The allure of this vegan trifle lies not only in its sumptuous layers but also in the thoughtful orchestration of flavors and textures that harmonize seamlessly. The chocolate cake, a key foundation meticulously prepared a day in advance for enhanced handling, embodies a moist and decadent essence. A symphony of all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, and vegan chocolate melds effortlessly with the subtle notes of instant coffee, creating a cake that stands as a testament to the artistry of plant-based baking. The clever use of dairy-free milk and neutral-flavored oil ensures a moist crumb, while the addition of melted vegan chocolate elevates the richness to a level that rivals traditional recipes.

The subsequent layer, a velvety dairy-free chocolate custard, emerges as the pièce de résistance. Crafted with cornstarch, vegan chocolate or chocolate chips, and a touch of sweetness, this custard delivers a smooth and luscious consistency that blankets the cake in decadence. Its preparation involves a meticulous boiling and simmering process, allowing the custard to reach its ideal thickness. As it cools, the custard undergoes a transformation, developing a tantalizing texture that holds its own against any non-vegan counterpart.

The cherry compote, a jubilant medley of pitted morello cherries, bursts forth with a burst of fruity goodness. Simmered in a concoction of reserved cherry juice, cornstarch, sweetener, and optional lemon juice, the compote achieves a thickened, jammy consistency that adds depth and contrast to the layers above. The cooling period allows the compote to mature, intensifying its flavors and infusing the trifle with the essence of ripe cherries.

The orchestration of these components in the assembly phase transforms the dessert into a visual masterpiece. The cake, now chilled and easily manageable, takes its place as the base layer, providing a solid canvas for the forthcoming layers of delight. With precision and creativity, the baker adorns the cake with alternating strata of cherry compote, chocolate custard, and dairy-free whipped cream. The latter, whipped to perfection, crowns the trifle with an ethereal lightness that elevates the entire ensemble.

The finishing touch involves an artful placement of fresh cherries atop the trifle, adding a burst of color and a final flourish of natural sweetness. The result is not merely a vegan trifle but a culinary masterpiece that transcends dietary preferences. This dessert, with its symphony of flavors, meticulous preparation, and visual appeal, serves as a testament to the boundless possibilities of plant-based indulgence. Whether served at a festive gathering or enjoyed as a personal indulgence, this vegan trifle stands as a delicious ambassador for compassionate and delectable desserts.

Vegan Black Forest Trifle

This vegan trifle has layers of chocolate cake, creamy chocolate custard, macerated cherries and whipped dairy-free cream. It’s just like a classic German gateau but easier to prepare and assemble!

Prep Time30minutes mins

Cook Time1hour hr

Resting Time4hours hrs

Total Time5hours hrs 30minutes mins

Cuisine: American, Australian, British, German-inspired, Vegan

Servings: 16 serves


Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • ▢2 cups (250g) all-purpose plain flour, (note 1 for gluten free)
  • ▢1 ¼ cups (225g) granulated, brown or coconut sugar, or a mixture
  • ▢½ cup (50g) cocoa or raw cacao powder
  • ▢1 tablespoon instant coffee granules, optional
  • ▢1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ▢Pinch of salt, optional
  • ▢1 ¼ cups (315g) dairy-free milk
  • ▢½ cup (125g) neutral flavored oil
  • ▢40 g melted vegan chocolate
  • ▢1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Dairy Free Chocolate Custard

  • ▢4 cups (32 oz or 1L) dairy-free milk
  • ▢⅔ cup (75g) corn starch / corn flour
  • ▢½ cup (85g) roughly chopped vegan chocolate or chocolate chips
  • ▢⅓ cup (55g) granulated, brown or coconut sugar, to taste

Cherry Compote

  • ▢~5 cups (3 lb or 1.4kg) pitted morello cherries in juice, jarred or canned (this is about 2 large jars)
  • ▢½ cup (60g) corn starch / corn flour
  • ▢¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar, or sweetener to taste
  • ▢2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (optional)

For assembly

  • ▢3 cups (24 oz or 720g) dairy-free whipping cream, as needed
  • ▢~3 cups (420g) fresh, jarred or canned cherries

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To make the cake (preferably one day before serving):

  • Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Line 2 x 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans or a large sheet tray or parchment paper.
  • Sift your dry ingredients if they’re lumpy. Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix until combined. Add all the wet ingredients and mix until there are no lumps.
  • Pour the batter into your cake tin(s). Bake for 20 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean. Allow the cake(s) to cool in their pans.
  • Cover the cakes and chill in the fridge until needed. Chilled cakes are easier to handle!

To prepare the chocolate custard:

  • Add around 1 cup (250g) of the dairy-free milk and all the cornstarch to a large saucepan and whisk until there are no lumps of cornstarch.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and place the saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to medium heat for 10-15 minutes while whisking frequently until it thickens to just before your ideal consistency or when it thickly coats the back of a spatula. Cook it longer if you’d prefer a thicker custard.
  • Remove the custard from the heat. Set aside to cool, whisking it occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill until needed (note 2).

To make the cherry compote:

  • Drain the cherries reserving all the juice. We need about 3 cups (720g) of liquid for this so measure your juice and add extra water to make it 720g.
  • Add all the juice, corn starch, sweetener and optional lemon juice to a very large saucepan or pot. Mix until combined. Place over medium heat and heat until thickened. Add the cherries and take the saucepan off the heat. Allow to cool until needed (note 3).

Assemble the vegan trifle (a few hours or a day before serving):

  • Whip the cream according to packet instructions.
  • Cut your cake into 1 inch cubes or crumble into small pieces.
  • Your vegan trifle can be assembled in whichever order you like. However, this is how I assembled my trifle: place half the cake pieces into the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) trifle dish or large glass bowl. Fill any holes with more cake to form an even layer. Layer with half of the cherry compote, half of the chocolate custard and half of the whipped cream. Repeat all the layers.
  • Top your vegan trifle with fresh cherries. Chill until ready to serve. Leftovers can be stored covered in the trifle dish for up to 3-5 days.


  1. For a gluten-free vegan chocolate cake, use a good quality 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour. Or use 1 ¼ cups (125g) almond flour and ¾ cup (120g) gluten-free all-purpose flour.
  2. If you make your custard a day in advance and it sets, use an immersion blender or hand whisk and mix it vigorously until there are no lumps.
  3. If you make your compote a day in advance and it sets, reheat it over low-medium heat in a saucepan and add a little water if needed. Gently mix until the compote is jammy again.


Serving: 1 serve | Calories: 577kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 190mg | Potassium: 317mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 901IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 3mg