Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cream Trifle

best trifle recipe chocolate layer trifle

I've been a fan of trifles for quite some time now, but only recently have I discovered just how convenient they are.

Last summer, I was preparing a beautiful four layer cake only to have it completely topple over itself like an avalanche once it was finally frosted and assembled. What a disaster! As a last ditch effort to salvage this cake that took all day to prep, bake, and assemble, I decided to throw it all in a trifle dish...and Voila! I had myself a gorgeous, layered beauty of a dessert. 

best chocolate trifle recipe

For many people, layer cakes can be quite intimidating. There's a certain level of pressure to baking a layer cake and making it presentable. I've put effort into more than a few that taste amazing, but look less than appealing. Well, let me tell you...problem solved! 

Since that near fatal attempt, I've actually been taking my favorite layer cake recipes and purposely turning them into trifles. 

And that's exactly how I came up with this purty lil thang!

We all know there are some ingredients that just go together. Chocolate and coconut are two things that totally belong together and mesh into complete harmony in this dish.

There are three components that make up this trifle. First is a super moist, no fail dark chocolate cake. This cake, holy smokes, this cake y'all will cure the deepest craving of even the most hard core chocoholic (aka moi). There is nothing really worse than putting your fork into a slice of chocolate cake, only to find out that it is dry as a cracker. Well, you don't have to worry about that with this one. There are some pretty key ingredients going into this cake that make it so delectable. Using vegetable oil in place of butter, an extra egg yolk, and adding sour cream all work together to make this one killer chocolate cake. 

Ok, so secondly, is the coconut dark chocolate pudding layer. This layer is what makes the distinction between trifle and cake. I make this pudding any time I have a chocolate craving that needs immediate attention. Seriously, the thought of chocolate could pop into your head, and five minutes later, you will be spooning this stuff into your mouth. How great is that? 
The pudding is made with coconut milk which gives it a subtle coconut flavor without overpowering it. Again, perfect match with the dark chocolate. 
I might have licked the spoon like 20 times, just saying. 

The last layer is an easy peasy coconut whipped cream with shredded coconut.

Although there are three different elements to this dessert, I was able to complete the trifle, from start to finish (including cooling the cake), in the amount of time my lil man was napping away. If you are short on time, you could make the cake and pudding a day ahead, then whip together the coconut cream and assemble the day you serve it. 

Assembly is the easiest part. Waiting the eight or so hours for the trifle to marinate, meld, and marry into perfect harmony in the refrigerator might just be darn near impossible.

Coconut Dark Chocolate Trifle

For the cake:
Makes one 8 inch cake

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup water, heated to boiling
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Spray an 8x8 inch square pan with cooking spray and lightly coat with flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low speed just until combined.

In a small bowl, add cocoa powder to boiling water. Stir until well combined. Set aside.
In a large measuring cup, combine egg, egg yolk, oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract. 

Whisk well.

With mixer on low speed, add egg mixture to flour mixture until just combined. 

Stop mixer and scrape bowl with a rubber spatula.
Resume mixing on low speed and add chocolate mixture to the bowl and mix until fully combined.

Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, and fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out of center free of wet batter. 

Set the cake aside to cool completely.

For the pudding:
1 14 oz. can coconut milk, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp espresso powder
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp coconut extract

In a medium sized heavy saucepan, whisk together half of the can of coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Place over medium-low heat and whisk until sugar is melted.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and the remaining half can of coconut milk. Pour into saucepan with the sugar mixture and whisk until thickened to pudding consistency, about 2 minutes.

Off the heat, and stir in chopped chocolate and extract.

Set pudding aside to cool to room temperature.
And try to keep yourself from diving in face first.

For the coconut whipped cream:
1 cup cream of coconut, cold
2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp coconut extract
3/4 cup shredded coconut

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the cream of coconut and heavy cream until soft peaks begin to form. Pour in granulated sugar and extract and whisk until soft peaks are formed. 

Save shredded coconut for assembly.

For assembly:
Cut or break cake into one inch pieces. 

Spoon 1/4 cup of pudding in the bottom of a trifle dish. 

Place one third of chocolate cake in the dish.

Spoon one third of the pudding on top of the cake.

Top with one third of whipped cream, then sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut on top.

Repeat this two more times, finishing with whipped cream and shredded coconut.

Recipe Notes:

The apothecary jar presentation was purely accidental. I had already baked and prepped all ingredients only to realize my trifle dish was at my sister-in-laws I had to improvise!

Please excuse the not so great quality was a cloudy day here in San Diego, and as a result, had shadows and poor lighting.

Store in refrigerator, but this dessert is actually best served just a touch cooler than room temp. That way the cake and pudding get a chance to soften up after being refrigerated.

Please let me know how this turns out for you!


  1. how far ahead do you think you can assemble?

    1. Hi there, you can assemble the trifle up to two days ahead. You can bake the cake up to one week ahead, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze until your ready to assemble. I would defrost overnight on the counter before assembly. I hope this helps! It really is so delicious!