This started out as kind of a practical joke on my youngest daughter. Whenever she finishes a meal, she always asks if she can have dessert; however, until recently, she pronounced it as “dirt.” “Mommy, can I have dirt?” We tried many times to get her to understand that the word has two syllables, and we would ask her every night if she really wanted “dirt” for her dessert. She continued to say “dirt” anyway.
One random day I recalled that my mom had come home from work many years ago talking about this flower pot dessert someone had brought. She said it really looked like a pot of dirt with an artificial flower in it. It was actually a combination of chocolate pudding and crushed Oreo cookies. I Googled it, and of course, it’s a real thing.
I decided that I would trick Nina by giving her dirt the next time she asked for dirt.
Well, the dirt dessert was such a hit that she actually requested it in lieu of birthday cake for her fourth birthday, and she has asked for dirt many times since.The birthday dirt was a huge hit with the kids and the kids’ moms. It always surprises me a little how much people love this because I think, “It’s just some pudding and Oreos.” Chocolate lovers love their chocolate, though, even if it is not fancy nor complicated.
Dirt is a great summertime dessert because it requires no baking or hot oven, and it is served cold.
Our community garden had a work day this past Saturday, and I brought it to the potluck lunch we had at the end of the workday. I thought it would be fitting for everyone working in the dirt all morning. The kids and several adults really enjoyed it. For the potluck, I made individual dirt cups, and for the birthday cake a couple of years back, I made it in a 9 x 13 pan. There are many different ways to enjoy dirt. 🙂
*This is probably an easy recipe to adjust for allergies also–make the pudding with non-dairy milk, use gluten-free sandwich cookies, use non-dairy whipped topping, etc.
Dirt and Worms
(This recipe could easily be halved if you are serving only a few. With the full recipe, you can make a 9 x 13 pan; I was able to get 18 individual 9 oz. cups most recently.)
- Oreo or other chocolate sandwich cookies (at least one regular size package, depending on how you assemble your dirt)
- 2 regular-size boxes of chocolate pudding, regular or sugar-free
- 4 cups milk (skim, 1%, 2%, whole–whatever your preference)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (lower fat is fine)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 8 ounces whipped topping (store bought or freshly whipped from heavy whipping cream)
- Gummy worms, chocolate rocks, artificial flowers, or other appropriate decorations
*Many people make this dessert without the cream cheese filling, using only the whipped topping. I am sure either way is fine, but I did have one adult comment this past weekend that she really liked the extra flavor of the cream cheese in the pudding.
- Crush the cookies into fine crumbs using a food processor or a zip top bag and a rolling pin or small hammer.
- In a large bowl, whisk the pudding mix and the milk together until smooth. Let sit for several minutes to thicken.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well-mixed and smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar. Increase the speed to medium and beat until you have a smooth, fluffy filling. (At first I thought the butter seemed like a weird ingredient and I was just going to leave it out, and then I realized that cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar are the three main ingredients in cream cheese frosting, so I went ahead with it.)
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the cream cheese mixture into the pudding and then fold in the whipped topping. Keep folding until the ingredients are fully combined and no white streaks remain. (You can also add some of your cookie crumbs to the pudding mixture if you want your dirt to have some texture or just leave it smooth.)
- Assemble the dessert as you wish with alternating layers of pudding and cookie crumbs. Begin and end with cookie crumbs. I have made this in a 9 x 13 pan as a birthday cake, in individual clear cups, in regular kids’ plastic cups, and in a trifle bowl. Some people like to serve it in a flower pot with an artificial flower or in a sand pail with a shovel. The choice is yours.
- Refrigerate the dirt for several hours to let it set up and then, just before serving, decorate with gummy worms, chocolate rocks, or other appropriate garnishments.