Cheesecake-Chocolate Pudding Bars
You may know it as chocolate delight or chocolate lush, but while this dessert has many names, the recipe rarely varies. Traditionally, it starts with a salty nut base, followed by a mixture of cream cheese and Cool Whip, a layer of boxed-mix chocolate pudding, and then even more Cool Whip. This from-scratch version starts with a crumbly pecan shortbread, which adds texture and salt. The homemade pudding tastes of deep, dark chocolate and serves as the perfect contrast to the simple no-bake cheesecake layer. Gilding the lily with freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings isn’t imperative, but it certainly takes it to another level.
- Serves: 9 persons
- ⅔cup/86 grams all-purpose flour
- ⅔cup/80 grams finely chopped pecans
- ½teaspoon kosher salt
- 5tablespoons/76 grams unsalted butter, melted
- 8ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½cup/62 grams confectioners’ sugar
- 2teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¾cup/187 milliliters cold heavy cream
- 3ounces/85 grams bittersweet or semisweet bar chocolate, chopped
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼cup plus 2 tablespoons/75 grams granulated sugar
- 3tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3tablespoons cornstarch
- ½teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½cups/375 milliliters whole milk
- 3large egg yolks
- 1cup/250 milliliters cold heavy cream
- 1tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- Chocolate shavings (optional)
Step 1Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour, pecans, salt and melted butter; mix with a fork until everything is evenly moistened. Tip the mixture into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish and spread into an even layer. Press the mixture into a flat, even layer using your fingertips. Bake until dry and golden, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Step 2While the crust cools, prepare the cheesecake layer: In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Spread evenly over the prepared crust. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
Step 3Prepare the pudding: Set the chopped chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Add the milk, little by little, while whisking to incorporate it fully. Whisk in the egg yolks.
Step 4Heat the mixture over medium, whisking constantly, until it has thickened and just come to a low boil. Continue to cook the pudding, whisking, for another minute, then immediately pour it into the sieve, pushing it through with a small spatula. Let the pudding stand for 1 minute, then whisk it with the butter and chocolate until smooth. Refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. (To speed up the process, spread the pudding into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Stir often until the pudding has cooled, about 10 minutes.)
Step 5Whisk to remove any lumps that may have formed while cooling. Dollop the cold pudding over the top of the cheesecake. Carefully spread the pudding out into an even layer. Cover and chill until set, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Step 6Whip the remaining heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar to stiff peaks. Spread on top of the pudding. Garnish with chocolate shavings and cut into squares to serve.