Black Forest Trifle with Chocolate Crackle Crust

It’s not that hard to please The Hungry One. Easy options; take him for a walk along a beach, put a strong flat white coffee within reach or give him a good chunk of sleep in a bed big enough to stretch out in.

And when it comes to his birthday? Every year, it’s same same. He’d like something from the Black Forest please.

It was just over a year ago that the three of us spent three days in the region itself, cavorting around Baden Baden. Will (then known as the stowaway) was tucked inside, tiring me out in different sorts of ways. We ate a lot of schnitzel. We wafted around in thermal waters. And we ate a lot of cake.

It’s good to go back to the source. But it’s also fun to play around. In the past few years there have been plenty of attempts to create the perfect combination of cherries, cream and chocolate at home.

There’s been a more textured layered affair– with a dense brownie base, cherry mousse, kirsch soaked dried cherries, praline cream and fresh cherries. The next year the flavours came out to play in a dark chocolate and cherry tart, with an ice cream rumpled with brownies, cherries and nuts.

In Suitcase and a Spatula  I combined two of his great loves; strudel and this Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in a sour cherry and dark chocolate, Black Forest Cheese Strudel.

And last year they came together in a mighty Black Forest Cheesecake.

For those fearing that we may have run out of permutations of Black Forest  don’t fret. Finding a new version is a burden I happily shoulder. This year it was a trifling effort. Actually, it was a beast of a thing. The end result was a trifle  so big that the only vessel I could find to place it in was a fishbowl vase (never used as a fishbowl, only ever used as a vase and thoroughly cleaned).

Will and I thought long and hard about  the right combination of textures. We needed a solid, dense chocolate cake to stand up to the softness of the mousse and the stickiness of the jelly, so half a flourless chocolate almond meal torte was employed. There were strained morello cherries at the base.

Over that went a sticky cherry syrup, made from some  pureed morello cherries, their juice and a good kick of kirsch. Then there was half the rumpled cake.

Over that went the softly set cherry jelly.

Then chantilly cream, then a stiff three ingredient chocolate mousse (made from chocolate, hot water and egg whites- the recipe is in the new book ‘Cut the Carbs’). Adorning the top was a cheesecake mousse. And as a garland around the outside? Chocolate crackles.

Maybe it was the return to childhood spurned by our own mini-us that was cruising around my ankles, but I had a feeling that the snap, crackle and pop of chocolate crackles would be just the right texture to take this over the top.

(Quick aside- surely everyone is familiar with chocolate crackles? With a ragged other-worldy appearance, like mud soiled moon rocks, the collection of cocoa and sugar coated rice bubbles/rice krispies are solidified by the mysterious addition of copha. Copha is a strange Australian product – it’s hydrogenated coconut oil. It is not an everyday food (you could substitute coconut oil if you were trying to make this elsewhere, or healthier ).  Chocolate Crackles were a staple at every childhood birthday party, along with jelly oranges and fairy bread. It’s nostalgic hedonism. We eat well 90 per cent of the time- so on birthdays you can tuck into a fish bowl of trifle with some of your closest friends and give yourself over to the magic.

Only half of the trifle was eaten by four of us over a long early-birthday lunch in the new house. A little more was portioned out the morning after while my Dad came for coffee to discuss renovations to the kitchen,  Over the next few nights The Hungry One chipped away at it, until one morning I came out to make a cup of tea and found the fishbowl, cleaned and sparkling and draining on the sink.

Luckily, we only used a quarter of the chocolate crackles in the trifle. The rest are in the fridge. So for his birthday-eve dinner last night we ate a slow carb supper of chickpea flour canneloni with sausage, slow roasted garlic and tomatoes.

And then we finished the night with chocolate crackles and ice cream while our baby slept down the hall.

It was perfect.

Chocolate Crackles

Traditionally these are made in patty-cases with much more sugar and desiccated coconut in the mix. By increasing the cocoa,  cutting the coconut and sugar right down and smoothing them out to a 1.5 cm thickness to set on a tray in the fridge they can be cut into shards that make for the perfect crown for a trifle and also a novelty topping for sundaes (or as a snack or petit four on their own).

Makes a 50 cm x 30 cm tray of crackles.


250 g of copha, chopped, or coconut oil
4 cups of Rice Bubbles/ Rice Krispies/ Puffed rice
3 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa

Here’s how we roll

1) Line a 50 cm x 30 cm baking tray with baking paper

2) Melt the copha or coconut oil until liquid.

3) Stir together the puffed rice, sugar and cocoa. Fold through the liquid copha/coconut oil and press into a flat sheet on the baking paper

4) Refrigerate until firm, then break or cut into pieces.


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  1. One day, when you have run out of black forest options, you will have to reveal his all time favorite… in the meantime happy belated bday to the Hungry One!

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