The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford

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The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford

The first time that my husband spent Thanksgiving with my family we were all gathered around the dessert table after dinner and my Aunt pulled out a pan of a layered pudding dessert. My husband exclaimed, “The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford! This was my favorite growing up!” We all started laughing because we only knew it as the layered pudding dessert. Not to mention that it was especially funny coming from my husband. A quick search on Google, however, revealed that my husband wasn’t nuts. There is actually a dessert with this name.

So here it is. The recipe that my husband grew up on. This rich, creamy and chocolaty dessert definitely isn’t for the weak. A little bit of the buttery cookie crust topped with vanilla-chocolate pudding and whipped cream goes a long way. The dessert is a crowd-pleaser and it’s simple to make, so it’s great for parties. The original recipe calls for frozen whipped topping but I couldn’t resist using homemade whipped cream.

4.7 from 51 reviews
The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24-32
This rich, creamy and chocolaty dessert definitely isn't for the weak. A little bit of the buttery cookie crust topped with vanilla-chocolate pudding and whipped cream goes a long way.
Bottom Layer
  • 1 cup unsifted flour
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Middle Layer
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4½ ounces homemade whipped cream
Top Layer
  • 1 large package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 large package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3 cups cold milk
Garnish layer
  • Roughly 4½ ounces homemade whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings
Bottom Layer
  1. Mix together the flour, butter and chopped nuts until the dough is crumble-like.
  2. Press the mixture into a greased 9x13-inch pan.
  3. Bake the cookie crust at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  4. Let the cookie crust cool.
Middle Layer
  1. Beat the sugar into the cream cheese until it is smooth.
  2. Fold in the whipped cream.
  3. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust.
Top Layer
  1. Beat the milk into the pudding mixes until the mixture is smooth and thickened.
  2. Spread the pudding over the middle layer.
Garnish Layer
  1. Spread whipped cream over the top.
  2. Sprinkle the the dessert with grated chocolate candy bar, such as Baker's Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Shavings.
  3. Cover the layered dessert and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it.

The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford

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156 Responses to “The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford”

  1. Marybeth says:

    This has been around since I can remember at least 35 or more years. We have always called it Better than Sex Dessert. It is absolutly Yummy!

  2. Jodi says:

    My Grandma used to make this, and we called it Yum Yum Cake…. Now, when I make it, I use an Oreo crust… and it’s even yummier!!!

  3. Angela says:

    My mom has made this for years and we call it Piggy Pudding!!

  4. Terrie says:

    Can I use sugar free pudding and sugar free cool whip

  5. Terrie says:

    Can I use sugar free pudding along with sugar free cool whip

  6. Elizabeth says:

    This is my favorite! If you like a thicker crust… then do 1 1/2 cubes of butter and 1 1/2 cups flour + pinch of salt and the nuts. MAKE SURE you MELT the butter before you add the flour and nuts(chopped fine)!!!!! Spread evenly in a 9×13 pan and bake for 20-30 min. at 350 degrees or till lightly brown on edges! I do this the night before so that it will for sure be cooled! Everything else is the same except I like to grate a Symphony bar with almond and toffee pieces because it just adds that little bit of flavor! Oh, I also like to use powdered sugar in with the cream cheese rather than regular sugar because it melts faster (1 cup of powdered sugar)+ whip cream/cool whip. I also like a thicker whip cream on top so I spread it thick – full 8 oz. before whipping! I guess I changed this quite a bit– try it both ways! Cool whip is fine, but I like real whip cream too!

  7. Pat says:

    WOW…I’ve always known this dessert as “Sex in a Pan”! Too wonderful for words!!!

  8. Laurajean says:

    I’m from NC and my Mawmaw has been making this for as long as I can remember. She calls it “Barbara Mandrell’s Surprise” lol I have absolutely no idea what that means or why that’s the name for it lol. Funny story behind this deeeeelish dessert and my grandma..I remember being around 8 or 9 yrs old (I’m 27 meow) and we were going to an evening church event at this lil Baptist church maybe with all of 15-20 people there lil old ladies and whatnots..well she asked me to carry the dessert in and it was too big and heavy for me and sure enough right there in the parking lot I dropped the entire dish on the ground…I immediately wanted to cry but mawmaw said “hushhh right now and hold this dish” and I swear to you to this day she scooped that ishh back into the dish and took it right on in there and served it up in the fellowship hall and told me to keep my mouth shut. So funny. I ate some that night too of course, id never pass up on this dish for any crazy reason lol

  9. Louanne says:

    WV girls call this Chocolate Lush:)

  10. kelsey says:

    Terrie, yes you can use the sugar-free versions.

  11. Sandyrze says:

    I have made this many times with a little variation. I use premade graham cracker crust. For the first layer, instead of sugar, I use powdered sugar. i only use Chocolate pudding. we called it “better than sex” pie

  12. Becky says:

    Love this dessert. We call it sex in a pan as well and have seen variations of it with a graham cracker crumb crust (graham cracker crumb, butter, sugar)

  13. Sarah Chastain says:

    You can use any flavor of pudding. I made it
    at Thanksgiving with pumpkin spice pudding. It’s also good with butterscotch or lemon. I used crushed ginger snaps with butter for my crust with the pumpkin spice. It was good but was very hard thus difficult to eat.

  14. ann says:

    having making this dessert for years,but instead of the pudding I use lemon pie filling,it is delish.

  15. Courtney says:

    This is Mississippi Mud Pie to me. It’s delicious!

  16. kooziefloozie says:

    my mother in law used to make this and it truly is to die for…..makes me want some just thinking about it.

  17. Charlene says:

    Found out at Thanksgiving that if you toast the pecans and the mix the base and Pre-bake IT then its much better.

  18. Stacy says:

    Add peanut butter to the middle layer and it is perfect!

  19. Wanda says:

    Amazing all the different names this wonderful concoction goes by. I’ve always known it as “Charlie Brown”. It was stored in the freezer and thawed slightly before serving.

  20. Jodi says:

    This is just like a recipe that I grew up with, but the name we had for it was “Better then Sex” cake.

  21. Carola says:

    I make this every Christmas and we call it “Sex in a Pan”. It’s thats good.

  22. Jackie says:

    I always use crushed pecan sandies for the crust, perfect every time!

  23. Trista says:

    OMG… I’ve been looking for this ever since my ex and I divorced! His mother made it ALL the time and I had lost the recipe over the years! I’m sooooo excited to make this once again 🙂

  24. Trista says:

    My mother in law called it 7 layer cake (Though I always wondered where she got that from cause I don’t believe it has 7 layers??)

  25. Nancy says:

    Can I use 2 boxes of choc pudding instead on 1 choc & 1 van?

  26. BGonella says:

    We call this TEXAS MUD !! Yum !! My friend makes this w/ Banana pudding. She put one layer of bananas between the top two layers. I don’t know which version I like more…just delicious !!

  27. MaryAnn says:

    Does this do well made and refrigerated the day before?? Don’t want it soggy. I saw the freezer idea and thought I would do that maybe. THANK YOU!!

  28. kelsey says:

    Yes, Nancy, you can use any flavor combos of pudding that you would like!

  29. kelsey says:

    MaryAnn, Yes this works well made the day before. And any leftovers keep well when refrigerated, too.

  30. Allison says:

    What can I substitute for the nuts in the bottom layer? I see where some people have used graham crackers. what about crushed Oreos?

  31. kelsey says:

    Yes, an Oreo crust would be great…graham crackers, Nilla wafers, any other crumbled cookie. The original crust is essentially a bar cookie (like a pecan sandie or russian teacake) so you could also make any variation of bar cookie and then layer the puddings on top.

  32. Doris Fuller says:

    So surprised to see so many names for this dessert. It has also been my family’s favorite dessert for YEARS and we called it triple treat pie. we use a pie crust base and add a bit of cocoa to the top layer, top with chocolate sprinkles. we always use the cook type chocolate and vanilla pudding.

  33. Rifi says:

    Any substitute for the puddin mix. We don’t get it where I live

  34. Goldie Sanders says:

    I have made something similar using only vanilla puddding and coconut. I toast coconut for the top. Also have used bananas with dried banana chips on the top.

  35. Sharon S. says:

    A friend gave me a very similar recipe about 20 years ago. The first time I had it, she used pistachio pudding. I’ve tried to use chocolate, but my family only wants it with pistachio. My friend’s name for this? “I’ll Make It and You’ll Come Running.” Perfect name!

  36. Yvonne Freeth says:

    I have made this receipt for many years but its call Mississippi Mud Pie. If I’m in i a hurry I use the pre made graham cracker 9 inch pie crust.

  37. Leslie Springer says:

    Received this recipe over 24 years ago. The name on the recipe card is “Sex In the Pan”!!!

    I make it ever July 4th!!!

  38. Emily says:

    We called it “Something Good” growing up…..my husband/then boyfriend was eating dinner with us and he called it “better than sex” to my mom!!! Talk about embarrassing ….. We still laugh about it today, and we ALL love this dessert!

  39. Have made it with lemon instant pudding and also with coconut instant pudding. I like it better with those then chocolate.

  40. sherry says:

    I grew up with this pie as sex in a pan also the first time I took it to our church pot luck the women quickly changed the name to sin pie.

  41. ann says:

    I use lemon pie filling instead of pudding it is so delish

  42. Annie says:

    I made this yesterday but my cheese layer dint set well it was all runny , i used puk cream cheese, it ws flowing out, even i tried to cool every layer before putting other one, plz help me out

  43. kelsey says:

    Annie, if your bottom cookie layer was cooled I’m not sure what else would be the issue. Soft cream cheese would still be fairly thick, so unless maybe your whipped cream was too runny? Did it set up after being refrigerated?

  44. Haley J. says:

    The Barbara Mandrell thing is legit! What’s basically this recipe was printed in newspapers as “Barbara Mandrell’s 4-Layer Dessert.” I have the clipping my my grandma cut out and used when she made this! It’s so delicious. I rather prefer “The Next Best Thing To Robert Redford,” though. 😉

  45. courtney says:

    I have always known this to be called 4 layer delight. I have made this with an oreo crust and a brownie crust. All are yummy! 🙂

  46. kelsey says:

    Courtney, I bet the Oreo and brownie crust are rich and delicious. I will have to try that sometime! Happy New Year!

  47. Susan says:

    We call it Mississippi Mud Cake and it, too, is my go to dessert!

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