Friday, September 07, 2012

five-layer afternoon delight

"Sex in a Pan."  That's the given name to this incredible dessert - at least the current name in vogue.  I remember this five-layer dessert from the 70's!  I can't remember what it was called back then, but I do know, it wasn't Sex In A Pan.  I would have definitely remembered that. :)  Don't get me wrong, I love the name - it TOTALLY fits; however, I just can't imagine my sweet 3 year old grandson walking up to me and asking, "Nonna, can I have more Sex in a Pan?!"  So, I decided to rename it - Afternoon Delight!  I really don't know if that's much better, lol; however, Afternoon Delight (as I sing the song) makes me smile and think of the 70's, and a much simpler time, like the dessert! :)

What is it about nostalgic desserts like this - they disappear for a time, only to resurface years later, to be discovered again by a new generation.  I think it's because they are incredibly delicious, quick and easy to make, and lend a bit of comfort, as well!  Afternoon Delight is truly timeless!

I just love watching friends take their first bite into the crunchy, sweet bottom crust with the four creamy layers upon it, and see the expressions on their faces.  The usual explanation is - O.  M.  G. !!!  Then, amazingly, they don't say another word, and just go about finishing it in total silence, savoring each scrumptious forkful.

Have fun creating this divine dessert to serve to your friends and family!  …and feel free to name it what you like best! :)  Whatever name you choose,  have my blog name ready, because this will be one of those desserts that everyone will want the recipe for!

Happy Friday - have a beautiful weekend!

Until next time…mangia!  xox


Afternoon Delight
Serves 12 plus


layer 1 - for the crust
1 cup pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temperature, but not too soft)
1 cup flour

layer 2 - for the cream cheese layer
1 - 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

layer 3 - for the chocolate pudding
2 - 1 oz packages of instant or cook & serve chocolate pudding (I used sugar free/fat free)
3 cups milk (I used 2% milk)

layer 4 - for the vanilla pudding
2 - 1 oz packages of instant or cook & serve vanilla pudding (I used sugar free/fat free)
3 cups milk (I used 2% milk)

layer 5 - for the whipped cream topping
2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
chocolate shavings for garnish

Create the Afternoon Delight:
  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  • Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or glass dish with baking spray.
  • With a hand mixer, mix all the crust ingredients until they all come together.  Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes.  Let cool.
  • Prepare the chocolate pudding according to package directions.  Set aside in refrigerator.
  • Prepare the vanilla pudding according to package directions.  Set aside in refrigerator.
  • Whip the 3 cups of heavy whipping cream.
  • In another bowl add the cream cheese, powdered sugar and one cup of whipped cream.  Mix until light and fluffy.
  • Spread the cream cheese layer over the cooled crust evenly.
  • Spread the chocolate pudding evenly over the cream cheese layer.
  • Spread the vanilla pudding evenly over the chocolate pudding layer.
  • Top with whipped cream and refrigerate a few hours to set up nicely.
  • Garnish with shaved chocolate of your choice before serving.
Carol's notes:
I always use heavy whipping cream and whip all 3 cups needed at one time in a stand mixer.  After  the cream is whipped, it makes a larger amount than needed for the recipe, so I just use it for my coffee, or add a little more to the top layer, but want to be sure I whip up enough.  No sugar is needed in the whipping cream, with the other sweeter layers, it lends the perfect balance.  You can always substitute cool whip, if you'd like, but since it takes literally another few minutes for the real whipped cream - go for it!

When I made Afternoon Delight last weekend, I used vanilla instant pudding, and chocolate cook & serve pudding.  They both set up equally well; however, I did find the cook & serve a bit thicker, and actually think I'll use cook & serve from now on for both the vanilla and chocolate layers.

I like to add my garnish after I cut the slices, so it looks freshly shaved. 

Afternoon Delight keeps nicely for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator, so feel free to create this a day or two in advance.

Recipe adapted from JoCooks.


  1. These bars look incredible, Carol! No matter what you call them, I can see why they leave one speechless. May have to whip up a pan this week :).

    1. Thanks, Laura! Perfect description - speechless! Photos aren't doing it justice, they didn't come out very well! :)

  2. It would NEVER last 3-4 days in MY refrigerator, because it would be gone! You make even the simple classics look elegant and sophisticated. I love your blog my friend!!!

    1. ha-ha! Thanks, Jeannie! They usually wouldn't last that long in my refrigerator either, but I couldn't get good light for the photos, because of 3 days of a cloudy, rainy sky. I kept sneaking bites, that's why I didn't take a photo of them in the baking dish! :) I finally photographed the cut slices on the 4th day (still not good light), then brought them to work. The whipped cream was still holding up really well, as you can see in the photos.

  3. Oh my goodness, I just like thinking about these lovely 5 layer bars and your photos are beautiful;-)

    1. Thanks, Patty!! It's so addicting! One of those desserts that all you need is a fork and the baking dish! :) Thanks for stopping by!!!

  4. Another winner. You sure do a wonderful, creative job.

    1. Thank you, Ladyjj! Mom, you are so funny! You can just be my mother and not disguise yourself! LOL xox

  5. Oh, yeah, I remember this dessert from back in the day! But it never looked as beautiful as yours!!! YUM!

    1. It used to be served at every baby and wedding shower I went to in the 70s and 80s! LOL Thanks for the sweet comment Liz!

  6. Hi Carol! Boy do I remember this dessert! It is so luscious and good. And very aptly named! I love recipes that transport you back in time. And especially as you've described it....a simpler, less complicated time! This post really put a smile on my face! So much so that I'm giving you the peace sign and telling you to 'have a nice day'! (GORGEOUS photos, too!)

    1. You are so sweet, Anne! Thank you so much, and you have a nice day as well!!! xox

  7. Gorgeous! But you are cheating: how come you are using cream cheese and not mascarpone ;-)

  8. Funny, I do remember the first time I was served this dessert and it was called "Sex in a Pan" (80's). The hostess served them in tiny squares, nestled inside candy/mini muffin wrappers.. perfect size. My reaction, "What *was* that?! lol... Amazing. .more like an experience than a food :) Thanks for the memory and handy recipe.

    1. You're very welcome! I love how recipes evoke such fond memories! So happy you stopped by and took the time to write that memorable comment!


Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by a cup of mascarpone, and taking the time to leave a comment! I read, smile, and cherish each and every one of them! xox