Monday, August 17, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Éclair Dessert Squares

This recipe contains all of the elements that I do not like in a dessert. First of all, it's no-bake. Ew. That just seems creepy to me. Second, it contains instant pudding mix, again, ew. Third, it contains my nemesis, Cool Whip non-dairy topping. What is that stuff anyway? And yet, in the same way in which two other things I do not care for, gin and tonic, come together and yield something magical, such is the case here as well. Go figure.

When my number one son celebrated his birthday last week, I asked him what he wanted for dessert. His response was...either the
Éclair Squares, or those homemade Twix Bars, or feel free to dazzle with whatever you want. I gave him what he wanted in his first request, with a peanut butter cup twist. There was method to my madness. I knew this made a lot, so I wanted to spread the love around as much as possible. I could feed my son's family, take some to my dad, and serve it to our baseball friend, Lennie, who was coming for dinner the following night, and who never saysnoto anything containing peanut butter.

I adapted the recipe (now rampant online) to reflect our failure to find the Reese's Minis (that I was later told were not particularly good with the peanut butter-to-chocolate ratio way off) so just quartered the small, wrapped peanut butter cups. To do this, I popped them into the fridge for about an hour to get them chilled enough to easily slice. I also cut back on the Cool Whip because it allowed the peanut butter to more strongly come through. (Truth be told, Mr. O-P only came home with the 8-ounce container, so I couldn't use the 12 ounces stated in the original recipe. I won't mention that he also came home with boxes of cooked pudding mix and had to run out for the instant variety while I was in the midst of creating. Nope, won't mention that.) 

This was my first experience using the chocolate graham crackers. I wasn't so sure that I was going to like them, graham cracker purist that I am, but I really did. In fact, it had me wondering if, perhaps, these might make a suitable substitute for the pricey and sometimes difficult to find Famous Chocolate Wafers the next time I make my White Chocolate Cheesecake.

This dessert is easy to assemble, must be made the day ahead (How convenient is that?), and everyone who's tried it has liked it; children particularly seem to make short work of theirs.

 Chocolate Peanut Butter Éclair Dessert Squares

2 3.4-ounce packages instant Jell-O French Vanilla Pudding Mix
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 8-ounce container frozen non-dairy, whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip, and its ilk)
1 14-ounce package chocolate graham crackers
20-25 small, wrapped Reese's peanut butter cups, quartered (divided)
1 16-ounce can prepared chocolate frosting

In the work bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the two packages of dry pudding mix and milk until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add peanut butter, and beat until fully incorporated.

Using a rubber spatula, or the mixer's whisk attachment, slowly fold in the whipped topping until fully incorporated and no streaks remain.

Arrange a single layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. This was a bit problematic for me as they didn't fit evenly (read: largish gaps between them), and the chocolate grahams had no score marks, so couldn't be easily broken. Do your best. In the end, it really doesn't much matter.

Evenly spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers. Sprinkle half of your quartered peanut butter cups over the pudding mixture and gently press them down into the pudding mixture.

Top with another layer of graham crackers, in the same haphazard method as above, and the remaining pudding mixture.

Top with a final layer of graham crackers.

Melt frosting in microwave for 30 seconds and stir until it is an even consistency. Pour over the top, and then spread to the edges with an offset spatula.

Immediately sprinkle the remaining quartered peanut butter cups onto the frosting.

Cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.
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Linda said...

I'm with you - the first time I heard about this dessert, made by one of the church's finest cooks, I was expecting true eclairs. When she gave me the recipe, I thought "whaaaaa???" I once made two 12x18 pans of this for a church supper, and people were crazy for it. I wish I had thought of chocolate grahams! The peanut butter aspect - yum!

Eclectic Red Barn said...

I made something like this once and it was so good, but I never used chocolate graham crackers. Yummy!! I need to try your version.

Unknown said...

Yum. This sounds delicious and pretty simple. You can never go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter.

Miz Helen said...

Oh YES, I will have one of these lovely treats please. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

Miz Helen said...

Your recipe is featured in The Top Ten on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a great day and enjoy your new Red Plate.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

Mimi said...

Yes, yes, yes. This ticks all my boxes Pattie! Looks scrumptious and has all my favourite ingredients. Stamp of approval from me. Thanks for sharing at Five Star Frugal. Love, Mimi xxx