Just in time for Halloween: Death by Chocolate Trifle

Funny photo by JD Hancock

Death by Chocolate is a simple, decadent recipe that my friend Crista shared with me twelve years ago after she brought it to a care group meeting one Sunday night at a friend’s home. My whole family fell in love with it, so I asked her how she did it. I still have her email reply printed off from that day twelve years ago.  Call me sentimental.  🙂

Crista’s Death by Chocolate was simple, and some of you probably have your own version, I bet. She used Entenmann’s brownies, prepared pudding cups, Cool Whip, coffee and Heath bars.  She was and is a busy mom, working full time at a hospital at that time, and had two young children. She needed a quick dessert that people would enjoy, and she found that in this recipe!

I still make this dessert from time to time as a special treat for my guys, as I did last night. However, since I was not rushed yesterday, I took my time and made parts of this from scratch.



First, I made my simple brownies from scratch. (the recipe post will open in a pop-up window)

(Oh, just think of this: pumpkin-chocolate brownies! I’m trying that next time as a nice nod to Fall/Halloween!)

Then I made a large box and a small box of instant Jell-o chocolate pudding, yielding five cups of pudding. You could certainly make this from scratch, too. (here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart that you could double).

I purchased a bag of milk chocolate Heath bar bits. These are available on your store’s baking aisle alongside the bags of chocolate chips, and they come with or without chocolate. I always choose with! These are a great time-saver; twelve years ago they weren’t available so we bought individual Heath candy bars and broke them up  inside a kitchen towel by banging them with a knife handle or a small hammer.


Next, I bought a quart of heavy whipping cream, and whipped three cups of it with my mixer’s whisk. (place your whisk and bowl in the freezer for a little while first, as the coldness helps the cream stay cold and whip up much more beautifully). As I whip the cream with mixer set on high, I sprinkle about three tablespoons of granulated sugar, a little bit at a time, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract into the cream. It turns out beautifully! Now, if you’ve never done this before, just know that if you whip for TOO long, you’ll end up making butter. Keep your eye on it, and stop it when it looks just right. You know what whipped cream looks like, right? 🙂


Making your own whipped cream just makes this dessert. Cool Whip, though cheap and easy, is nowhere near as decadent and delicious as real whipped cream. Price difference? The quart of cream was about $2.28, a large container of Cool Whip was about $1.27. That small price difference makes a huge amount of difference in taste and texture in your finished product. Give it a try, if you can!

The last ingredient is coffee; save about 1/3 cup from your morning pot and put it aside. If you don’t have any, just skip it.

When brownies are completely cool, poke holes in them with a fork, then sprinkle the coffee over the brownies with a teaspoon, allowing time for the coffee to be absorbed before cutting into squares.

To assemble, use a trifle bowl or other large bowl.

Cover the bottom of the bowl with a layer of brownies.

Spread a layer of chocolate pudding over the brownies.

Cover the pudding with a layer of whipped cream.

Sprinkle a generous amount of Heath chips over the whipped cream, and then repeat the layering again.

Finish the top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with Heath chips.

I hope you’ll make this for your family, or for a gathering of friends when you’ve been asked to bring a dessert! It always elicits ooohs and ahhhhs when I share it with friends.


Death by Chocolate Trifle

  • 9×13 pan of brownies
  • 4-5 cups of chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped with 3 TBS sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • bag of Heath bar chips
  • 1/3 cup coffee

Assemble the trifle in a large bowl, beginning with layer of brownies, then layer of pudding, then layer of whipped cream, topped with Heath chips. Repeat, finishing with whipped cream topped with a sprinkling of Heath chips.



You might also like my recipe for Cheesecake Brownies; they’re so wonderful!



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