Yes. Sex. In a pan.
This is what I promised you, way back when.
As someone who practically fetishizes homemade desserts and other goodies, I am simultaneously fascinated and horrified by good old Murican classic desserts—such as sex in a pan—which are heavily reliant on boxed cake mixes, instant pudding, flavored gelatin, and, of course, Cool Whip. Dessert snobs (like me) can dismiss these desserts as grub of the plebian masses…but when it comes to potlucks and barbecues, guess which disappears first: an intricately constructed torte, or the trough of Oreo delight?
Yeah. I think we all know the answer to that.
|*Moans uncontrollably* source|
I speak from experience. Last year, I attended a party to which I brought some lemon meringue cupcakes stuffed with lemon curd—this was before I became interested in vegan baking—and they were fucking amazing, if I do say so myself. There’s just something special about meringue with lemon.
But someone else brought a pan of Oreo delight.
I’ll spare you the tragic details and just say that I brought home quite a lot of leftover cupcakes, but there wasn’t a crumb of that goddamn Cool Whip monstrosity to be seen after half an hour.
It’s magical, really. What else holds such a powerful grip on our taste buds? Why do even high-strung foodies bow down to the packets of instant pudding and cans of sweetened condensed milk and cake mix and the like? What is so special about them anyway?
Hint: that’s what Michael Moss was onto in Salt Sugar Fat.
|Made of air, water, and freshly ground crack cocaine. source|
And most importantly, is it possible to replicate this effect with scratch-made food?
Sex in a pan is a classic dessert, apparently, known by many names—“chocolate sin, sex in a pan, better than sex, better than Robert Redford, almost a sin, girdle buster, chocolate dessert, chocolate pudding dessert, chocolate delight, chocolate dream and even Mississippi mud”, as Deep South Dish explains. It is often composed of a shortbread crust, a cream cheese layer, vanilla and chocolate pudding layers, and some sort of whipped topping, sometimes with chopped chocolate scattered on top. It is notoriously addictive and should be made at one’s own risk.
Can’t really tell you with a straight face that this is better than sex, exactly.
But it’s pretty good.
|Depends on the quality of, well, a lot of things.|
So this here dessert is my interpretation of good old sex in a pan, veganized, with cookie dough. I was a bit concerned that there might not be enough textural contrast (wow such fancy very vocab) so the chewy, crunchy goodness of chocolate chip cookie dough fit the bill perfectly. Adds a bit of extra sexiness too.
But before we begin, I have a brief disclaimer: the slice you see here was cut from a frozen batch, thus ensuring the layers don’t smush together. Once thawed out, it’s a bit softer but still easy to portion out. No need to panic.
In addition, the crust recipe you see here is a basic graham cracker crust made with coconut oil. After having way too many s’mores, we had three boxes of graham crackers leftover with not much else to do with them, so I decided to use up a few in this recipe. Only after I had finished making this did it occur to me that hey, “honey grahams” aren’t exactly vegan. Cuz you know, honey. This wasn’t a disaster since I’m not a strict vegan (more like a flexitarian wannabe vegan) however I recommend using the shortbread crust already included in Jo Cooks’ recipe with coconut oil instead of butter. For the vegainz.
Otherwise, it’s totally free of animal products. Now ain’t that sexy.
|Now let us withdraw the veil!|
Sex in a pan
Inspired by Jo Cooks
100 grams • pecans, chopped • 1 cup
38 grams • granulated sugar • 3 tablespoons
112 grams • coconut oil, softened • ½ cup
125 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 cup
Cream “cheese” layer
137 grams • cashews, soaked for about four hours and drained • 1 cup
120 grams • powdered sugar • 1 cup
1 recipe coconut whipped cream
Vanilla pudding (adapted from Hell Yeah It’s Vegan)
24 grams • cornstarch • 3 tablespoons
610 grams • nondairy milk • 2 ½ cups
133 grams • granulated sugar • 2/3 cup
26 grams • Earth Balance • 2 tablespoons
8 grams • vanilla extract • 2 teaspoons
Cookie dough (adapted from these crazy bars)
113 grams ● Earth Balance, softened ● ½ cup
165 grams ● brown sugar ● ¾ cup, packed
8 grams ● vanilla ● 2 teaspoons
3 grams ● salt ● ½ teaspoon
125 grams ● all-purpose flour ● 1 cup
30 grams ● nondairy milk ● 2 tablespoons
168 grams ● nondairy mini chocolate chips ● 1 cup
Chocolate pudding (adapted from Baked Bree)
67 grams • granulated sugar • 1/3 cup
27 grams • cocoa powder • 1/3 cup
32 grams • cornstarch • ¼ cup
2 grams • salt • ¼ teaspoon
732 grams • nondairy milk • 3 cups
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
26 grams • Earth Balance • 2 tablespoons
1 or 2 more recipes coconut whipped cream
Chopped chocolate, optional
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and greasing a 9 x 13 baking pan. Set aside.
Combine all ingredients under “crust” in an electric stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined. Press in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding other layers—you can speed up the process by using the freezer. It’s not cheating, I swear.
To make cream cheese layer, blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and whisk as hard as you can for a minute or two. Spread over crust in an even layer. Store in fridge while you prepare the other layers.
To make vanilla pudding, head over to Hell Yeah It’s Vegan for the instructions. Basically, make the pudding as described and allow to cool completely before using. Do the same thing with the chocolate pudding layer—instructions over at Baked Bree.
To make cookie dough, beat Earth Balance in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and cream until light and fluffy once again. Add vanilla, salt, and flour and mix just until a dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips. Using your hands, form small balls of cookie dough and set aside.
Once all of the pudding is cooled, spread vanilla pudding over cream cheese layer. Sprinkle cookie dough over that, then cover it with chocolate pudding. Smear coconut whipped cream over the whole thing. If you want, feel free to add chopped chocolate, just to make me jealous.
|Wow June your food photography never ceases to amaze.|
So how is it?
Insane. That’s what it is. I had to peel my trembling fingers away from the pan with a wrench. It is now locked up in a safe armed with a supercomputer and ten different firewalls and still I dream of embracing its pillows of cream. I sleepwalk into its grasp and awake with my face covered in cookie dough and chocolate pudding. All other food is tasteless now that this has entered into my life.
Does it compare to the instant-puddin’ packaged version? No. There is no contest—this shit is amazing. It’s basically sex with cookie dough. And how could you not love that?