Being the oldest of four kids, I had a lot of responsibility growing up. Babysitting my younger siblings, taking them to soccer practice, helping with chores and making dinner. I am sure my younger siblings got tired of me, especially during the long, hot summer months, when we were bottled up in the house together. To keep the peace, I always tried to come up with fun activities for us to do. There were even a few summers that we had ‘summer camp’ at home! I loved picking out activities and creating theme days for our little summer camp. From reading books to playing games, making crafts and creating yummy snacks and kids desserts! We had a ball at our “homemade” summer camp… or at least I thought we did!
Of course I loved all the activities we did, because, well, they are some of MY favorite things! But the crafts and kid friendly recipes we made still live on as vivid memories. A few of the things we ‘concocted’ in our summer camp were simple ice cream cakes and ‘dirt’ pudding, complete with gummy worms and all!
As this summer quickly comes to an end, I have hung onto every hot, humid moment. Savoring every detail of the present, as I reminisce about summers long ago. The last few weeks have consisted of squeezing in last minute summer activities, all while planning ahead for back to school and the fall. Since dirt pudding remains one of our favorite treats, I thought it would be fun to whip up a new version to help us celebrate the last few days of summer!
Our dirt pudding from our summer camp days was simple and consisted of three main ingredients: Cool Whip, JELL-O Pudding and gummy worms. While I knew I wanted to create a new version of dirt pudding, I still wanted to have some of those classic features and flavors. To make sure my dirt pudding was a success, I grabbed a $1.00 off coupon (available while supplies last) and headed to Walmart to get everything I needed.
As for my new, improved dirt cake? Well… as a tribute to my Texas upbringing and those long hot Texas summers, a Texas Dirt Cake was a no brainer! I used crushed peanut butter cookies and created a peanut butter pudding cake to represent Texas dirt. I then stuck it in the freezer to have a nice frozen treat to help beat the hot Texas heat. To finish it all off, I topped my Texas Dirt Cake, not with gummy worms, but with gummy rattlesnakes, of course! Not only is this is a fun treat that kids will love to make on a hot summer day or as a ‘cool’ after school snack; but it is a delicious dessert that adults will love too!
25-28 peanut butter sandwich cookies, divided
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
1 ¾ cups milk, divided
1 (3.4 ounce) box Jell-O Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed
Gummy Rattlesnake Candies (optional), for serving
Place approximately 15-18 peanut butter sandwich cookies in a large plastic food storage bag. Seal bag and use a rolling pin to finely crush cookies. Alternatively, cookies can be crushed in a food processor. Place crushed cookies in a bowl and mix with melted butter. Press cookies into the bottom of a 9-inch round spring form pan to form crust. Place pan in freezer to allow crust to firm up.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. Slowly beat in powdered sugar and ¼ cup milk, mixing until fully combined. Beat in peanut butter and mix to combine. Carefully fold whipped topping into peanut butter mixture. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, stir together pudding mix with remaining 1 ½ cups milk. Set aside for 1-2 minutes to thicken. Once thickened, slowly fold peanut butter mixture into pudding. Once fully incorporated, pour cake filling over frozen cookie crust.
Place remaining peanut butter cookies in a large plastic food storage bag. Seal bag and use a rolling pin to coarsely crush cookies, leaving several large pieces. Sprinkle crushed cookies on top of cake. Cover with foil and freeze for 6-8 hours or over night.
To serve, remove cake from spring form pan. Top cake with gummy snakes and let cake sit at room temperature for 10-12 minutes before cutting. Store leftovers in the freezer.
NOTE: A 9×9-inch square pan or deep dish pie plate can be used in place of the spring form pan.