I don't know about you, but I'm convinced that birthday desserts are some of the best (if not the best) desserts ever. Maybe it's because the Chosen Dessert is one of your favorites. Maybe it's because everything is more magical on your birthday to begin with. Maybe it's because desserts are just so goddamn delicious as is.
Whatever the reason, birthday desserts deserve their own sharing.
Every year it is safe to assume that I have the Chosen Dessert planned out at least a month in advance. I can never tell you what I want to do for my birthday, even in the days leading up to it, but the Chosen Dessert is planned.
This year however, I couldn't decide. Since I was hitting a new decade I've been wanting to do everything a bit more bolder and over the top than usual. There's quite a few desserts I tend to rotate out for my birthday, depending on my taste preference or how long it's been since I have a particular one. With hitting the new decade I figured I'd abolish doing any of my usual ones and do something completely different. But I was stumped.
My youngest brother came to the rescue, surprisingly or unsurprisingly. He started up the conversation asking what I was going to do for my birthday. Eventually I told him my predicament/scenario and he suggested dirt cake. Admittedly I was in a shocked pause for a few seconds. It was something I hadn't had in forever, or many times to begin with, but I remembered how much I did enjoy them. And it was definitely different.
Since I still have multiple foods that don't agree well with me, I started the tedious search of figuring out how to replace things to make it digestive and gut friendly for me. It took a while but I finally found the most worthy substitutes I could come across without spending a boatload of money. And during the search someone had even suggested switching out chocolate oreos and chocolate pudding for vanilla to make it Sand Cake (delicious food AND sea/beach-themed?! yes please!).
So a few days before my birthday I picked up the supplies. One of the requisite ingredients, of course, is gummy worms (or fish, or bears, or whatever). My boyfriend went with me and ended up getting his own small bag of gummy bears too. He opened up his bag on the car ride back and we chomped down on a few of them. I only had a few, no more than 6 or 7, but I had the most intense and worst headache quickly afterwards that affected areas I never knew could hurt in those ways.
Being pretty knocked out the rest of the night and a bit out of it the next morning, I looked at the other ingredients and realized there was absolutely no way I was going to make it more than a bit or two in. And what fun and joy is there in having a birthday dessert if you can't even enjoy it?!
As enticing and delicious as it sounded, I scraped that idea. At this point I was pretty stuck on the pudding and crackers part, but was starting to crave chocolate. After lamenting to my mom and boyfriend about it, my mom finally suggested why not just make Mock Chocolate Eclairs? Granted it was one of my rotational staples, but when I thought about it I realized I could also modify that to be better on my stomach, fulfill my all-of-a-sudden specific cravings, and it had actually been at least 3 years since I last had it.
That was set. Luckily the recipe is simple and easy. The only hard part is letting it sit and set before digging in. Making it the night before definitely helps, though waiting till later in the day on my birthday was a bit torturous -- I know, I know. It's my birthday so I can eat it anytime I want, but I have a weird thing about eating sweets before late afternoon or evening.
Like I said, the hardest part was letting it sit. Once you make and taste this for yourself the first time, you'll see why subsequent makings are torturous in waiting. It may not be the prettiest looking dessert, but I'm a firm believer that a lot of times the best foods are the messiest foods.
4 boxes of gluten-free graham crackers (I used Kinnikinnick)
2 boxes Organics vanilla pudding
4 & 1/2 cups total of non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened vanilla)
1 - 9 oz. tub of Cocowhip
2 bags of dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Sprinkle of sea salt (optional)
Mix pudding according to directions. Let cool. Depending on how warm your kitchen is and where you stored the Cocowhip, take it out to start the defrosting.
While the pudding is cooling, make the frosting:
In a small saucepan mix together the chocolate chips, milk, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. You can add a sprinkle of sea salt if you'd like. Stir until melted and completely smooth.
Let the pan cool for about 15 minutes or until it's cool enough to put in the refrigerator. When the pan is in the refrigerator, keep it in there for about 20-25 minutes, stirring after every 5 minutes.
Stir softened (slightly room temp) Cocowhip into the pudding.
Line bottom of a 9x13 pan completely with a single layer of crackers.
Put ½ pudding mix on crackers – add another layer of crackers – rest of pudding - finish with another layer of crackers
Top with frosting and chill overnight ideally, otherwise at least a few hours.
NOTE: It gets addicting. Fast. Also, due to coconut oil having a hardened state when it's cold, the frosting does get stiff like bark or fudge as you can see in the picture. You can have it sit out for a while to let it soften up a smidge to make it easier to cut into, or if you're like me and too impatient to wait, I find inserting a fork perpendicular into the frosting helps break it easier and cleaner without creating an avalanche of the cracker-pudding mixture underneath. :)