Raise your hand if your are not familiar with this layered pudding dessert? It is one popular delicacy, let me tell you, which I can attest to since we ate it all the time growing up. My mother was quite the layered-pudding-dessert-connoisseur. And she’ll love me for saying that (hi, mom!).
I had kind of forgotten about this beauty of a treat until Lindsay a reader and fellow blogger emailed me pictures of a version she had made (called Sadie’s Dessert) and let me know she had used the homemade pudding recipes with stellar success. Apparently homemade pudding has a lovely, thick, creamy consistency which makes slicing this dessert quite dreamy compared to the boxed pudding that can remain a bit runny.
So I decided it was time to resurrect the good ol’ Robert Redford dessert for my family to enjoy. It goes by many a name but Robert Redford Dessert is how I know it even though I have no idea the why’s and wherefore’s of the name. I made a few modifications of my own – keeping the pudding strictly chocolate (instead of mixing in or alternating layers of vanilla pudding) and using sweetened whipped cream instead of cool whip. I’d say, judging by the family’s exclamations of joy, it went over just as well as if Robert Redford would have walked into our kitchen himself. Ok, actually, the dessert went over even better since my kids have no idea who the dickens Robert Redford is and would be much more impressed with a visit from the Kratt brothers (Wild Kratts on PBS anyone?) or R2D2.
Making the pudding ahead of time, as well as the other components, makes this dessert a breeze, and I’m telling you, it’s just a classically great dessert to have in your recipe base. The chocolate curls, while not necessary, make an otherwise down-home pudding dessert seem a bit more gourmet. That is until one of your children, who shall remain nameless in my family, use one or four of them as missiles to shoot at their brothers. Definitely not gourmet. Welcome to my world.
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.
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup finely chopped or blended chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream + 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 4 cups homemade chocolate pudding
- Reserved whipped cream and chocolate curls for garnish
- 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.