Death by Chocolate Trifle

Photo Credit: JohnHancockPhoto/Shutterstock

Growing up, dessert was never a guilty pleasure. It was actually considered a required part of dinner whenever my grandmother had any say in the situation. According to her, you could save your leftover dinner for lunch the next day, if needed, so that you had ample room for dessert. This caused me to develop a massive sweet tooth very early on, one that I don’t think I’ll ever shake.

I also grew up with a mom who often hosted her friends for various gatherings at our house. For each of these occasions, she would go into full type-A planning mode and leave no detail out — this meant there was always a fabulous food spread, and many times I would help her prepare select dishes the night before.

I’ll never forget the first time she made Death by Chocolate. This extra-chocolatey trifle-style dessert featured layer after layer of chocolate, whipped cream, coffee-soaked brownies, and crushed Heath bars. As a 10-year-old, I remember thinking this was created just for me, as it was made with all of my favorite things. That’s the year I stopped asking for cake for my birthday and only dreamed of Death by Chocolate.

To this day two decades later, it’s still a favorite of mine. It's so pretty to present at parties in a footed trifle dish. The best part: You can prepare it ahead of time.


  • 13 x 9 pan of baked brownies (use a homemade recipe or your favorite boxed mix)
  • ⅓ cup brewed coffee or espresso
  • 3 cups whipped cream, separated into two equal parts (made by whipping heavy cream until reaching stiff peaks or used store-bought)
  • 1 cup crush toffee candy bars, like Heath Bars
  • 1 batch of chocolate mousse, ingredients to follow

For chocolate mousse:

  • ⅓ cup water 
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups whipped cream (from above)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Start by preparing your brownies according to package instructions or your favorite recipe. Allow brownies to cool completely. Once cool, poke holes all over brownies with a fork and pour coffee over the top. Set aside and allow coffee to soak in.

While brownies are in the oven, start working on the chocolate mousse. Place chocolate chips, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt into a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler. If using a microwave, heat in 30-second intervals and stir in between each. If using a double broiler, warm on medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted and smooth, fold in whipped cream and vanilla extract. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least one hour to chill.

Now it’s time to assemble! Crumble brownies in the pan and layer a third of them evenly on the bottom of a trifle bowl (a pretty glass bowl will do, too). Next, add a layer of chilled chocolate mousse, followed by a layer of whipped cream and crushed toffee candy. Repeat each layer until finished and top with extra toffee candy.

Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days.

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