Ashley's Four Layered Chocolate Dessert
My family absolutely loves this dessert. It vanishes quickly every time I make it. This recipe can be made a day ahead. It is highly talked about at our friends and family gatherings. Place this one in your "keeper" file. This recipe is one of Ashley Judd's favorites from the Naomi Judd Home Companion Book.
unsweetened cocoa powder
pure vanilla extract
heavy cream or 1 cup nondairy whipped topping
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
heavy cream or 2 cups nondairy whipped topping
chopped pecans or more if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a glass 8 x 8 x 2 inch square dish/pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Make the first layer: In small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour until well blended. Stir in the pecans. Scrape the mixture into prepared baking dish/pan and press evenly over the bottom of the dish/pan. (Hint: it will look like a shortbread crust). Bake in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Oven temperatures vary so keep an eye it so that you don't over brown it. Transfer the dish/pan to a wire rack to cool.
While crust is cooling, prepare chocolate layer, which is the third layer: In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks and milk until well blended and smooth. Cook, stirring over medium heat until thickened and boiling, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the butter & vanilla. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Place a piece of waxed paper directly on the surface of the mixture, and let cool, about 30 minutes.
Make the second layer: In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream, if using, until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat together the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Add the whipped cream or nondairy whipped topping and, at low speed, beat just until blended. Spread over the cooled first layer in the baking dish/pan.
To form the third layer: Spread the chocolate mixture over the cream cheese layer. Place a piece of waxed paper directly on the surface of the mixture and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until firm and chilled or overnight. (I do it overnight). You can make this recipe up to this point a day ahead.
Make the fourth layer: Take glass dish/pan from the refrigerator and remove the waxed paper from the top. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the heavy cream (if using) until stiff peaks form. Spread the top with the whipped cream or the nondairy whipped topping. Sprinkle with pecans and serve or refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!