula to gently press the pudding into the holes.

Pudding mixed together and added evenly over cooled cake.

Step 3 | Add the pie filling

Time for the fruity layer. Carefully spread the cherry pie filling right over top of the pudding layer.

Cherry pie filling added on top of pudding layer and evenly spread out.

Step 4 | Spread whipped topping and chill

Finally, gently spread the whipped topping over the cherry pie layer. Then, place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour, allowing the pudding to set and the flavors to meld.

Don’t rush the process! Perfection takes time.

Thawed whipped topping added and even spread over pie filling layer.

Step 5 | Add toppings and serve!

When the gorgeous layers are ready to serve, sprinkle the cake with shaved or chopped chocolate and garnish with maraschino or fresh cherries if desired.

Then, slice with a warm knife and enjoy!

Chocolate shavings added to whipped topping layer.

Tips

  • Cake Pan Size– While you can generally use any size or shape of baking dish, I like using a classic 9×13-inch pan for this recipe.
  • Thaw Whipped Topping– Don’t forget to set a container of frozen whipped topping in the refrigerator the night before you start the recipe so it’s thawed and ready to spread! If you miss this step (I’ve been there), try leaving the topping on the countertop at room temperature for at least half an hour. Or use the microwave defrost setting (or low setting), with 20 to 30-second increments, stirring between heating, until it’s fluffy, smooth, and spreadable.
  • Avoid Overmixing- Be careful not to overmix the cake batter to produce a fluffy and tender crumb instead of a dense and tough texture.
  • Cool before poking holes and layering. For the best results, let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes poking the holes. If you poke it fresh out of the oven, it will be too soft and make it messy. You also want the cake completely cooled before adding the pudding and whipped topping so they don’t melt.
  • Warm Knife– For those perfectly cut slices of this ooey gooey cake, dip your knife in warm water, then slice. And be sure to wipe the knife off between cuts. That way the knife glides easily through the goodness.
A slice of cake being removed from serving pan.

Recipe FAQs

What is Black Forest Cake?

Traditionally, black forest cake is made of several layers of chocolate cake, cherry filling, and whipped cream and is often garnished with more whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and rich chocolate shavings. Alcohol or cherry liqueur is also a common ingredient.

Today’s recipe is almost exactly like the classic chocolate cherry cake but made poke-cake-style! In other words, it’s a simplified version of the traditional recipe combined with the signature poke cake trait of holes in the top and pudding to bring extra moisture and a gooey bite.

Why is it called Black Forest Cake?

The certain reasoning behind the name of this cake recipe has yet to be discovered. Some relate it to the Black Forest mountain range in Germany, but it more likely comes from the specialty liquor of the area made from tart cherries.

Can you make gluten-free poke cake?

Sure! In fact, it is a great idea since gluten-free cakes are often dryer than regular flour cakes. Use a gluten-free chocolate cake mix and ensure the pie filling, whipped topping, and pudding are certified gluten-free. If they aren’t labeled gluten-free, find a certified product to make the gluten-free poke cake safe for those with allergies or intolerances.

A slice of black forest poke cake with a bite taken out of it.

Storage & Make Ahead

How to Store Finished Poke Cake: Store finished or leftover poke cake by keeping it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Honestly, it tastes better as it sits.

Prep Cake Ahead: To prep further ahead of time, you can bake the cake and store it at room temperature for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to serve, poke the holes and add the fillings (you could also prep pudding ahead of time) and toppings. Then chill for the best flavor before serving.

More Easy and Delicious Poke Cake Recipes

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A slice of black forest poke cake.
Recipe
4.75 from 8 votes

(click stars to rate)

Black Forest Poke Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 15 servings
Author: Nikki Lee
Gooey and chocolatey Black Forest Poke Cake has a rich chocolate cake base with silky-smooth chocolate pudding, tart cherry pie filling, and a creamy whipped topping layered on top.
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Ingredients 

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (plus ingredients on the box), (15.25 ounce cake)
  • 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix, (3.4 ounce)
  • 1 ½ cups cold whole milk
  • 1 can cherry pie filling, (21 ounces)
  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topped, thawed
  • cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions

  • According to the package directions prepare the cake, in a 9×13-inch pan. Cool the cake in the pan.
  • Once the cake has cooled, poke holes, using the round handle of a wooden spoon, in the cake every inch or so.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the pudding mix and milk until it thickens.
  • Pour the pudding over the cake and spread it into an even layer with a rubber spatula while gently pressing it into the holes.
  • Spread the cherry pie filling over top of the pudding layer.
  • Then spread the whipped topping over the cherry pie layer. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour to allow the pudding to set and the flavors to meld.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle the cake with the chopped chocolate and garnish with cherries if desired. Slice and enjoy.

Notes

  • Cake Pan Size– While you can generally use any size or shape of baking dish, I like using a classic 9×13-inch pan for this recipe.
  • Thaw Whipped Topping– Don’t forget to set a container of frozen whipped topping in the refrigerator the night before you start the recipe so it’s thawed and ready to spread! If you miss this step, try leaving the topping on the countertop at room temperature for at least half an hour. Or use the microwave defrost setting (or low setting), with 20 to 30-second increments, stirring between heating, until it’s fluffy, smooth, and spreadable.
  • Avoid Overmixing- Be careful not to overmix the cake batter to produce a fluffy and tender crumb instead of a dense and tough texture.
  • Cool before poking holes and layering. For the best results, let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes poking the holes. If you poke it fresh out of the oven, it will be too soft and make it messy. You also want the cake completely cooled before adding the pudding and whipped topping so they don’t melt.
  • Warm Knife– For those perfectly cut slices, dip your knife in warm water, then slice. And be sure to wipe the knife off between cuts. That way, the knife glides easily through the layers.
STORAGE: Store cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving Calories: 253kcal (13%) Carbohydrates: 44g (15%) Protein: 4g (8%) Fat: 8g (12%) Saturated Fat: 3g (19%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0.001g Cholesterol: 5mg (2%) Sodium: 357mg (16%) Potassium: 232mg (7%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 20g (22%) Vitamin A: 149IU (3%) Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) Calcium: 97mg (10%) Iron: 2mg (11%)

Nutritional Disclaimer

Soulfully Made is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh man, I have to make this happen soon! 🙂 I just love a good poke cake, and this one looks fantastic.

  2. 5 stars
    This was everything a gourmet dessert should be, and then some! Turned out perfectly light, fluffy and decadent; easily, a new favorite recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I love a black forest gateaux but would never have the time to make it. This cake has all the flavours and none of the stress. Perfect.