Black Forest Trifle (Vegan Gluten-Free)

This Black Forest Trifle is the chocolatey and cherry dream dessert, perfect for sharing as a showstopper centrepiece. It has vegan, gluten-free and healthier layers of brownie chocolate cake, yoghurt custards and homemade cherry compote.

I just love everything about chocolate and cherry and so when thinking about a showstopper dessert for Christmastime, it only seemed natural to veer towards this classic combination. That said, it has a healthier, more nourishing twist as we have a more wholesome chocolate brownie-style cake, protein yoghurt based custard mixes and homemade cherry compote. The layers are just as luxurious and indulgent as cream and butter based dessert, but knowing it’s made with wholesome ingredients, makes this feel even better. My family loved this one, saying it’s one of the best desserts I’ve made all year – so high praise, indeed.

Black Forest Trifle in a glass dish
Black Forest Trifle

Why will I love this trifle?

This dessert is so amazing:

  • A showstopper centrepiece dessert for all the family
  • Rich, chocolatey and indulgent
  • Fruity, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious
  • Nostalgic with a fun twist
  • Naturally vegan, egg-free and dairy-free
  • Easily nut-free and gluten-free
  • Made with wholesome, lighter ingredients
  • Full of gut healthy ingredients
  • Has a simple method
  • Easy to make and eat the same day or to prepare ahead of time
  • Makes a delicious dessert for Christmas
  • Great all year round
  • Uses store-cupboard and freezer/fridge ingredients

If you already love the sound of this dessert then skip ahead to the recipe card below. Or, first let’s discuss the recipe in more detail.

What ingredients do I need?

The ingredients are all listed by weight in the recipe card below and you can see my favourites in the “shop the recipe” section.

For the chocolate cake:

  • Plant-based milk and apple cider vinegar: this mixture curdles, forming a buttermilk which binds the egg-free cake mix.
  • Coconut sugar: for sweetness. You can also use light brown sugar or white or golden caster sugar.
  • Thick coconut yoghurt: this is key to a lovely fudgy sponge cake so make sure the yoghurt is thick like Greek-style. I use the Cocos Organic natural or vanilla yoghurt.
  • Olive oil: adds moisture, fat and richness to the cake without any butter.
  • Self-raising flour: makes this cake nice and fluffy but still moist and tender., If you’re gluten-free, use a gluten-free 1:1 baking flour alterative ideally with xanthan gum, or similar.
  • Cacao powder: to make the batter really rich and chocolatey. I use the organic cacao powder from Food Thoughts for this recipe which is light, fruity yet rich and chocolatey.
  • Ground almonds: adds a lovely nuttiness and moist texture. If making this nut-free, use extra flour.
  • Raising agents and salt: for the rise.
  • Espresso coffee: this works magic in chocolate cakes, to add richness, depth and to allow the cacao powder to bloom, This enhances the natural chocolate flavour and if you prefer, you can use decaf coffee, too.
  • Dark chocolate chips: to add a double chocolate element to the cake. I use the luxury ones from Food Thoughts which are so good but you can also chop up a bar of chocolate, too, or use dairy-free milk chocolate.
Spooning a Black Forest Trifle
Black Forest Trifle

For the homemade cherry compote:

  • Frozen cherries (or fresh): as it’s wintertime, I use a bag of frozen cherries which is much cheaper and easier, too. Make sure to defrost the cherries first and remove all the excess liquid before making the compote, otherwise it will be too wet. You can drink the liquid or add to smoothies.
  • Maple syrup: this allows the compote to turn nice and sticky without adding too much sugar (just 4 tbsp for the whole thing). You can use other syrups too like agave.
  • Orange zest: this adds a lovely orange flavour to the compote, but if you don’t have any, it’s just as delicious without it.
  • Vanilla essence: adds a vanilla sweetness.
  • Cinnamon: for flavour.

And for the custards:

  • Thick coconut yoghurt: as above.
  • Cacao powder: for the chocolate custard.
  • Chocolate and vanilla protein powders: these are essential to thickening the mixes so that the layers are perfectly smooth, thick and luscious. The chocolate protein is for the cacao custard and the vanilla protein is for the vanilla custard – I use the ones from Form nutrition.
  • Maple syrup: to make the custards smooth and naturally a little sweeter.

For the layers, I added some chocolate coated cacao nibs for crunch which are so delicious but you can use other chocolate chips. I always add some fresh cherries on top and a dusting of cacao powder, too.

Black Forest Trifle in a glass jar
Chocolate Cherry Trifle

Is this gluten-free and nut-free?

This dessert is easily gluten-free as long as you use gluten-free self-raising flour. To keep this nut-free, swap the ground almonds for more flour and check all your other ingredients like yoghurt, chocolate and protein powder.

How do I make this?

This dessert is a showstopper but is actually simple to make.

  • For the cake layer:
    • Whisk together the wet ingredients until smooth
    • Sift in the dry ingredients
    • Add in the espresso and chocolate chips
    • Pour into a tin and bake until springy
    • Allow the cake to cool and slice into squares
  • For the cherry compote:
    • Defrost the cherries and drain away the excess liquid
    • Add all of the ingredients to a pan and bubble away for 20 minutes or until really sticky
    • Allow to cool down fully
  • For the custard mixes:
    • Whisk the yoghurt, cacao powder, chocolate protein and maple for the chocolate custard
    • Make the vanilla custard with the yoghurt, vanilla protein and maple syrup
  • To assemble the trifle:
    • Start with a layer or chocolate cake
    • Spoon over half the compote
    • Add spoons of both custards and swirl together
    • Sprinkle over some chocolate nibs
    • Repeat with another layer of each
    • Top with fresh cherries and a sprinkling cacao powder
  • To enjoy:
    • dive in straight away
    • or cover tightly and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days

How long will this last?

This trifle last about 24 hours in my house, but you can cover and keep the dessert in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can also make the cake ahead of time and wrap tightly to freeze for 1 month. Allow to defrost before making the rest of the dessert.

A plate with Black Forest Trifle
Black Forest Trifle

What else can I make?

If you’re looking for more festive dessert ideas:

Black Forest Trifle in a glass dish

Black Forest Trifle (Vegan Gluten-Free)

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 26 minutes
Total Time: 46 minutes

This Black Forest Trifle is the chocolatey and cherry dream dessert, perfect for sharing as a showstopper centrepiece. It has vegan, gluten-free and healthier layers of brownie chocolate cake, yoghurt custards and homemade cherry compote.


For the Cake:

  • 180ml plant-based milk + ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 75g coconut sugar
  • 40g thick coconut yoghurt
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 125g self-raising flour (or GF alternative)
  • 30g cacao powder
  • 25g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp espresso coffee
  • 50g dark chocolate chips

For the Cherry Compote:

  • 500g frozen cherries (or use fresh, if in season, pitted weight)
  • 60ml maple syrup
  • Zest ½ orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the “Custards”:

  • 320g thick coconut yoghurt, divided
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp chocolate protein powder
  • 3 tbsp vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, divided

For the Layers:

  • 4 tbsp chocolate coated nibs, or more chocolate chips
  • Fresh Cherries
  • Cacao powder, to dust


  1. Start by making the cake: preheat the oven to 160Fan/180ºC and line an 8-inch round tin with parchment paper.
  2. For the cake: whisk together the plant-based milk and vinegar and leave for 5 minutes to curdle. Into a large mixing bowl, whisk the milk mix, sugar, yoghurt and olive oil. Now sift in the flour and cacao powder. Add in the ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add a pinch of salt and begin to whisk together. Before it’s fully combined, pour in the espresso and continue until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips and pour into the tin. Smooth over the top and bake for 26-28 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  3. Allow the cake to cool fully: in the tin for 10 minutes and then carefully lift out to cool fully. Once cool, carefully slice the cake into small cubes.
  4. For the cherry compote: defrost the cherries (overnight or in the microwave, and drain away the excess liquid). Add the cherries to a saucepan with the other compote ingredients and warm over a high heat. Once bubbling, allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, until really thick and juicy, stirring often. Remove from the heat and allow to cool fully.
  5. For the “custards”: divide the yoghurt equally between two bowls. For the chocolate yoghurt custard, whisk in the cacao powder, chocolate protein and 1 tbsp maple syrup until smooth. For the vanilla yoghurt custard, whisk in the vanilla protein and 1 tbsp maple syrup until smooth.
  6. To assemble: into a 7-inch round trifle jar or bowl, lay a layer of cake sponge, topped with half of the cherry compote. Spoon over half of the chocolate and half of the vanilla custard and swirl together. Add on 2 tbsp chocolate coated nibs and then repeat with cake*, cherry compote, custard and chocolate coated nibs.
  7. Add on some fresh cherries and a dusting of cacao powder to serve.
  8. Enjoy straight away or cover tightly and keep in the fridge for 3 days. The cake can be made ahead of time, and frozen for 1 month (wrapped well) and allow it to defrost before slicing into cubes and making the trifle.


*If you have extra cake leftover (depending on the size of your dish) add another layer and finish with more custard or add some vegan whipped cream, too.

Shop the recipe

Stay in touch

I look forward to hearing what you think of this Black Forest Trifle so please let me know in the comments below and leave a star review above. If you do make this, I’d love to see so please tag me, I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With trifles of love x

p.s. this recipe was first made with Food Thoughts although this blog post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own.

  1. Lorraine Russo says:

    Can I leave out one or both protein powders if I don’t have them ?

  2. Radmila says:

    Hello! If I want to make on Christmas Eve to serve at Christmas, would I make and assemble it and place in fridge? Or Store separately and assemble on Christmas Day? Thanks!!!

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