This recipe was part of the Food Fight: Holiday Desserts Challenge which ended Nov 6, 2009 04:00 PM.
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Chocolate Cherry Trifle Recipe

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 4 hours, can make components a day before | Active Time: | Makes: Serves 10-15 people easily

This recipe for Chocolate Cherry Trifle is based on my family’s love of Black Forest Cake. Using fudgey brownies as a base, instead of cake, gives the trifle a decadent quality. There is a lot of flexibility for the busy cook. You can make the brownies, cherries and pudding the day before serving and assemble everything ahead of time or at the last minute.



  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


  • 4 cups frozen, dark, sweet cherries, thawed and drained. (Reserve 1/4 cup of the cherry juice for the cherry pudding used in the trifle.)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cherry flavored brandy


  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of cherry juice (reserved from drained pre-brandied cherries)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cherry flavored brandy
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. For the brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9×2 inch baking pan. In a small bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside. Melt the butter and pour into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder. Add the vanilla extract and eggs and mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Do not overmix. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly to edges. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Can make the brownies the day before assembling the trifle.
  2. For the brandied cherries: In a medium-size bowl, combine drained cherries, sugar, and brandy. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least a half hour or until ready to assemble the trifle.
  3. For the cherry pudding: In a large saucepan on the stove, mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Turn heat onto medium, and slowly stir in the milk with a wire whisk. Continue whisking until the mixture comes to a rollicking, bubbly boil, and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in the reserved 1/4 cup cherry juice, brandy, and butter, until fully incorporated. Pour into a medium-size mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface of the pudding so skin does not form. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the trifle.
  4. For the whipped cream: Whip the cream in a chilled bowl with the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
  5. Assembling the trifle: In a large glass bowl, crumble half the brownies on the bottom. Sprinkle with half the cherries and brandied juice, cover with half the pudding, and repeat the layers. Cover the top with the whipped cream and grated chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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