Saturday, April 05, 2014

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layered Dessert

(This photo, from Taste of Home, resembles my dessert a little bit, but is not the same.  Mine has a thinner layer of peanut butter, a thicker layer of chocolate pudding, and chocolate whipped cream on the top.  I include this photo only to give you a general idea what the dessert looks like.)
 It's that time of week again -- time to prepare a main dish, salad and/or dessert for our weekly church potluck.  I often bring all three, because we occasionally find there's a week with no salads, or only a couple of desserts.  Layered desserts -- often made in a 13 x9 dish,  with a bottom crust and layers of pudding and cream or whipped topping -- are one of my favorite things to bring to a potluck because they are simple to make and serve quite a few people.

Last week, I happened to be thinking about what I would make for a dessert and was struck by a mild inspiration.  We have, in our family, a favorite pie which we call "Reese's Pie" after one which we enjoyed years ago at a truck stop.  I decided to try and translate that pie into a layered dessert to provide more servings.  It turned out well and so I thought I would share with you all how I did it.

I started with my favorite *gluten-free crust for such desserts:
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use a blend of 1/2 c. brown rice flour, 1/4 c. plus 2 T. potato starch or cornstarch, and 2 T. tapioca starch.)
2 T. sugar
1/4 t. xanthan gum
1/3 cup melted butter

I melt the butter in a bowl and sift in the dry ingredients so all will be well mixed, then stir until crumbly and press evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish.  (This time I got really lazy and melted the butter in the oven, right in the glass dish, then sifted the dry ingredients into the dish too and mixed the crust right in the dish.  It worked okay, but the dish was really too hot to press the crust in place right away, and the mixing left the edges of the dish sort of messy looking.)  A metal pan will work but I prefer glass.  Bake at 350º until set.  Cool before adding next layer.

Peanut butter crumbs: In a larger bowl than you really need, combine 1 cup powdered sugar and and 1/4 to 1/3 cup peanut butter.  Use a pastry blender to produce fairly fine crumbs.  This will make quite a mess if you use too small a bowl.  Reserve about 3 T. crumbs for topping later.  Spread the remaining crumbs over the cooled, baked crust.

Empty 2 boxes (4-serving size) cook-and-serve type chocolate pudding into a large saucepan.  Gradually stir in 3 3/4 cups milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture comes to a full boil.  Cook and stir constantly for 1 more minute, then remove from heat.  Let pudding stand for just a few minutes, then pour the hot pudding over the peanut butter crumbs.  Cool for a few minutes, then place the filled baking dish in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Topping: Make chocolate whipped cream by mixing 3 T. baking cocoa into 1 pint whipping cream.  Beat until cream begins to thicken, then gradually beat in 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 t. vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream over the chilled pudding, and then sprinkle those reserved peanut butter crumbs on top.

Chill until ready to serve.  The powdered sugar in the whipped cream will stabilize it for up to 24 hours or so.  Makes about 15 to 16 servings depending on the size of the squares.

This was very easy to put together; it's just the waiting time between steps, but you can easily go off and do other things while you're waiting to do the next step for the dessert.  Best of all, it tasted yummy and went over very well at the potluck.  I was so pleased with how it came out that I'm making the same dessert again this week!

* Oh, and if you don't want or need to make the crust gluten-free, just substitute regular all-purpose flour and leave out the xanthan gum.

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