Today’s post is about the ever-popular dish, DIRT, or “dirt dessert.” Now, as good as this stuff is, I think they could have named it better. At the very least, it should have been called, “Premium Potting Soil,” or something less generic. Anyway, name aside, it’s a treat for the old and young alike.

The last time I was looking for something different that we hadn’t had in ages, I went searching for dirt recipes. I’m not going to repeat the recipe I used because it’s literally ALL OVER the Internet, but I found it on AllRecipes if you want to get yours there, too. However, I WILL say that I used the one that calls for less butter – not that I’m not totally gaga over butter, but when you’re throwing all of those fattening ingredients together, the way I see it, if you can save fat and calories without ruining the taste, then it’s a no-brainer. So, try to pick a recipe that calls for ¼ cup of butter instead of ½ cup. Also, I like to use the “extra creamy” Cool Whip since it has real cream in it.

I’m going to detour here a bit and have a little rant. I’ll be honest with you – I’m suspicious of Cool Whip; it gives me the willies and defies all logic. How can something that looks like whipped cream, and tastes, um…creamy…NOT be a dairy product? It’s like the blurb on the back of a powdered, non-dairy coffee creamer that exclaims, “IT WHIPS!” How can it whip when there’s no freakin’ cream in it? It’s unnatural! Cool Whip is basically HYDROGENATED oil (you know, the BAD oil) with a ton of emulsifiers holding it in a perpetual state of fluff to keep it from melting back into the oil that it is. If you put a bowl of real whipped cream on your counter and left it there, it would gradually “deflate” and melt back into a liquid. If you put a tub of Cool Whip on your counter and left it there, it would look unchanged – THAT’S not natural. Anyway, this is precisely the reason that I go for the “extra creamy” Cool Whip – it may not be all cream, but at least a little cream means less oil. If there were a way to substitute REAL whipped cream for Cool Whip in this recipe and every other recipe that calls for it, I’d be right there, but real cream (much as I love it) just won’t hold-up in recipes like Franken-cream will.

Another slight detour…. I saw a “Good Eats” episode about making your own mayonnaise. Alton Brown explained that the idea behind making mayonnaise is to create a stable EMULSION of oil, egg yolk and vinegar. There’s a science to it, but in lay terms, an emulsion is created when you mix two or more ingredients that wouldn’t ordinarily mix (like oil and a water-based liquid). He stressed in this episode that you can pick the type of oil that you’d like to use in your mayonnaise (like olive oil, which is a healthy oil). As I’m writing this, I’m wondering if you couldn’t do the same with extra-virgin coconut oil, pasteurized egg yolk and cream to make a healthier version of Cool Whip. Hm…something to experiment with when the kids are back in school, I think. Okay, I now continue my regularly scheduled blog post….

As I was shopping for the ingredients, it struck me how Nabisco’s really expanded the Oreo line of cookies. There are so many different varieties on that shelf. I mean, literally, there’s the regular kind that I grew up with. Then, there’s double-stuffed…and “fudgies”…and chocolate with mint filling, chocolate with peanut butter filling, golden with white filling, golden with chocolate filling and chocolate with chocolate filling. Same goes for pudding, although to a lesser extent; there’s vanilla, chocolate, banana cream and every now and again, I’ll see cheesecake flavored.

It got me thinking how you could make the dirt recipe in a number of varieties, switching different flavored cookies with different flavored pudding mixes. So, for the purposes of this post, I experimented. I decided to make an all-vanilla dirt (“sand,” I think they call it), an all-chocolate dirt, and a Nanna-Nutter dirt with banana cream pudding and Nutter Butter cookies.

They all tasted good. People who are partial to chocolate would like the all-chocolate, and the same goes for the all-vanilla; there was no real surprise in either regard. The BIG surprise, however, was the other kind I made. I’m not much of a peanut butter person (although I do get cravings every now and again), but the dirt recipe made with banana cream pudding and crushed Nutter Butter cookies was VERY tasty. So, if you’re looking for something different….

It’ll be a while before I make it again, ’cause we need time to get that Cool Whip out of our systems ;-) But when I do make it again, I’ll try Nilla Wafers with banana cream pudding. I’d like to be able to add real bananas to the creamy part of the recipe, but you know they’ll just turn brown (and I don’t want to soak them in anything acidic since it’s a recipe with dairy in it). Even if they don’t turn brown, bananas get kind of mealy and mushy after they’re sliced, which is VERY unappealing. Instead, I’ll plan on having fresh bananas handy so that I can put slivers on top of the dirt as it’s served. How’s THAT for creative? Now, if I could just think of some catchy names for these variations….

Whatever combination you make…enjoy!

Pictured, left to right: All Chocolate; All Vanilla; NannaNutter

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