Epicurean Adventure with Uniworld River Cruises and recipe for Black Forest Cake

Meals on board the ship also focus on the wines and foods of the region.  Restaurant de Versailles is the main dining room and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Lunch and dinner are served with local wines and beers and on several evenings,we had special theme menus that featured specialty dishes, primarily of German origin, prepared by Executive Chef Claudio and his culinary team.  There was also a more formal evening where an elegant dinner service was offered in the L’Orangerie, which is located on top level of the ship.


* L’Orangerie

We noticed that every few days, while in port, the ship took on fresh supplies, which was unique from other cruises we had been on.  Larger ships load once at the beginning of the cruise and have most everything required for that cruise.  Of course, fresher is always better, so we were excited to see the staff bring on board fresh ingredients several times during the week.  Meeting with Chef Claudio during the cruise, we learned that while the menus are planned in advance for the season and are created along with their Culinary Director, Global Master Chef Bernard Zorn, Chef Claudio can still be somewhat flexible.  When certain products come into season or Chef Claudio is able to source better, but different fish or other ingredients, he will make some adjustments to the menus.

Executive Chef Claudio

Executive Chef Claudio

A visit to the galley showed us a small, but very efficient kitchen.  Ninety-eight percent of the food served on the ship is prepared on board and serving 150 passengers three meals a day can be a challenge, but after opening the S.S. Antoinette in 2011, Chef Claudio and his team of approximately 18 people, have it mastered.  At the beginning of each season, the chef and his crew train together before the ship sets sail to learn the new menus.  Chef Claudio also trained for a full week with Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, one of the owners of Uniworld and founder and president of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection.  Ms. Tollman’s cookbook, A Life in Food, is also the inspiration for many of the recipes served on board the ship.

Cured meats at one of the outdoor markets

Cured meats at one of the markets

The canals in Amsterdam

The canals in Amsterdam

After a full day of excursions and sightseeing followed by our evening’s dinner with wine pairings, we were usually pretty tired, but did stay awake a few nights to enjoy some of the on board entertainment.  Our favorite spot was the Leopard Bar on the top level of the ship.  One of the musicians who played in that venue was particularly good and it was a nice way to unwind at the end of a busy day.  It was also a good time to regroup with fellow passengers and chat about the places we had visited.

Traveling to Europe in late fall was a very different experience from our previous trips.  We generally prefer months when it’s warmer (late spring or early fall) and I can only imagine that river cruising those times of year would be lovely.  Sightseeing from the sun deck, taking in the scenery at every turn as you cruise through the rivers of Europe, Russia, Asia, or Egypt while sipping a glass of wine…what could be more perfect?  However, cuddling up in the blankets offered on the top deck on a chilly day while sharing a bottle of champagne (as one couple did) was not a bad option either.  Next time I would like to wait for December, bundle up, and head for the Christmas Markets!  I am no longer deterred by the season because each offers a different experience.

This couple had the right idea!

This couple had the right idea!

Traveling by cruise ship has become a favorite way for us to see parts of Europe and the Caribbean.  We love waking up to an exciting new destination every day without having to move, we enjoy the company of fellow shipmates who appreciate fine food, wine, and travel as much as we do, and we enjoy the on board experiences and education that you gain while traveling.

We can understand why the appeal of river cruising has increased exponentially in the last few years and why this line in particular has excelled at the overall on board experience that is offered.  We appreciated the intimacy of the ship, the level of service and attention to detail from our cabin to the service in the dining room and the ship’s entire crew.

Select a destination and book a river cruise for your next adventure in the New Year!

Castles along the Rhine

Castles along the Rhine

Black Forest Cake

There are many versions of Black Forest Cake (also known as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte). This recipe for Black Forest Cake is the one that was served on board the S.S. Antoinette. We like the subtle sweetness and pronounced flavor of the Kirschwasser in the cake. Once the cake is assembled, it is best refrigerated overnight and then garnished with more whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh cherries and then served immediately.


For chocolate spongecake:
90 grams all-purpose flour
50 grams pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
30 grams coca powder (unsweetened)
6 eggs
170 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For cherry filling:
1 ounce (3 cl) cherry juice
20 grams cornstarch
20 grams sugar
2000 grams fresh sour cherries, pitted
3 cinnamon sticks

For the cherry cream:
2 teaspoons (1 cl) Kirschwasser
15 grams powdered sugar
200 grams heavy cream

For assembly:
Additional Kirschwasser

For garnish”
Additional Whipped Cream
Dark chocolate shavings
Fresh Sour Cherries, pitted


For chocolate spongecake:
1. Grease a 10-inch springform pan (or use nonstick spray). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder.
3. Combine eggs, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Place the bowl over hot water bath and whisk constantly until the temperature reaches about 110 degrees F (44 degrees C).
4. Whisk on high speed until the mixture has cooled, is foamy, and has turned pale yellow.
5. Incorporate cocoa-flour mixture, being careful to deflate the foam as little as possible.
6. Incorporate the melted butter. Pout mixture into springform pan. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) until done, usually about 20 minutes.
7. Let cool on a wire rack and then careful remove from pan.

For cherry filling:
1. In a medium pan, melt the sugar without any caramelization. Add the juice, cherries, and cinnamon sticks and slowly bring to a boil.
2. Let simmer for a few minutes and then use the cornstarch for thickening. Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and let cool.

For cherry cream:
1. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
2. Mix the Kirschwasser together with the powdered sugar and carefully fold into the whipped cream.

To assemble cake:
1. Cut the spongecake into three layers and prepare 1st layer by soaking the spongecake with Kirschwasser. Fill one layer with 1/3 cherry cream and then top with 1/3 cherry filling and cover with 2nd layer of spongecake. Soak the 2nd layer again with Kirschwasser and repeat layer of 1/3 cherry cream and 1/3 cherry filling. Top with 3rd layer and again soak with Kirschwasser. Top with remaining cherry cream and cherry filling. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Garnish with addition whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh sour cherries.

Chef Claudio and the culinary team
S. S. Antoinette
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Disclosure – We received a media package from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises to experience their Epicurean Adventure Cruise with the Castles Along the Rhine itinerary.   We were not compensated in any way for any articles written about the trip and the opinions expressed are our own.

* Some photographs in the article and video have been used with the express permission of Uniworld River Cruises.

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