Gluten Free Black Forest Trifle Recipe

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by Carol Kicinski on August 16, 2010

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Gluten Free Black Forest Trifle Recipe

Have you ever bought something that, at the time, you just had to have, figured you would use it all the time, and just couldn’t live without it, only to have it languish in the back of your cupboard for years, all but forgotten about?

That’s how it is with my trifle bowlGluten Free Black Forest Trifle Recipe Image. When I first bought it I just knew I would get so much use out of it. After all, my mother was English, shouldn’t trifle making be in my blood?

I came across my trifle bowl the other day when on the hunt for something else I stashed in that cupboard and realized I had yet to make a trifle. Ever! In fact I only used the trifle bowl once, to put flowers in it for Thanksgiving. Time to make a trifle I decided.

Since I had never made a trifle I called my dear friend, Australian native, Jude, as she was the closest I could get to a true Brit on short notice. I asked her what the essentials of a good trifle are. She told me day old cake, booze of some sort (fruit juice was mildly passable as a substitute), fruit, pudding, cream and Jello.

Me – “Jello?”

Jude – “Yes, Jello!”

Me – “Really?!?”

Jude – “Yes, really!”

Could I really put a recipe on my blog using Jello? Would I be shunned from other food bloggers? After all, there are already about 127 reasons why I will never be classified as a foodie, would this be number 128?

I Googled the history of trifle and it dates back to the late 1500’s. I kind of doubt that they had Jello back in 1597 but then again, it is hard to argue with Jude. Besides, I recalled that when my maternal grandmother was alive and living in England she used to ask my mother to send her boxes and boxes of Jello gelatin. How did I know what she was doing with them? Maybe she was making trifle. So in honor of two women I love, Jude and my Grandmother, I decided to go ahead and add the Jello.

Since the addition of Jello meant I was already using a convenience food, I decided to just go ahead and make this trifle dead easy. I had some day old cake on hand as I had make my Simply Good Chocolate Cake the day before and then I found out that instant Jello pudding is in fact gluten-free. This was turning into one simple recipe! In fact once the Jello is set, the pudding made and the cream whipped, it is all about assembly really. If you don’t happen to have some day old cake on hand (although this recipe is a really good excuse to try out my Simply Good Chocolate Cake) you could whip up a batch of Pamela’s Brownies or any other quick gluten free cake you like.

I decided to make a sort of pan-European trifle by combining the British concept with German flavors and make a Black Forrest Trifle. Since I was to be feeding this to children and just happened to be out of Kirsch, I used cherry juice strained from the canned tart cherries and sweetened it up with a little maraschino cherry juice to moisten the cake which turned out to be incredible delicious. In fact I could have eaten just the chocolate cake soaked in the cherry juice mixture and been very happy but then my trifle bowl would remain neglected.

This gluten free Black Forrest Trifle couldn’t be simpler, it feeds a crowd and I must say looks pretty spectacular all layered in a trifle bowl. And yes, that darn Jello does add a certain something.

Gluten Free Black Forest Trifle Recipe


1 (8 serving package) box of Black Cherry or Cherry Jello gelatin
2- 11 ounce cans Red Tart Cherries, liquid from 1 can reserved
3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice (from a jar of maraschino cherries)
1 (6 serving package) instant Vanilla Jello Pudding
2 ½ cups milk
1 – 8 inch gluten free chocolate cake or brownies (preferably made the day before)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Cocoa Powder, grated chocolate or chocolate curls* for garnish
Maraschino Cherries for garnish


Prepare the Jello gelatin according to the directions except only use 1 cup of cold water instead of two. Let firm up for at least 4 hours or you can make the day ahead. Cut into about 1 inch squares.

Mix the reserved juice from the can of tart cherries with the maraschino cherry juice.

Prepare the instant Jello pudding per the instructions using 2½ cups of milk instead of three. Let the pudding set up for 5 minutes.

Cut the cake or brownies into about 1 inch square pieces, you do not have to be very precise. Layer half of the cake into the bottom of a trifle bowl or clear glass serving bowl. Spoon some of the cherry juice mixture onto the cake, enough to moisten the cake but not drown it. Layer 1 can of drained tart cherries over the moistened cake making sure the cherries go all the way out to the edges so they show up in the layers. Top with half of the pudding. Top with the cubed Jello then add the remaining pudding, another layer of cake (moisten the same way as the first layer), and the remaining can of drained cherries.

Whip the cream on high speed with the sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over the top of the trifle.

Top with a dusting of cocoa powder, some grated chocolate or chocolate curls and maraschino cherries. Refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors meld or up to several hours ahead.

*To make chocolate curls, take a bar of chocolate and warm it for about 15 seconds in the microwave. Run a vegetable peeler down the side of the chocolate. If curls do not form then the chocolate is not warm enough, warm a few more seconds. Keep cold until using.


This Gluten Free Black Forest Trifle recipe serves 6

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Iris August 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Can you please come to my house and give me lessons in how to make my food look so pretty? I have to bake a cake for a special occasion and I want to masquerade one of your cakes as mine!


glugleglutenfree August 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I was a bit confused. When I first saw the picture and the word Jello, I thought your "trifle" dish was really the size of a little individual size jello cup. (I have never heard of trifle before.) Then I realized that those weren't red capers on the top. They were cherries. How big is that dish?

Anyway, it does look amazing. I now have a go-to recipe when our cake has been sitting around and people are coming over. But, I guess I need to look for a trifle dish, first. :)

Tia :P


Lisa (bakebikeblog) August 16, 2010 at 5:24 pm

oh my – I Love your serving bowl! I have been looking for one like that for ages!!!!


Aubree Cherie August 16, 2010 at 5:36 pm

This is so B-E-A-utiful! You ARE the master of desserts that look too good to eat :)

~Aubree Cherie


Liz August 16, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Oh that does sound easy and it looks so PRETTY!


Anonymous August 17, 2010 at 5:25 am

Loved this write up on your blog….especially the Jello dialogue……I would have done the same, but I also would not have argued with Jude and Jello. The girl knows her Trifle:)


kim-Cook It Allergy Free August 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

This one just won my heart! What an awesome looking dessert! I will so be making this the next time I entertain! I also got a Trifle bowl a few months ago that I have yet to do anything with. I think I just found it's inaugural dish!


Ellie (Almost Bourdain) August 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Wonderful recipe! Thanks for sharing!


The InTolerant Chef August 18, 2010 at 4:02 am

We always use jello (we call it jelly in Australia)in our trifles, but make it semi soft, so it makes a soft layer not the pretty cubes. Of course the most important ingredient of all is the large slug of sherry over the cake!


Foodessa August 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Carol…I've never attempted a trifle dessert before. If ever I do…I can only hope it will be as gorgeous as your creation…just wonderful ;o)

Ciao for now,


Jas. August 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Love it! As a fellow Aussie to Jude yes jello, or as we call it jelly is required for trifle! But, oh my gawd look at the size of that dish! It'd be so very tempting to make a huge batch of rich chocolate mousse in it and dive in with a dozen girlfriends over a girls night with some good chick flicks!

(On another note – great lolly bowl at christmas when layered up with different cloured GF lollies, or if not that much of a sweet tooth then forget food altogether and throw in a heap of small, different coloured christmas baubles!)


Tasty Eats At Home August 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

Carol, this does look really gorgeous. Makes me want a trifle dish – which I would probably use about as often as you did prior to this recipe….whoops!


Sharon November 20, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I have made trifle in my beautiful trifle bowl..I used strawberries and pound cake and whipped cream
next time I will use jello so should I not use whipped cream? I am new to gluten free…also is trifle pronounced tri(long i) or triffle? (short i)


Carol Kicinski November 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Hi Sharon,
The whipped cream is up to you, and it’s pronounced with a long “i” :)


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