Individual Black Forest Cake Trifles

I’m a bit late on this announcement….

A copy of my book, Friends at the Table goes to…

Anna! Congratulations! Hope you enjoy the recipes with your friends at the table.


Tis the season for indulging, and if you still haven’t had your fill of cookies, candies, and other confections that are before us this time of year, I have something you may just want to make for dessert on Christmas day. A grand finale to an elegant dinner, complete with a cherry on top.

I love black forest cake, and serving it individually, makes it that much more festive. You may also make these little treats several hours in advance, kept waiting in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.

Give them a try, you will be happy you did.


Cheers, everyone! Hope your holidays are filled with laughter and Joy.

I am looking forward to Jeff’s Beef Jerky & Christmas Morning Blueberry Pancakes 😉


Individual Black Forest Trifles

For the cake:

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

5 oz. (1 cup plus 2 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. table salt

3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter; softened at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup strong brewed coffee


For the cherries and kirsch syrup:

1/2 of (1) 16-oz. can pitted sweet cherries in heavy or extra heavy syrup

4 tablespoons kirsch (cherry brandy)

Granulated sugar to taste


For assembling the trifle:

1 1/2  cups cold heavy cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tablespoon  kirsch

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate shavings (from a 3- to 4-oz. block of chocolate)

Additional cherries for garnish


Make the cake:

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and butter the parchment. Fill a medium skillet with about 1/2 inch water and heat until just below a simmer. Put both the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and put the bowl in the barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water bath and let cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In an electric mixer (use the paddle attachment), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2  to 4 minutes. Mix in the slightly cooled melted chocolate on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat on medium speed for another 1 minute. On low speed, mix in the sour cream just until it’s incorporated. Add the flour mixture (in three additions), alternating with the coffee (in two additions); scrape the bowl as needed. The batter will be very thick, like chocolate mousse or frosting.

Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top feels firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. The cake may sink a bit in the center, but that’s fine. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes in the baking pan on a wire rack. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan, invert the cake onto the rack, and discard the paper liner. Let cool completely.

Prepare the cherries and kirsch syrup:

Drain the cherries in a colander set over a large bowl (to catch the syrup) for 30 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the syrup. Transfer the cherries to a small bowl, drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of the kirsch, and set aside. Taste the syrup; it should be slightly tart and not too sweet. If necessary, stir in 1 to 2 tsp. sugar. Put the syrup in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 1/2  tablespoons kirsch. Set aside to cool.

Assemble the trifles:

Put the cream, sugar, and kirsch in the large bowl of an electric mixer and whip on high speed until it holds firm peaks.

With a long, serrated knife, cut the cooled cake vertically (all the way across the cake) into 1/2-inch slices. Then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Line the bottom of a 6-ounce glass dessert bowl or wine glass with about 2-3  of the cake slices to create an even layer. Brush this layer of cake lightly with some of the kirsch syrup, top with a dollop of whipped cream, and randomly nestle a few  of the remaining cherries into the cream. Sprinkle with a teaspoon  of the chocolate shavings.

Repeat with two more layers. Scatter the remaining chocolate shavings over the whipped cream layer and garnish with a cherry.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve chilled.

Make Ahead Tips

The cake can be baked and the kirsch syrup prepared up to one day ahead. Wrap the cake in plastic and keep it at room temperature. Cover the syrup and keep refrigerated. Once assembled, the trifles can be refrigerated for up to 6 hours.

8 servings




3 thoughts on “Individual Black Forest Cake Trifles”

  1. I love individually plated desserts like this, especially one that looks so tasty. Black forest cake is a favorite, can’t wait to try it! Happy Holidays! – S

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.