Black Forest Trifle

Black Forest Trifle Video (scroll down for recipe)

My grandmother Hornsby always loved a good trifle. She made hers with vanilla pound cake and raspberry jam, pudding and Cool Whip. (You can see her trifle recipe here.) This Black Forest trifle has all the flavors (the cherries! the chocolate! the booze!) of a Black Forest cake, but without the fussiness of a layer cake, which for some I know is easy but which for me often presents challenges with making it not look absolutely terrible.

There are only 7 ingredients needed (assuming you have a chocolate pound cake in the freezer already)

  • Chocolate cake
  • Cherries (fresh and pitted or frozen)
  • Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
  • Heavy Cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dark chocolate bar

That’s it. Trifles are a perfect dessert for holidays because they are a cinch to put together, they taste fantastic, they look pretty good and they can be made a day in advance. To prepare this trifle ahead of time, layer everything in your dish, ending with whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, shave chocolate over the top and decorate with cherries. If cherries aren’t in season, you can use maraschino or Luxardo cherries (or pull a fast one like I did and order some fake cherries on Amazon!)

black forest trifle

Black Forest Trifle Recipe


Black Forest Trifle

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Yield: 12 1x


  • 1 pound fresh cherries, pitted (or 1 12 ounce bag frozen cherries)
  • 1/2 cup Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • 1 chocolate pound cake
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 fresh cherries for decoration (or Luxardo or maraschino cherries)
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate bar


  1. Pit cherries if using fresh. Combine cherries with kirsch and let sit at least one hour, up to overnight.
  2. Drain cherries, but save all the liquid separately.
  3. Cut pound cake into bite-size cubes.
  4. Whip cold cream until soft peaks form, then add sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks.
  5. Layer in a straight-sided trifle dish: cake to cover the bottom; drizzle with Kirsch, sprinkle with cherries, spread with cream to cover. Continue, ending with cream.
  6. Refrigerate 4-24 hours.
  7. Decorate with cherries and shaved dark chocolate.


You will need a 4 quart size trifle dish to hold this amount, or two 2-quart dishes. Trifles are best served in a straight-sided glass dish so that you can see the layers but of course any vessel will work. Except a toilet bowl. Don’t make it in that.

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black forest trifle


  1. Manjit on December 14, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Looks lovely, but where’s the custard? British trifle always has custard so when I make BF trifle I always make some dark chocolate custard to layer over the cherries and under the cream. Try it, I think you’ll like it.

    Love your site xxx

    • Hilah on December 14, 2015 at 9:25 am

      Thanks, Manjit. I use custard — or American pudding 🙂 — in my grandma’s trifle recipe but for this one I wanted to use just the ingredients from the cake.

  2. Beashoo on December 23, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Hi I just came from YouTube. I like your channel. The photo looks so delicious but I have a question, I don’t consume liqueur or alcohol. What can I use instead.
    Many thanks

    • Hilah on December 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Hi, I think I mentioned in the video that you could use cherry juice instead

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