Okay….I promise this is the last decadent/dessert/holiday eating post before things get back to normal! But I have to share all the delicious goodness I made and ate over the Easter weekend with you all (which was followed by a produce-packed “detox day” yesterday, I promise!).
In my family, I am the go-to girl when it comes to dessert. My 11 year-old cousin Emily put in a request for Dirt Cake for Easter. Have you ever had dirt cake before? It’s that childhood favourite – chocolate pudding layered with cookie crumbs and gummy worms. But this version is so much better, because the chocolate pudding is mixed with a bit of butter, icing sugar, cream cheese, vanilla extract and Cool Whip for a little something extra. And look at that photo: fat-free pudding mix, skim milk, reduced-fat Oreos, light Cool Whip and cream cheese – I’d say this dessert is practically health food, wouldn’t you? (thank you for indulging my rationalizations). Seriously though, if you can use reduced-fat/light versions of the ingredients called for in a dessert (or any other decadent recipe), why not? It may not be “healthy,” but at least the calories will reduced somewhat. And at Easter (or any holiday), I need all the help I can get!
You’ll notice one ingredient in the photo above that is not in the ingredients list – 12 mini chocolate zucchini muffins. After my mom graciously bought all the Easter groceries (thanks Mom!), I noticed that the package of Oreos she found was smaller than the one listed in the ingredients list. I didn’t want to go back out, but I also didn’t want to be short on “dirt". I knew I had these muffins in the freezer, so I improvised and crumbled them up – I don’t think anyone noticed a difference (or they didn’t say anything if they did). And I figured that zucchini added a little extra fibre, increasing the health benefits of this dessert even more, and then the’re also all the antioxidants in chocolate. Really, it’s practically a superfood. Move over blueberries and quinoa, I think Dirt Cake’s at the top of the list!
This recipe comes from Company’s Coming: Kids Cooking. Honestly, I think some of the best recipes (and several of my family’s favourites) come from kids’ cookbooks (my sugar cookie recipe is also from this book). Kids’ recipes are by nature easy to make, and often crowd pleasers. But enough talking, time to get dirty, so here’s the recipe! I’m listing the standard ingredients, but of course, I used the light versions wherever possible.
From Company’s Coming Kids Cooking
1 package (454 g or 1 lb) cream-filled sandwich cookies (aka Oreos) (or one 350 g package and 12 mini chocolate zucchini muffins )
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz/250 g cream cheese, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 boxes instant chocolate pudding powder (4 serving size)
6 cups milk
1 L container Cool Whip, thawed
15 gummy worms (that’s what the recipe says, but exact quantities don’t really matter here – pretty sure I used more!)
Put the cookies in a blender or food processor and process until they become fine crumbs. Set aside (be sure to pull out any stray Oreo chunks and eat them – it’s the least you could do to save your guests from getting any overly chunk dirt).
Put the butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat on low speed to mix then beat on medium speed until smooth (I used my stand mixer, simply because it makes quite a bit. It’s totally do-able with a hand mixer though).
Add the chocolate pudding powders and milk to the bowl. Beat on low speed to combine.
Fold the whipped topping into the pudding mixture with a rubber spatula. Assemble in layers (I used a large glass trifle bowl. The recipe says you can use a 9 by 13 inch pan or a large flower pot – which is fun for kids. Make sure it’s well-washed though!) as follows:
- 1/3 cookie crumbs
- 1/2 pudding mixture
- 1/3 cookie crumbs
- 1/2 pudding mixture
- 1/3 cookie crumbs
Insert gummy worms into each layer as you go, making sure you can see some poking out of the top! Chill the dessert for at least 3 hours before serving. For extra fun, serve with a plastic shovel or garden trowel.
Now, I could have just made the dirt cake my cousin requested and called it a day. But when have I ever just done a simple dessert that I was asked to make? This dirt needed some flowers! Since my cousin and her sister both love my sugar cookie flowers, I decided to make some flowers on sticks and “plant” them in the dirt.
I used this basic recipe for the cookies, and inserted lollipop sticks into 6 of the cookies before baking.
To decorate the cookies, I made a quick batch of Royal Icing (egg whites and icing sugar – just gradually add more icing sugar to the egg whites, stirring until you reach the consistency you want), and tinted half pale purple and half pale yellow. I achieved the cute swirl effect by spreading on one colour with a small knife, then using a toothpick to dollop little lines/drops of the other colour, then used the toothpick to swirl the colours together. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, and the dirt cake (and flowers) were a hit with my family!
Now just to prove I have some balance in my life, I’ll let you know that I started Monday with an hour and half strength/cardio sweat session at the gym (felt SO good), then came home and had a healthy breakfast of cinnamon apples with yogurt and cereal, and an almond milk/iced coffee concoction.
For lunch, I made what felt like the BIGGEST SALAD OF LIFE (practically identical to this one, plus or minus a few ingredients) to make up for all the veggies I’d been missing over the weekend. For dessert, I made a “pumpkin spice frappucino” of sorts drink with some almond milk, pumpkin that was starting to go moldy in the fridge (don’t worry, I scraped the mold off first!) and a few other ingredients. It was just so-so, so I’m not going to bother posting an ingredient list for you – only the best for my HHH readers! Monday was an around-the-house day – getting caught up on a MOUNTAIN of laundry, working out, eating healthy, reading, blogging, making lunch for today – exactly what I needed after a weekend of moving, baking and eating.
So there’s the “dirt” on my delicious dessert. So you can see, I love to indulge, but I also love to get back on track and eat my veggies right away! Do you have a favourite “kids cooking” type of recipe (or any go-to easy-peasey recipe)? Spread the wealth – share it!