Bob and I always look forward to my Florida sister Pam's annual visit. Besides giving me precious time with my baby sis, it means we'll be having one of my hubby's favorite desserts: Chocolate Delight. So everybody wins!
When I pulled out the recipe recently, I was surprised to see I've been making this classic since 1986 (I actually wrote down the date!). Since then, I've fixed it so many times you can practically smell the chocolate on the recipe card. My version layers a crunchy, pecan shortbread crust with a creamy, cheesecake-like base, luscious chocolate pudding center and simple Cool Whip-and-roasted pecan topping.
I adore serving this company-worthy dessert because, aside from being ever-so delicious, it's pretty and really easy to prepare. Each of the layers needs only two to three ingredients and you can take advantage of shortcuts like ready-made whipped topping and instant pudding and pie filling. Also, although it's still a splurge, neutchatel cheese, 1 percent milk and Cool Whip Lite help lower the calorie count.
You need to bake and cool the crust before assembling this sweet treat. Plus, it tastes even better after several hours in the fridge so I usually whip it up in the morning for dinner that night or, better yet, start a day ahead.
A natural choice for summer entertaining, this cool creation feeds a crowd (12 - 16). It's a time-tested favorite with everyone in our family from Pam's teenage son Zach to our chocolate-addicted mom Patsy and our sometimes-hard-to-please niece Ashley. One mention of this layered winner has them all singing, "Yum!"
Preheat oven to 350 degrees while letting margarine come to room temperature.
Place flour, 1 cup crushed pecans and sliced margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine using the flat beater attachment. Or place in a medium bowl and use a pastry blender or two knives to mix the dough.
Pat into a 9x13-inch pan which has been spritzed with cooking spray. Bake 15 minutes. Move to a rack and cool completely.
Place the remaining 1/4 cup crushed pecans on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Move to a baking rack and cool completely.
Combine the neutchatel cheese and powdered sugar with a mixer. Blend in Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust.
Place vanilla and chocolate instant pudding and pie fillings in a large bowl and add milk. Beat two minutes or until thickened. Spread over cheesecake layer.
Spread on the second container of Cool Whip. Top with 1/4 cup crushed, roasted pecans.
Refrigerate at least three hours before serving.
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