Black Forest Trifle

This is a fun twist on a classic dessert that I love - black forest cake but make it a trifle. It is made with layers of chocolate cake (a soft fluffy sponge works great), chocolate custard or pudding, cherry pie filling and pillowy soft vanilla whipped cream. The cake is drizzled with cherry liqueur for those signature Black Forest flavours. It makes for an impressive centrepiece to any dessert table - and yet so easy to make. This is a recipe that can easily be made with store bought ingredients or make each component from scratch with my simple homemade recipes for the super easy chocolate cake, simple and delicious cherry pie filling and creamy homemade chocolate pudding. They are all linked for easy access. The homemade whipped cream recipe is included below but feel free to use store bought whipped topping in a pinch. It’s a dessert that comes together very easily and quickly especially if you have made each component in advance or if you use storebougt ingredients. Speaking of ingredients - let’s break them down.

Black Forest Trifle

Black Forest Trifle Recipe Ingredients

There are a few ingredients that are a must have for a delicious Black Forest trifle

  • Cake - Traditionally a angle food cake or a sponge cake is used for trifles. They hold up nice to the extra liquid and ingredients piled on top. You will need a chocolate one for this recipe. Feel free to use a box cake recipe for chocolate cake or chiclet brownies - must be a 9x13 recipe or use my super easy homemade recipe which is made with pantry ingredients I bet you already have on hand. In a pinch you can use store bought prepared chocolate cake as well - pound cake or even brownies for a richer version 
  • Custard - Traditionally there is vanilla custard in most trifle recipes or a flavoured custard - this time we are going full on chocolate as it is a Black Forest version and you can use store bought instant box pudding for this recipe or you can use my easy homemade chocolate pudding recipe
  • Cream - This adds a delicious creaminess and keeps the cake nice and moist. I love the simplicity of homemade whipping cream and how it complements the chocolate cake and cherry flavors. But you can also use store bought whipped topping that has been thawed in a pinch. If you are making it you will also need a bit of sugar to lightly sweeten it and some vanilla extract for flavour 
  • Fruit - for this recipe we are using cherry pie filling and you can either use store bought or homemade cherry pie filling - I recommend my super easy and delicious homemade cherry pie filling recipe which can be made with with fresh or frozen cherries.
  • Cherry Liqueur - (a popular brand being Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser Black Forest Cherry Brandy) or cherry brandy is what Black Forest cake is infused with - it gives the cake its distinct flavour. I like to infuse the cakes with it or the cherry syrup. Use as much or as little as you like - making it as boozy as you like or feel free to leave it out or use cherry juice in its place. 

Black Forest Trifle

How to Make Black Forest Trifle:

  1. Make chocolate cake and slice into cubes or crumble once it has cooled 
  2. Make chocolate pudding and allow it to cool
  3. Make cherry pie filling or use storbought 
  4. Make whipped cream - or use store bought whipped topping 
  5. Assemble - layer the trifle starting with CAKE with some kirsch drizzles, followed by the CHOCOLATE PUDDING, then the CHERRY PIE FILLING, then WHIPPED CREAM - and REPEAT
  6. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight 
  7. Garnish before serving then dig in and enjoy!!

Black Forest Trifle

Make Ahead and Storage

  • Make ahead - Can I make this ahead of time? Yes! If you are making it 1-2 days ahead of time bake your cake and make your cream. Prepare your fruit but do not layer until a few hours before serving. Keep all three separate in air tight containers in the fridge. 
  • Storage - How long does this trifle last? Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Because of the fruit it won’t last more than a few days in the fridge. 

Black Forest Trifle

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Black Forest Trifle


Servings: 8 (makes one 9 inch medium size trifle bowl) 
Prep Time: 20 mins
Bake Time: 30-40 min to bake cake (if baking cake) 
Non Active Time: 1-4 hours or overnight for chilling 


  • One 9×13 chocolate cake or brownie baked according to package or recipe directions (or use my homemade easy chocolate sheet cake recipe)
  •  30 ounces cherry pie filling, (approx 2 cups) store bought or my easy homemade recipe
  • 4 ounces kirsch or cherry brandy, any cherry liqueur or ameretto, cherry juice for non alcoholic version 
  • 2 boxes chocolate pudding, (90 grams each) prepared according to directions or make my homemade version

For the Whipped Cream (or substitute with 3 cups whipped topping defrosted)

  • 1 ½ cups cold heavy whipping cream or double cream 
  • 2-4 tablespoons (15-30 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Garnishing

  • Fresh cherries 
  • Shaved chocolate
  • Chocolate sprinkles 
  • Icing sugar or cocoa powder for dusting


For the Cake

  1. Bake chocolate cake according to package directions or homemade recipe.
  2. Cool completely. Cut cake into 1” cubes.

For the Pudding

  1. Prepare pudding as directed or using my homemade recipe and allow to cool. 

For the Whipped Cream

  1. Prepare whipped cream - In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
  2. Start mixing on low speed. Once the mixture starts to increase in volume, or soft peaks increase the speed to medium-high until stiff peaks form.


  1. Place ½ of the cake in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Pressing down a little. Drizzle with ½ the kirsch if using.
  2. Top with half of the pudding, then half of the cherries and half of the whipped cream. Repeat layers ending with whipping cream. 
  3. Cover and chill in the fridge for 1-4 hours or overnight for best results. 
  4. Before serving garnish with fresh cherries, chocolate sprinkles or shaved chocolate if desired. Serve chilled. 

Black Forest Trifle