Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sex in a pan. Or a mason jar, as the case may be.

My sister introduced me to sex in a pan many, many years ago. I have no idea why it's called that, but it's a delicious and easy to make dessert. It has a pecan-shortbread crust on the bottom, topped with layers of cream cheese, pudding and whipped cream. I know it doesn't really sound like a grown-up dessert, but trust me, it's worth making.

Alan and I have our annual work picnic tomorrow where we head out to Toronto Island with both of our labs for an afternoon of cavorting. There's frisbee, soccer, baseball, and sometimes swimming. And of course, much eating. We have an ethnically diverse group of people, so the pot luck lunch is really something to look forward to.

Since I would have an appreciative audience I considered making microbiology themed cookies like these for dessert (minus the petri dishes, of course - that would just be weird to take on a picnic).

I decided that I didn't have a spare six hours for cookie decorating so I was wracking my brain for something simpler to take. Then last night we were out for dinner and had key lime pie for dessert. The restaurant served it up in a mason jar, and gave me the great idea to make individual desserts in a mason jar. Perfect for a picnic!

I googled dessert in a mason jar and came up with several recipes for cheesecake in a jar. I considered making it, but then decided to be adventurous and try modifying sex in a pan for 250 mL wide-mouth mason jars. I made 20 jars, and found that doubling the recipe (below) was just perfect for this number.

After mixing the base crust, I scooped 2 generous tablespoons into the bottom of each jar and patted it down using the bottom of a glass. I loaded the jars onto a large baking sheet and baked at 350°C for about 15 minutes.

I let the jars cool completely before preparing the next layers. The first layer is cream cheese, sugar and whip cream beaten together until it's light and fluffy. I dropped it in with a spoon and then smoothed it out as best I could.

The second and third layers are chocolate and vanilla pudding. I have to admit (as hard as it is to believe) that I had never made instant pudding before. I used Jello brand; the directions say to beat it for 2 minutes, but with the first batch I discovered that it solidified too quickly, was hard to portion out with a spoon, and ended up lumpy in the jars.  

I mixed subsequent batches in my 4 cup pyrex  measuring cup using my hand held beater for 80 seconds (and yes, I did time it). It was just starting to thicken at this point, and working quickly I was able to use the spout and pour each layer into the jar where it self-leveled.

The final layer is plain old whipped cream, 

and then I topped it all off with some chocolate shavings.

The jars are all closed up and chilling in the fridge. Now I'm hoping that I have the strength to lug them down to the ferry tomorrow!

Sex in a Pan
1 cup chopped pecans
3 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour

Cream cheese layer:
1 pkg cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup whipped cream

Vanilla and chocolate pudding
1 package instant pudding
2 cups of milk

1. Mix all of the ingredients for the crust together and add two generous tablespoons to each mason jar (makes 10 jars). Place jars on a baking sheet and bake at 350°C for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
2. In a mixer, whip the cream cheese and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the whipped cream and mix well. Divide evenly between jars and smooth out to edges.
3. Beat the milk and pudding on high speed for 80 seconds, then quickly pour into the jars. I put the chocolate in first and then the vanilla for the contrast between layers.
4. Top off the jars with whipped cream (about 2 cups total) and sprinkle with chocolate shavings.
5. Close up the jars and refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow the dessert to set.

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