It’s cherry season here in Northern Utah! Dark, sweet cherries grow so well here and we are kind of obsessed. I mean, my town’s yearly 4th of July celebration is called “Cherry Days.” I have a gigantic Bing cherry tree in my backyard but it didn’t do well with this year’s drought. Thank goodness cherries are plentiful everywhere else because I really wanted to make this Black Forest Trifle that I’ve had floating in my head for a while.
Isn’t she gorgeous?!? My Black Forest Trifle was so much fun to create and to photograph. Oh, and the most important thing? It was insanely delicous. What’s not to love about layers of chocolate cake, homemade dark cherry compote, fresh whipped cream and mini chocolate chips?
Black Forest Cake originates from Germany and specifically the “Black Forest” region in the southwest. That area is known for its sour cherries and kirschwasser, which is a liquer made from the cherries. I didn’t use sour cherries and there’s no alcohol in my trifle but each layer mimics the flavors of Black Forest cake and I’m here for it. In fact, I have a neighbor that is from Germany and she gave it two thumbs up. That was all the validation I needed!
I’ll take you through each layer and show you just how simple and fun my Black Forest Trifle is to make. You can layer them into minis or individual portions, you can use a trifle bowl, or a big clear plastic or glass bowl. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s clear so you can see the beautiful layers!
Chocolate Cake Layer
As with all of my trifles that I’ve shared, I made it very easy on us and used a box cake. I chose this Triple Chocolate Fudge but you could use any boxed chocolate cake. Or make your own homemade one!
Once the cake is cooled completely, score it into small squares so that you can easily scoop it out for the layers. It doesn’t have to be perfect!
Cherry Compote for the Black Forest Trifle
Oh how I love dark sweet cherries! The great thing about this compote is that you can use fresh or frozen. You know what that means? You can make this ANY time of the year, not just during cherry season. These fresh ones that I got from Lee’s Marketplace were from Washington state and were so incredibly sweet and perfect.
This is my favorite cherry pitter! It’s from OXO and I got it on Amazon. It can get a little messy but it works so well and you can get through a bag of cherries really quickly. Wear an apron! Here’s the LINK for it!
Making a compote sounds fancy but it is very very easy to do. Just add your cherries to a saucepan, make a slurry out of cornstarch, water, and lemon juice, pour it over the cherries and cook. Don’t forget to add the sugar too!
After about 10 minutes, the cherries will start to “pop” a little and the liquid will get thick and syrupy. At that point, I like to mash the cherries slightly to make it more saucy. Stir in a little almond and vanilla extract then cool completely before layering with the trifle.
Whipped Cream Layer
If you’ve ever made homemade whipped cream, you know that it doesn’t last very long. It gets soft and soupy if left for more than a day. We can’t let that happen with our trifle because if you stabilize the whipped cream, it lasts for days. I ate leftover Black Forest Trifle on day FOUR and it was still amazing.
There are many ways to stabilize whipped cream. You can use a little cream cheese or a few tablespoons of instant pudding mix. You can also add unflavored gelatin which is what I chose in order to keep the pure taste of the whipped cream that is authentic to Black Forest cake.
It’s very easy to do. Just mix a little cold water and unflavored gelatin together. Let it “bloom” for a few minutes then heat until the gelatin is dissolved. Next, add it to to whipped cream that is at “soft peak” stage and whip until it’s at “stiff peak” stage. Easy!
I didn’t get a picture of the stiff peaks stage but you want the whipped cream to be firm enough to pipe and spread but not so firm that it turns to butter. In order to neatly add it to my taller glasses, I put the whipped cream into a Ziploc bag, snipped the bottom corner, and piped it into the glasses. Worked perfectly!
The fourth layer is mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. Another classic addition to Black Forest cake are chocolate shavings or even chocolate shards. I wanted texture in the trifle in the simplest way and the mini chocolate chips are just right. Of course they are yummy too!
Black Forest Trifle – Featured July Recipe at Lee’s
It’s been so fun to see the monthly displays at Lee’s Marketplace stores across Utah. For the month of July, all stores will be displaying my Black Forest Trifle and all of the dry ingredients to make it. Here is the display for May which was for my Shrimp Enchiladas. Customers are loving it and I still pinch myself every time I see it.
I can’t wait to see this beautiful Black Forest Trifle on a poster display!
My Black Forest Trifle would be perfect for the 4th of July! It might not have any blue but I’m of the opinion that the food is more important that the “red, white, blue” theme for everything. Just make good food and let the decorations be patriotic!
More Trifle Desserts
Y’all know that I LOVE trifles! They are delicious, they don’t have to be perfect, and they look beautiful. They are definitely “fake fancy!” Here are some other trifles that I’ve shared. If I had to pick, the Caramel Apple would have to be my favorite. I love them all though!
Black Forest Trifle
- 1 chocolate cake mix, baked according to box directions for 9×13
- 1 1/2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the cherry compote:
- 4 cups dark, sweet, pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the whipped cream:
- 8 teaspoons cold water
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream,
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Score the baked chocolate cake into small cubes. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, add cherries. In a small bowl, whisk together water, cornstarch and lemon juice to make a “slurry.” Pour over the cherries and heat to medium. Add sugar and stir.
- Bring to a low boil and continue cooking, stirring often, until cherries begin to soften and “burst.” If desired, mash gently with a fork or masher to break up the fruit. Add almond and vanilla extracts then stir to combine. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
- To make the stabilized whipped cream, add water to a small saucepan. Stir in gelatin and let sit (cold) for a few minutes or until thickened. Turn on heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved. Takes about 3-5 minutes. Let cool but do not let it set up. Start next step immediately.
- Add whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar to a stand mixer (or use hand mixer) and beat until soft peaks form. Reduce speed and slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture. Add vanilla. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.
- In a large glass bowl or individual trifle cups, layer pieces/crumbles of cake, cherry compote, whipped cream, and chocolate chips. Repeat layers making sure to end on chocolate chips. Press down on cake layer if needed to make room for more layers. Chill for 2-24 hours before serving.
- There are many ways to “stabilize” the homemade whipped cream including using a little cream cheese or adding a few tablespoons of instant pudding mix. The gelatin works best at keeping the pure taste of the whipped cream.