Robert Redford Dessert {My Way}

from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: you'll notice from my pictures that the crust on the layered dessert is thicker than normal. That's because I like a lot of crust - so I double the crust ingredients below (having said that, my husband much prefers the thinner crust - so follow your instincts and do what you like - if you've never made it before, I'd suggest just using the normal amounts below and not doubling to see how you like it that way) and bake the crust for about 12 minutes. Also, make note that if you are making pudding from scratch, that step can, and should, be done ahead of time - even up to 2 days ahead - so the pudding has time to cool completely. If homemade pudding isn't your thing, you can substitute 2 small packages of instant pudding mixed with 4 cups of milk.

*Serves 12

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup flour

1 cup finely chopped or blended chopped pecans or walnuts

Cream Cheese Layer:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

2 cups heavy whipping cream + 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Pudding Layer:

4 cups homemade chocolate pudding

Reserved whipped cream and chocolate curls for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

For the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the flour in a medium bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chopped nuts. Press the crust into a 9X13-inch aluminum or glass pan and bake for 8-10 minutes until set. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely before proceeding.

For the cream cheese layer, in a medium bowl, combine the heavy whipping cream and 1/4 cup powdered sugar and whip at high speed until stiff peaks form. In another large bowl, whip together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Fold in about 3/4 of the sweetened whipped cream and mix until blended, taking care to mix gently so as not to deflate the whipped cream. Set aside both the cream cheese mixture and the remaining sweetened whipped cream.

To assemble, spread the whipped cream cheese mixture over the cooled crust. Top the cream cheese layer with the chocolate pudding, spreading all the way to the edges of the pan. Top with the remaining sweetened whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into slices and top with chocolate curls or shaved chocolate, if desired.