Chocolate lovers, this one’s for you.
When it comes to making desserts for special occasions, I am typically in one of two moods:
I’m either ready to make the most elegant, epic dessert ever, which will take hours and hours to prepare… Or, more realistically, I”m looking for something that requires minimal effort, that I can throw together as quickly as possible.
Enter: this deliciously creamy layered chocolate trifle.
This dessert recipe has become one of my go-to’s for celebrations of all kinds. As much as I love to occasionally attempt to make a layer cake or gorgeously decorated cupcakes, I know that my abilities are fairly limited.
I also don’t have the overwhelming desire to perfect this art because, well, I don’t have the patience. (Of course, if you’re interested in upping your own game, our guide to basic cake decorating is a great place to start!)
So, sometimes I really dread when I’m asked to bring a dessert to a gathering. I’m scared they’ll expect me to bust out something crazy intense and complicated.
That’s where this gem of a recipe comes in handy, because I can make it as simple or as complicated as I’d like.
How so, you ask?
Well, you can either choose to make your cake and pudding from scratch, or you can take the easy route and make both of these from boxed mixes, or even use premade products from the store.
I usually have at least one or two cake mixes and a few boxes of pudding mix in my pantry, because you never know when you’ll need them for a last-minute treat.
These come in handy particularly when I want to make this impressive looking trifle, and when I’m in the mood to take a few shortcuts to get to this gorgeous end result.
Let’s talk about the flavors. This recipe is the ideal combination of chocolate, banana, and whipped cream.
Layers of rich, moist cake are topped with creamy pudding, followed by a layer of sliced fresh bananas. The homemade whipped cream on top is light and airy without being too sweet.
Could you use whipped cream out of a can? Sure! But I find that it’s so simple and quick to whip up fresh, this is one area where using the “real thing” is almost always the way to go.
You repeat these layers until you get to the top of the dish, and then you finish it all off with some pretty shavings of dark chocolate.
When you place it on the table, you are sure to hear some “oohs” and “ahhs” coming from the crowd as they gather around for their serving of the chilled dessert.
I personally like to serve this at home just as much as I like to bring it to parties. You can easily make this recipe a few hours ahead of time too. Just keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.
This can help to free up some extra time when you’re hosting or attending a party, so you can actually enjoy the gathering instead of being stuck in the kitchen tending to dessert.
I’ve done that way too many times, and I’ve found that being prepared with a tasty recipe ahead of time is always worth it.
You can even shake things up with the toppings to make it more festive, if you like. I’ve included some ideas for that at the end of this article, so keep reading!Print
There are endless layers of fun in this easy homemade chocolate trifle. It’s a dessert that’s a dream to make, and even easier to eat.
For the Cake:
- 1 15.25-oz. box chocolate cake mix (or two 8-inch cake rounds)
- Required ingredients for the cake, as listed on the box (eggs, oil, etc.)
For the Pudding:
- 1 5.1-oz. box chocolate pudding mix (or 3–3 1/2 cups pudding)
- Required ingredients for the pudding, as listed on the box (milk, etc.)
For the Whipped Cream:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Layers and Topping:
- 4 ripe medium bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 2 oz. dark chocolate, shaved
- Make the cake, according to the directions on the box or your recipe of choice. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from the pans.
- Cut cake into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.
- Make the pudding, according to the directions on the box or your recipe of choice, while the cake is baking and cooling.
- To make the whipped cream, add heavy cream to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, until thickened. Add the sugar and vanilla, then continue to whisk until soft peaks form.
- To assemble the trifle, begin with 2 cups of chocolate cake cubes. Top with 1 1/2 cups chocolate pudding, and spread it evenly over the cake. Top with a layer of banana slices, then spread 1 cup whipped cream on top.
- Repeat these layers, finishing with whipped cream and a sprinkle of dark chocolate shavings.
- Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 3 hours.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Trifle
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: chocolate cake, trifle, whipped cream, banana
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure Ingredients
Measure out all of the ingredients required for the cake and the pudding as described on the package, or according to the recipes that you’ve chosen.
Measure out all of the ingredients for the whipped cream as listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Make Cake
According to the directions on the box of cake mix or your recipe of choice, bake the cake. If you want to really dive deep into cocoa/banana flavor, I suggest making our homemade banana cake recipe with chocolate chips.
Allow the cake to cool completely, then remove it from the pans. Cut it into 1-inch chunks and set aside.
Step 3 – Make Pudding
Make the pudding, according to the directions on the box or your recipe of choice. You can do this while the cake is baking and cooling.
Transfer the pudding to a bowl or lidded container and allow it to cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Step 4 – Make Whipped Cream
To make whipped cream from scratch, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Beat the cream on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, until thickened.
Add the sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined, with soft peaks.
You don’t want to overbeat the cream, or you’ll wind up with butter! When you lift your whisk or beater, the cream should be light and airy, forming peaks that do not firmly hold their shape.
Place the whipped cream in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Step 5 – Peel and Slice Bananas, and Shave Chocolate
When all of your ingredients are prepped and chilled, peel and slice four ripe bananas.
Step 6 – Assemble Trifle
Add a layer of about 2 cups of cake cubes to the bottom of a trifle bowl.
A punch bowl can also work for this, or a large, clear salad bowl. The idea is to use a serving dish that isn’t opaque, so you can see the layers that you’ve carefully created inside.
Top with about 1 1/2 cups of pudding. Spread it out to the edges with a spatula, in an even layer.
Top the pudding with a layer of banana slices. If you like, you can arrange a ring of these around the inside of the serving dish with the cut sides of the fruit pressed to the sides of the dish, for a pretty presentation.
Spread 1 cup of whipped cream in an even layer over the bananas.
Repeat the layers in this order. Finish with a final layer of whipped cream. Sprinkle the dark chocolate shavings on top.
Serve immediately. You can also place the dish in the refrigerator to chill for up to 3 hours before serving.
Toppings Make All the Difference
While you can stick to using shavings on top of this trifle for an elegant look, there are other ways to make this recipe festive and fun that you might like to try.
Consider adding colorful seasonal sprinkles on top, or even holiday colored M&M’s.
If you have candy bar lovers in your crowd, consider chopping up a selection of their favorites, particularly those with hints of chocolate, caramel, and peanuts or peanut butter.
Fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries also make a nice addition when they’re in season, or top it all off with a few homemade maraschino cherries.
What kind of topping will you put on this trifle? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you try it at home!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 1, 2010. Last updated on February 9, 2020. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.