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Chocolate Yummy

From Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana by Donald Link, Clarkson Potter

Chocolate Yummy might not be part of your dessert vernacular, but in Cajun Country, everybody knows what this dish is. The “yummy” architecture begins with a base of crumbled cookies (usually store-bought), followed by layers of sweetened cream cheese, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip. I have a few aunts who specialize in this dessert, so it never fails to conjure up memories of family get-togethers. This is the type of dessert that someone pulls out of the fridge after a big meal or cookout, and even when guest think they’re too full, they find themselves polishing off a portion of yummy.

Here is a grown-up version that’s a bit more sophisticated, because I have lost my taste for the super-sweet original. Here, a rich pecan shortbread base is topped with cream cheese, a silky pudding made with dark chocolate, and fresh whipped cream. I’m pretty sure it would even win my aunt’s approval.

Ingredients
Pecan shortbread:
3 ounces pecans, toasted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate pudding:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 pound cream cheese
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Instructions
1. Place the pecans and sugar in a food processor, and pulse together for 30 seconds.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla, and the pecan-sugar mixture, then stir in the flour and salt until just mixed. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

4. Use your fingers to press the chilled dough into a 9-inch square baking dish. Prick the dough with a fork, and bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool the cooked dough while preparing the remaining layers.

5. Heat the cream for the pudding in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the sugar and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. When the cream is hot (but not boiling), temper the cream into the yolks by slowly adding half the cream while stirring vigorously, then stir the egg mixture back into the cream in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

6. Place the dark and milk chocolate in a mixing bowl with the butter, vanilla, and salt. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate and butter are melted. Spread the pudding in a shallow dish to cool, and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on the surface so a skin does not form.

7. In a small mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar together until smooth.

8. In the bowl on an electric mixer, or by hand, whip the cream to soft peaks, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip a few minutes more, until stiff peaks form.

9. Spread the cream cheese over the cooled shortbread crust, top with the pudding, and then add the whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Garnish with additional chocolate shavings, if desired.

Serves 6 to 8