Sinister Black Forest Trifle (Gluten-Free)- A birthday treat for the last cruel gasp of winter

IMG_0714I am lucky that I had the help of an award-winning cake decorator and artist (Tony) and also the help of a future surgeon  (Bethany) with the decoration of our wedding cake, because if it had been left to me, we would have ended up with wedding trifle. Making pretty cakes is not my forte.  I can make delicious cake,and with the help of a bundt pan I can make a beautiful cake, but once layers and frosting and decorations come into play I am totally out of my league.  My birthday cake was delicious, but it really looked terrifying…If there was a Japanese anime in which a cake was imbued with superpowers and sinister intent it might look like my birthday cake.  Here it comes!  Here it comes!IMG_0658

My husband suggested that it might do better as a trifle and right he is.  All of the sinister power of a sloppy black forest cake has been contained here in half pint mason jars, but little brandy glasses would probably be nice too.  Just a warning, this treat is a bit much after a full and satisfying meal.  This is a whole lot of  dessert…it is a meal of sweetness unto itself.  I say eat it in the afternoon on an empty stomach with nothing but coffee or tea, enjoy bouncing around on a sugar high for a while and then take a nap.  I took these trifles to a dinner party, where they should have gotten another dollop of whipped cream and shavings of dark chocolate…but I ran out of cream.   I used sour cherries in syrup that I get from the greek grocery store.  These are commonly available in Eastern European and Baltic specialty food shops and they are delicious.  If my birthday was in August, rather than March, I would get fresh sour cherries and toss them with a bit of sugar.  I would also celebrate my birthday at the beach with mid-day cocktails but some us have birthdays right in the last cruel gasp of winter and we are allowed to buy sour cherries in syrup from whatever fancy European shop we feel like.  So there, all you Leos!


(makes 6 half pint trifles)

  • 3/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup mild oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla
  • 12 oz heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/3 cup Kirsch (cherry brandy) plus more to sprinkle on the cake and sip
  • 16 oz pitted sour cherries in syrup (or fresh ones pitted and tossed with some sugar)
  • A bar of dark chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter a 9 inch springform cake tin.
  3. Combine the rice flour, potato and arrowroot starch, baking powder, soda, gum, salt, cocoa and sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Add the applesauce, hot water, oil and vanilla and stir to combine totally.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared  cake tin and bake until the cake is set in the center (35-40 minutes).
  6. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes and then release it and letting it cool on a rack.  If it breaks it is no big deal because you are making trifle!  Yay!
  7. Combine the cream, Kirsch and confectioners sugar and beat it until it makes a fluffy icing.  Add more sugar or booze if you so desire.
  8. When the cake is cool, you can start to layer the trifles.  I used the smallest of my biscuit cutters to make a little round slice of cake for the bottom layer, but you could just throw 2-4 tablespoons of cake crumbs in there and it would work just fine. Sprinkle a little bit of Kirsch over the first layers of cake.  Next add 2 tablespoons of whipped cream followed by a layer of cherries fished out of their syrup with a fork.  Repeat these layers and refrigerate the trifles until it is time to serve them.
  9. Top  the trifles with one more dollop of whipped cream and shavings of chocolate.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Katherine says:

    Good God, these look amazing! Black forest cake is my favorite. Sour cherries – favorite. Dark chocolate – favorite. Dessert served in a jar…also a plus! Love the little drips of cherry juice on the counter! (Also a fan of Tony the cake decorator!)

    1. I am glad that you approve Katherine! Can you tell that I got a new Camera? When do you come to New York to visit me?

  2. Lovely recipe. It reminds me of the black forest cake a dear friend of my mothers taught me to make (she had sold her restaurant in Germany to start a family and have a farm in the Interior of BC.

    1. I did not know that you had a black forest cake recipe! I would have asked for it when I was researching. I remember you used to have that cherry tree…so much cherry pie!


  3. Glenda says:

    I could make this cake in the depths of rainy winter! No eggs😄

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