Mocha Trifle

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Does this qualify as a Meatless Monday offering?  Regardless, this little treat is a good dessert when you want something make-ahead and you need to feed a crowd.  I would estimate that you could easily feed 15 people with this.  

While not a traditional trifle, the family dessert is no place for semantics.  Chocolate cake is cut into cubes and soaked with coffee.  That is then topped by coffee-laced white chocolate pudding and whipped cream, and all is topped off with chocolate shavings and chopped up chocolate covered espresso beans.  Don't leave those out, for they are what send this dessert over the mocha edge.  I will post the dessert as I made it, but will also post alternative ingredients to the side and explain in the notes section.

Mocha Trifle
serves 15

1 chocolate cake, baked in a 9x13 pan
1 large tub cool whip or approx. 2 cups heavy cream, whipped (you want about 6 cups total whipped cream)
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
3-4 packages white chocolate instant pudding mix
4 cups almond milk OR 6 cups cow's milk
Dark chocolate bar (optional)
3 Tb. Chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped

Bake a chocolate cake according to recipe or package directions.  When cooled, cut into about 1 inch cubes.

Make your instant pudding (if you're a purist, feel free to make your own pudding; you want about 5-6 cups):
            Dissolve either instant coffee or instant espresso in your milk before adding it to your pudding mixture.  The amount depends on your own desire for the coffee flavor to shine through, but I'd go with about 1/3 cup intsant coffee or 3 Tb. instant espresso.  If you, like me, need a dairy free option, you need 4 boxes of pudding mix.  Mix 1 box mix to 1 cup almond milk, dissolving the instant espresso/coffee into your milk prior to mixing with the pudding.  If you don't need a dairy free option, you could get away with 2-3 boxes pudding mix, and follow package directions with amount of milk, adding the instant coffee/espresso prior to mixing with pudding mix.  Set aside.

In a large bowl or trifle bowl, layer as follows:
Place a layer of cake cubes in the bottom of the bowl.  If you have a plastic squeeze bottle, pour half your brewed coffee/espresso into the bottle and squirt over the cake.  Top with half the pudding mixture, and the top that with the whipped topping/cream.  Repeat layers.  On top, for garnish, scatter chopped, chocolate covered espresso beans and, if desired, use a small hole zester/grater (such as a Microplane) to grate little chocolate shavings on top.  Cover and refrigerate about a day or two before you need to serve.


  • My dad can't have dairy, which sometimes presents a challenge in making desserts.  I mean, take away milk, cream, butter, sour cream, and cream cheese, and you're left with a baking challenge.  While not the food snobby thing to do, I used a cake mix, pudding mixes with almond milk, and whipped topping.  If you're a purist, feel free to make all these homemade.  There are also low sugar and sugar free options in most of these products, which make it helpful for those with diabetes.  
  • This tasted pretty good the day I served it (1 day after I made it), but it tasted way better and the mocha flavor really came through the next day, so you could make this as far as 2-3 days in advance and still have a killer dessert.  Garnish before you serve rather than when you make it.
  • Feel free to try another pudding flavor, such as cheesecake, vanilla, or even chocolate.  I like the color contrast of the coffee-colored pudding.
  • We liked this pretty well as is, but I thought about adding a crunchy element/layer through the dessert.  If you want to play a little bit, add in some chocolate biscotti or more chocolate covered espresso beans between the pudding and whipped cream layers.
  • By the way, when pouring/squirting the coffee over the cake, you don't want to absolutely inundate the cake with coffee.  It shouldn't be so soggy it falls apart.  You just want to impart some coffee flavor into the cake.

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