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!
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!
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).
- Place half of the cake in the bottom of the bowl and drizzle with liquor (see recipe below).
- Alternate layers of trifle pudding, cherries, and cream.
- 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.
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
- Strawberry Trifle – layers of fresh berries & cheesecake filling!
- Caramel Chocolate Trifle – decadent, easy and divine!
- Pumpkin Pie Parfaits – perfect fall dessert
- Oreo Chocolate Cheesecake Parfaits – ready in 15 minutes!
- Cranberry Trifle Recipe – perfect combination of sweet & tart
- Strawberry Mousse Trifles – just 5 simple ingredients!
Black Forest Trifle
- 9x13 chocolate cake baked according to package or recipe directions
- 30 ounces cherry pie filling
- 4 ounces kirsch or cherry brandy or ameretto
- 2 boxes chocolate pudding prepared according to directions
- 16 ounces whipped topping defrosted
- Bake chocolate cake according to package directions. Cool completely. Cut cake into 1" cubes.
- Prepare pudding as directed.
- Place ½ of the cake in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Drizzle with kirsch if using.
- Top with half of the pudding, half of the cherries and half of the whipped topping. Repeat layers ending with whipped topping.
- Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with sprinkles or shaved chocolate if desired.