If you love the magnificent pairing of Chocolate with Cherry, you’ll love this Black Forest Trifle. Layers of Kirsch-soaked chocolate sponge, chunky cherry sauce, Mascarpone custard and lightly whipped cream, it takes trifle to new heights. Perfect for dinner parties, Christmas, Thanksgiving and celebrations. Recipe provided with gluten free chocolate sponge.
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Black Forest Trifle – Iconic flavours re-worked
Looking for an alternative dessert to wow? My Black Forest Trifle is just the thing. Originally born out of a spare chocolate cake found lurking in the freezer, it has all the iconic flavours of the better known Black Forest Cake (or Gateau)… But they’ve been deconstructed and reworked into one divine layered glass of trifle-yumciousness.
Actually, it’s one of my oldest recipes on the blog, making its first appearance back in 2013. But despite the passage of time, it’s held its own as one of our all-time favourites and is as delicious now as it was back in the day… The post itself however, has been given a little upgrade. It now has a printable recipe card and some twinkly new photos.
Chocolate Cherry Trifle with Black Forest Authenticity
For anyone unfamiliar with the flavours of ‘Black Forest’, it is a perfect marriage of chocolate and cherry, Kirsch (Cherry Brandy) and cream… Which makes it the perfect candidate for trifle enhancements. The original cake has its roots in Germany and became very popular in 1970’s Britain. As I recall, it seemed very ‘posh’ back then. But a pairing as perfect as this, also deserves its own place in the Gluten Free Alchemist trifle hall of fame…
And this particular Black Forest Trifle has all the flavour authenticity of its genuine German grandparent… The deep, rich chocolate cake soaked with all-important Kirsch (essential to anything culinarily ‘Black Forest’)… Layers of chunky cherry sauce for full-bodied fruitiness and flavour… Sumptuous Mascarpone-custard… And all topped with softly whipped cream and a sprinkle of dark chocolate.
Just like its gateau equivalent, it’s a very grown-up trifle.
Making Black Forest Trifle a Gluten Free Trifle
The Black Forest Trifle recipe shared in this post is amazing whether gluten free or not… The only special difference, is whether you need gluten free cake. And to be honest, making the cake is the trickiest part of any trifle… On the other hand, since it’s being cubed and layered, it doesn’t have to be a pretty cake or even home-made.
If making cake from scratch isn’t your thing (although I promise it’s very easy to do), then simply buy one ready-baked. A chocolate loaf cake or even a decent brownie will work fine.
For those of us who are Coeliac (Celiac) or who have to avoid gluten for health reasons, it’s really important to make sure the cake is gluten-safe. So if buying one, be sure to check the ingredients list for any hidden gluten or cross-contamination risk. I thoroughly recommend pushing the boat out however and making gluten free chocolate sponge from scratch. It will be less sweet and have a better texture than anything you’ll find in the supermarket. I’ve shared my favourite recipe in the recipe card below, to make it as straight forward as possible.
If you don’t need a gluten free cake, just make chocolate sponge you know you love…
Cherry Sauce for Chocolate Cherry Trifle
The recipe for Black Forest Trifle shared here offers a homemade Chunky Cherry Sauce. It’s not difficult and is quick to whip up… Even better, it will take your Chocolate Cherry Trifle to a superior level. And with that in mind, it’s definitely worth making.
As with the chocolate cake however, if you can’t be bothered to make cherry sauce or are in need of a dessert in a hurry, there is the option to sub with tinned or jarred cherry pie filling. It will be sweeter for sure (there is always way too much sugar added to commercial pie fillings), but it’s a back-up if needed. For Black Forest authenticity however, be sure to use a Black Cherry filling.
Why add Mascarpone to custard?
As with my recipe for Gluten Free Black Forest Cake, this Black Forest Trifle uses Mascarpone. It’s whipped into the custard for two reasons… First, to thicken and stabilise the layers, so that they remain distinct. Second, for decadence and the sheer joy of eating it. The Mascarpone softens the sweetness of the custard (which is shop-bought) as well as adding creamy richness. It takes Chocolate Cherry Trifle beyond the very 70’s texture of what always seemed like a brightly coloured children’s dessert and into the 21st century as something altogether more sophisticated.
Can I make Black Forest Trifle without Kirsch?
Although it is tradition that all things ‘Black Forest’ have Kirsch somewhere in the recipe, if making Chocolate Cherry Trifle for children, it would be wise to leave it out.
In the past, to make a non-alcohol, child-friendly version, I have instead drizzled cherry juice over the sponge, or alternatively (at Miss GF’s request) a little chocolate ice cream sauce. To be honest, with the chunky cherry sauce on the top, the trifle doesn’t really need either. That is, providing the sponge is suitably moist in the first place. Many gluten free sponges are dry and crumbly, so judge for yourself on that one. I do know however, that the recipe shared here for chocolate cake is perfect for Black Forest Trifle in both texture and flavour. So, if at all possible… give it a go!
When to serve Black Forest Trifle (Gluten Free or not)
Given its sophistication, my Black Forest Trifle is the ideal dessert to dress the table of dinner parties, or to serve at celebrations, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Layered in simple glasses, the contrasting colours and textures are both inviting and beautiful. A dessert that says we’re special, but with very little effort.
On the other hand… At GFHQ (such is the simplicity of its preparation), we have been known to enjoy Chocolate Cherry Trifle as a bog standard mid-week pudding too. I’m not sure whether I should be admitting that. But hey! Life is for living!
Made my Gluten Free Black Forest Trifle?
So, there we have it… Really quick, simple and delicious… Creamy, chocolatey, fruity, boozy, utterly divine gluten free (or not) Black Forest Trifle.
Let me know if you make it… Comment below, rate the recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️😁🤞, and/or tag me on social media with your trifle stories. (You’ll find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter). I’d love if you could share the post with Facebook groups and others too, so they know where to find the recipe.
And for lots of other gluten free recipe inspiration, do check out our Gluten Free Recipe Book Index… With over 400 FREE gluten free recipes to drool over, you’re sure to find something you like.
Thank you as always, for visiting Gluten Free Alchemist
Black Forest Trifle (with gluten free chocolate sponge)
- 1 x 8 inch non-stick baking tin
- oven + hob
- measuring jug
- silicone/wooden spoon
- sharp knife
- serving glasses
Chocolate Sponges – See NOTES
- 95 g plain white gluten free flour blend eg. Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A – See NOTES
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (leave out if using a commercial blend that already has xanthan gum added)
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp + a pinch of baking powder gluten free
- pinch fine sea salt
- 110 ml milk dairy free if necessary
- ½ tbsp white wine vinegar
- 20 g cocoa powder
- 38 ml boiling water
- 50 g butter (or good quality dairy free alternative) softened
- 140 g caster sugar
- 1 large egg At room temperature – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 50 g ground almonds (almond meal)
- 8 tbsp Kirsch (cherry liqueur) or cherry juice for children (approx volume)
Chunky Cherry Sauce
- 320 g black cherries fresh, frozen or tinned (unsweetened) – pitted and cut in half
- 150 ml water
- 3 tsp cornstarch (UK Cornflour)
- 125 g caster sugar
Whipped Mascarpone Custard
- 250 g custard good quality shop bought
- 125 g Mascarpone Italian cream cheese
- 200 ml double cream (US: heavy cream)
- 2 to 3 tbsp grated or crushed dark chocolate
- red edible glitter (optional)
- Base-line the baking tin with good-quality baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. TIP : weigh into an airtight container and shake well to blend. Set aside.
- Weigh or measure the milk into a jug and add the white wine vinegar. Stir thoroughly and leave to stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has a slightly curdled appearance. This will make 'buttermilk'
- Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl. Add the boiling water a little at a time, gently stirring through until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Break the egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork to blend, before gradually adding a little at a time to the butter mixture, beating thoroughly between each addition.
- Add the vanilla extract and cocoa paste and beat again, until smooth and well-blended.
- Gently fold in the ground almonds using a large spoon or spatula.
- Finally add and fold through the dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture, alternating a little dry followed by a little 'buttermilk' (about a third of each at a time). Fold gently to ensure as much air remains as possible and stop when the ingredients are JUST amalgamated to avoid over-mixing.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the top springs back and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
- Allow to cool completely.
Chunky Cherry Sauce (can be made ahead of time)
- Mix the corn flour, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
- Add the prepared cherries and stir through.
- Bring the mixture to the boil on a medium heat, stirring continuously.
- Continue to stir and simmer for about 3 minutes until the sauce thickens and becomes clear.
- Remove from the heat, set aside and leave to cool completely.
- Whisk the custard and Mascarpone together in a large bowl until well combined and starting to thicken in consistency.
- Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the trifle.
- Whisk the double cream in a medium sized bowl until it reaches a soft dropping consistency.
- Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the trifle
Assembling the trifles
- When the cherry sauce has cooled completely, line up the serving glasses ready to fill and have all the layer components ready to use.
- Cut the chocolate cake into small rectangular blocks.
- Place a layer of cake pieces in the bottom of the serving glasses/bowls.
- Drizzle the sponge with Kirsch (or cherry juice/chocolate sauce for a non-alcohol version) and then spoon some of the chunky cherry sauce over the top (reserving half for further layering).
- Next, spoon a layer of the Mascarpone-custard on top of the cherry sauce and gently spread evenly to the edge of the glass/bowl. (Reserve some for a further layer and leave room in the glass!)
- Arrange another layer of cake pieces on top of the custard and drizzle more liquor (or cherry juice/chocolate sauce) and then chunky cherry sauce on top. It is likely that you will have some cake left over at the end. Freeze for another trifle day!
- Top with a further layer of Mascarpone-custard.
- Lastly add the top layer (or a rounded spoonful) of whipped cream.
- Decorate with chocolate shavings and (optional) edible glitter.
- Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie says
Love this – so pretty and so many of my favourite flavours! Eb 🙂
Thanks Eb. Chocolate and Cherry are the perfect pairing! x
Rebecca - Glutarama says
What a showstopper of a dessert, perfect for celebrations and the festive season. I adore black forest gateau and this trifle looks even better!
Thanks Rebecca. We do love a trifle here xx
This looks incredible Kate – love the flavours and it would be perfect for a Christmas meal
Thanks Mandy. It’s such a perfect combo yet super-decadent for Christmas xx
These sound delicious and I absolutely love that they are gluten free.
Thank you Janet xx
Helen at the Lazy Gastronome says
This looks wonderfully rich! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party. Have a great week!
Thanks Helen. It’s definitely one for a celebration xx
plasterers bristol says
This sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for posting and sharing this recipe.
Kate Glutenfreealchemist says
You're welcome. It's darn good!
Oh wow that looks amazing! I want one now and its only breakfast time!
Can I come round to yours next time your baking – i'll be a good taster!