Sometimes just a little ray of sunshine can reveal a happy day during a dark hour of your life. That’s exactly what happened to me. I have known Marcy Templeton for close to 10 years, but it wasn’t until an adventure went sour several years ago that we really grew our friendship. Even now, though we have lived miles apart over the past two years, our bond has remained ever so strong.
And, if there ever was an amazing chef/cook….it would be Marcy and her beautiful mother, Tammy. They truly amaze me in the kitchen. And it is with that little bit of information, that I leave this article in Marcy’s hands to share one of her favorite recipes with you.
Tiramisu. Triple chocolate 7-layer cake. Crème brulee. These are many of the “fancy” dessert that I love. They’re elegant, delicious, and complex. Lately, I find myself having more respect for desserts that meet those standards. After all, a recipe that requires you make every item from scratch or that requires special equipment garners more respect, right? And a simple recipe that has few ingredients and uses, for instance, a packet of instant pudding is somehow lesser, right? That seems to be my mindset lately. But, you know what? That is utter foolishness! Isn’t “taste” the only thing that really matters? Who cares how you get there! If it’s good, it’s good. And this dessert is goooooood!
Chocolate Éclair Cake. The first time I ever tasted this was when my Granny made it for one of many family get-togethers we had growing up. I was a really picky eater up until just a couple of years ago, so, as a child, I never really looked forward to big meals with my family. There just usually wasn’t much I’d eat. For the main course anyway. Dessert was another thing entirely. No matter what meal we had, I always knew there’d be desserts I’d love to eat! And chocolate éclair cake was frequently one of those desserts. Even as a young adult, if I opened up the fridge first thing in the morning to find that my mom had put together a chocolate éclair cake to be served after supper, I’d squeal with glee like a little kid! Who am I joking? I’d do that now! Truly, it’s one of the best things in the whole wide universe. I’m not even exaggerating. I really don’t know why I’m talking it up so much. All you want is the recipe, right? Well here you go!
To start, spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
Then, mix instant pudding and milk in a bowl and blend for about 2 minutes. I used a hand mixer but a stand mixer would sure come in handy! (I feel like there’s a pun there…)
Next, just fold in the cool whip. I used a rubber “spoonula” and I must say, if you don’t have one, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice! I bought mine not too long ago and I’ve already used it a ton. It’s great for scraping down the sides of a bowl, AND scooping out the contents. One utensil that does the work of two? Fewer dirty dishes? Sign me up!
Next up is the chocolaty topping! Some recipes call it a frosting, but it really seems more like a ganache to me. It starts out just thin enough to spread on but once it cools, it’s nice and fudgy! The recipe I was using when I made this last called for a certain amount of this ganache but once I had it mixed up I saw that it wasn’t enough. Sure, it might have been enough to top the whole dish but you’d have to use every last drop. If you use every last drop, there’s none left to lick out of the bowl or off of the spoon! That’s just a tragedy I’m not willing to subject you fine readers to! So, I doubled the amount of ganache! (I adjusted it in the recipe so the amount listed below is the correct amount to use.)
You’ll need to add the cocoa, powdered sugar, butter, and warm milk to a bowl and mix it until smooth. At this point, use your best judgment for consistency. It ought to be just right in the proportions listed, but if it seems too thick, add more milk and if it seems too thin, add more powdered sugar.
Now all that’s left is to put it all together. First, add a single layer of graham crackers to the casserole dish.
Then you’ll put in half of the pudding mix. Just be careful when you spread it not to move around the crackers too much because that will turn into a big mess.
Top that with another layer of graham crackers. Next, put on the rest of the pudding mix followed by the last layer of crackers. Finally, put on the ganache. I used all but about a quarter of a cup and I ate the rest! But if you like, you can use all of it. It’s really up to you! It might be a little tricky to spread the ganache on if you apply it all in one big pile, so apply it in several big dollops, which you’ll then spread together.
And that’s it! But here’s the hardest part. You’ll have to put the “cake” in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight for the graham crackers to soften. Or, if you’re at all like me, put it in the fridge with the intentions of leaving it for 8 hours but lose all self control after 4 hours, scoop out a piece, and just eat it in its half softened state! It’s pretty good like that too!