My kids have been on a cherry kick lately to the point where it looks like a murder scene during lunch and snacks – red juice everywhere! Luckily, they are old enough now that I don’t bother pitting their cherries for them, but I’m still willing to pit a few pounds of cherries if the recipe is right – and this cherry trifle is definitely right!

Right now you can find really good cherries and you should use the best you can find for these trifles, but any will work. Ultimately you could even use frozen if you had a serious hankering for this trifle and it was the dead of winter.

Besides the cherries, which get cooked into a simple compote, the key ingredient to this recipe is a creamy whipped mascarpone cheese that gets layered with the cherries and cake. YES PLEASE!

In semi-homemade style, I used a store-bought angel food cake for my version. The cake is not the most important part and any decent sponge cake will get the job done.

It’s the end of cherry season and so make these cherry trifles while you can!

What is a trifle?

A trifle can take many forms, but at it’s core, it’s a layer of usually some sort of sponge cake, a creamy layer, and fruit. They make special trifle serving dishes if you want the big version of a trifle, but I like smaller personal versions that I make in jars.

Trifles are flexible and you should feel free to use substitutions liberally if you are trying a trifle recipe. The point is to make a lighter dessert and use fresh fruit when it is at its peak seasonality. If you start there, you’ll be okay.

What are the best cherries to use?

I don’t have a singular cherry I like for recipes like this, but generally, I prefer Northwestern US cherries. Any ripe, fresh cherry will get the job done here though.

Weighing cherries for the compote.

If you can’t find good fresh cherries, you can use frozen cherries. They work great as well.

You CAN’T use jarred pie filling cherries. Those will be much too sweet in a trifle like this. Nor can you use maraschino cherries. Save those for the bourbon please.

How to pit cherries?

There are a million kitchen hacks that people use to pit cherries. There are even some fancy cherry pitting devices. Personally, I’ve never owned any of those. I have two methods that I use, depending on the day.

Method one, I use chopsticks and a glass bottle. The cherry sits on the bottle, you poke the chopstick through, and the pit falls into the bottle. Done. (This mostly works. Sometimes the pit is stubborn and won’t come out easily).

Method two, and the method I use if I’m cutting the cherries in half anyway, is to use a small knife to cut the cherries and press down on the pit. The pit will pop loose from the force of the knife and you can just separate each half. It’s a bit messy, but is also pretty fast.

Pitting cherries with a knife.

How to make cherry compote

Making the cherry compote for these trifles couldn’t be easier once you have your cherries prepped. Just add all your ingredients to a pot and simmer them over medium-low heat for a few minutes.

Making cherry compote with fresh cherries.

You want to stop the cooking when the cherries have started to break down a bit but are still very clearly cherries. Don’t cook them into a jam. This will probably take 4-5 minutes depending on your heat and pan. Then you can cool them down in the skillet or transfer them to a jar.

Use the compote either at room temperature or chilled for the trifles.

Cherry compote done in a jar.

How to make whipped mascarpone

The next step of the trifle is the whipped mascarpone. For this I just combine the cheeses in a mixing bowl and mix with a hand mixer. You could use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but it seemed like more work than it was worth to bust it out.

Cheese mixtures for whipping.

After you add the powdered sugar it will resemble a light, fluffy frosting, which is pretty much what you are going for here, although definitely not as sweet as a frosting.

Whipped mascarpone cheese.

Finishing the trifle – small or big?

You could absolutely add these layers to a large trifle container with sponge cake (angel food cake) and the cherry compote. Build the layers up and you are in business. I prefer to make smaller individual serving sizes for my trifles. I’ve done this before with my Tapioca Trifles and my berry lemon jar trifles.

If you go for the smaller version, you should get 6-8 servings out of the ingredients depending on how packed you make each jar or bowl and how big you make them.

Cherry Trifle with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese

5 from 1 vote
Author: Nick Evans
Servings: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
A wonderful summer dessert! Quick-simmered fresh cherries cooked into a simple compote and topped in layers with sponge cake and whipped mascarpone cheese! Doesn’t get better than this!


Cherry Compote:

  • 1 ½ pound cherries
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt

Whipped Mascarpone Cheese:

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 sponge cake or angel food cake


  • For cherry compote, half cherries, removing pits. Then add to a medium pot over medium-low heat with sugar, orange juice, vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Cook until cherries come to a simmer and start to break down slightly, but are still in visible halves, maybe 4-5 minutes. Then remove from heat and let cool to at least room temperature.
  • For whipped mascarpone, combine room temperature cream cheese and mascarpone cheese in a mixing bowl. Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Whip in powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until it resembles a light frosting.
  • To make the trifles, tear pieces of angel food cake or sponge cake and place in a the bottom of a jar or bowl. Top with a spoonful of whipped cheese and some of the cherry compote. Repeat with 2-3 layers of the ingredients. You should get about 8 mini trifles out of the ingredients or you could layer them into one large trifle cake. Personally, I prefer the smaller versions.
  • If you have it assembled, the trifle will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days or if you have it in parts, for 5-6 days and you can assemble when needed.


Serving: 1plate | Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 245mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 474IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American

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Storage instructions for cherry trifle

These cherry trifles will keep for a few days once you have them assembled, but they keep best actually in their individual parts. The whipped mascarpone will keep fine for 5 days and the cherry compote would keep for a week or two in the fridge. Then assemble when you need a trifle!

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