Black Forest Chocolate Trifle

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Black Forest Chocolate Trifle is an extraordinary dessert that is surprisingly easy to make.  Layers of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding and cherry pie filling form a beautiful make ahead dessert that everyone loves!

A sprinkle of cherry brandy (kirsch) or Amaretto (or a little of both!) add extra flavor and sophistication to this fabulous treat with little effort. Topped with whipped cream and cherry pie filling it is a sweet treat!

Prepared black forest trifle garnished with cherry pie filling and mint leaves.

What is Trifle?

A traditional trifle is an English dessert layering sponge cake, custard, a splash of liquor and often fruit. Layered like a parfait, trifles are the perfect dish to feed a crowd and are best made ahead of time and topped with whipped cream just before serving.

Here, the classic Black Forest flavor combo of cherry and chocolate give it the name. Prepare it in a pretty trifle bowl, present it at the table, then sit back and enjoy the “oohs!” and “ahhs!” There’s nothing trivial about the reaction you’ll get!

Overview of black forest trifle ingredients being layered in a trifle dish.

How to Layer Trifle

This recipe calls for a little liquor, but it is totally optional.  You could leave it out, or substitute non-alcoholic flavorings if you’re serving this to kids. Another possible variation is to use crisp chocolate wafers instead of the cake. Try a sprinkle of chopped nuts on top for some crunch (almonds are a great pairing with cherry).

  1. Place half of the cake in the bottom of the bowl and drizzle with liquor (see recipe below).
  2. Alternate layers of trifle pudding, cherries, and cream.
  3. Top with whipped cream, refrigerate and serve ice cold.

Trifle can be made in any number of flavor combinations. Yellow cake layered with bananas and vanilla pudding is fabulous.

A serving of black forest trifle topped with whipped cream, mint leaves, and chocolate shavings.

Can It Be Made in Advance?

Actually, this is one dessert you want to make in advance – but not too far. A day or two ahead, (or the morning of your meal but at least 4 hours), is optimal to allow the flavors to develop and the ingredients to firm and meld.  You also want to serve it chilled.

To make in advance, refrain from putting the final layer of whipped cream on the top (as the chocolate trifle sits, the top make sink a little bit lower in the dish). Tightly cover with cling wrap and refrigerate. Top with a fresh layer of whipped cream just before presenting.

Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge, although you might find the cake gets a little bit mushy over time.

Can You Freeze Trifle?

Pudding and cake freeze well, but whipped cream does not, so better not plan on freezing this one. But hey, that’s ok! It’s unlikely you’ll ever have to worry about long term storage of this delectable treat!

Perfectly Layered Trifles & Parfaits

Black Forest Trifle

Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Refrigerate 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 10 minutes
Servings 12
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Chocolaty, fruity and creamy Black Forest Trifle is an extraordinary dessert to die for.


  • 9x13 chocolate cake baked according to package or recipe directions
  • 30 oz cherry pie filling
  • 4 oz kirsch or cherry brandy or ameretto
  • 2 boxes chocolate pudding prepared according to directions
  • 16 oz whipped topping defrosted

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  1. Bake chocolate cake according to package directions. Cool completely. Cut cake into 1" cubes.
  2. Prepare pudding as directed.
  3. Place 1/2 of the cake in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Drizzle with kirsch if using.
  4. Top with half of the pudding, half of the cherries and half of the whipped topping. Repeat layers ending with whipped topping.
  5. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with sprinkles or shaved chocolate if desired.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 403, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 566mg, Potassium: 269mg, Carbohydrates: 69g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 34g, Protein: 4g, Vitamin A: 173%, Vitamin C: 3%, Calcium: 91%, Iron: 2%

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword Black Forest Trifle
Top view of a serving of black forest trifle. Garnished with mint leaves and chocolate shavings.
Top view of a serving of black forest trifle. Garnished with mint leaves and chocolate shavings.
Top photo shows the top view of a serving of black forest trifle, garnished with mint leaves and chocolate shavings. Bottom photo shows a fully prepared black forest trifle garnished with cherry pie filling and mint leaves.

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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