When we first heard about this pie, we had the same reaction that most people have. “It’s not made with possum, is it?” We assure you, it’s not (eww). This delicious concoction that should be the official
state dessert of Arkansas goes by other names in the south including Striped Delight, Chocolate Layer Pie and Four Layer Delight. A sandy bottom crust is the base upon which a cream cheesy layer sits. A chocolate pudding layer comes next, followed by a whipped cream topping. No one is really sure where the name comes from, but the best reasoning is that this pie plays possum by pretending to be something else – in this case the whipped cream hiding the chocolate filling.
We have seen lots of variations of this dessert including those made with a graham cracker crust, instant chocolate pudding and Cool Whip for the topping. You can go that route, but we prefer our version with no processed ingredients.
If this pie isn’t a near-religious experience, check out Thorncrown Chapel near Eureka Springs. This stunning architectural masterpiece is comprised of 6,000 square feet of glass and 425 windows. Designed to blend into its surroundings, the chapel has won numerous architectural awards and is a must-see if you are in the Ozarks.
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1 cup flour
- ¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Salt, a pinch
- 3 tablespoon corn starch
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 cups whole or 2% milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Whipped cream
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- Chocolate shavings (optional)
Place all pecans needed for recipe in a skillet on medium heat until they just begin to turn fragrant and brown, about 3 to 5 minutes (watch closely so they don’t burn). Remove from heat and let cool. Divide for each layer and set aside. Line a 9X9 square pan with aluminum foil, making sure the corners are tight.
For the first layer: Combine melted butter, flour and pecans. Spread the dough evenly over the bottom of the foil-lined pan, pressing down with your fingers. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until the dough just begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
For the third layer: While the first layer bakes, in a medium saucepan, add the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and corn starch. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks until broken up, then milk. On medium heat, add milk mixture to dry ingredients, whisking constantly until pudding begins to boil and thicken, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Let cool about 5 minutes. Pour pudding in a shallow bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface so a skin does not form. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
For second layer: In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk. Beat with electric mixture for 2-3 minutes or combined.
To make pie: Spread cream cheese mixture over the dough base. Remove pudding from fridge. Carefully spread pudding over the cream cheese layer. Top with whipped cream, toasted pecans and chocolate shavings if desired. To serve, remove pie from the pan by lifting up by the foil. Transfer to a serving platter.