This popular Southern pie features a crunchy pecan shortbread crust, a sweet & tangy cheesecake layer, decadent chocolate pudding, and whipped topping.
Were you wondering what the most popular dessert in Arkansas is? I thought so!
Well, it’s called Possum Pie and if you haven’t tried it yet, you’re going to regret that you’ve been missing out this long!
It is a decadent chilled pie that’s made up of three delicious layers – cream cheese, chocolate pudding, and whipped topping. Those layers are nestled inside a homemade pecan shortbread crust.
Perhaps you’ve had it before but it was called another name? It’s also known as Chocolate Layer Pie, Impossible Pie, Chocolate Lush, and Four Layer Delight. Whoa, that’s a lot of AKAs!
Regardless of what you call it, it’s delicious! And once you see how easy it is to make despite having multiple layers, you’ll understand why it’s so popular.
It’s perfect to take to potlucks and dinner parties. You could even sell whole pies or slices at a bake sale. It is one of the most sold desserts in Arkansas cafes after all.
- Flour – We’ll be using all-purpose flour in this pie.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter.
- Sugar – Granulated and powdered sugar.
- Cream Cheese – Needs to be at room temperature to avoid lumps.
- Heavy Cream – Should be chilled. Do not substitute.
- Vanilla – I use clear vanilla flavoring in the cream cheese layer and traditional vanilla extract in the chocolate pudding layer.
- Cocoa Powder – Any cocoa powder works fine. Use a dark chocolate powder for a darker, bittersweet pudding.
- Cornstarch – This is the thickening agent in the pudding layer.
- Salt – Standard table salt was used to develop this recipe.
- Egg Yolks -We’ll only need the yolks for this recipe. Save your whites for scrambled eggs or another use.
- Whole Milk – I don’t recommend substituting this.
- Pecans – Purchase pecan halves, them chop them. For best flavor, toast them first.
- Cool Whip – Don’t forget to move this to the fridge the night before so it has time to thaw.
- Chocolate Shavings – To make the chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler and a high-quality chocolate bar.
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How To Make
Coat a pie pan with non-stick spray. Combine the flour, pecans, butter, and sugar.
Press into the pie plate to form the crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it begins to brown around the edges. Let it cool completely.
Cream Cheese Layer
Add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat until well-combined and lump free.
Spread evenly over the bottom of the crust, then refrigerate while making the next layer.
Chocolate Pudding Layer
Add the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt together in a saucepan and stir to combine.
Beat the egg yolks and milk together in a separate dish, then whisk into the sugar/cocoa mixture.
Cook over medium heat, whisking often until the pudding begins to thicken and bubble (7-10 minutes). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.
Set saucepan aside and let it cool completely before spreading it on top of the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 1 hour.
After the pudding layer has chilled 1 hour, gently spread the Cool Whip over the pudding layer.
Add the chopped pecans and chocolate shavings.
Refrigerate until time to serve.
- Want to make an easier version of this pie? Swap the homemade crust for a store-bought graham cracker one and boxed pudding mix in place of the from scratch version.
- For best flavor, toast your pecans on a baking sheet in the oven at 350F for 7-10 minutes.
- Don’t be afraid to try variations, like making an Oreo or Ritz cracker crust or even adding a peanut butter mousse layer.
Wrap any leftovers of this pie in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and store in the fridge up to 4 days.
No, despite the cheeky name there is no possum in this pie.
There are a few different rumored ways this southern dessert got its name. Some say because the pie has the same colors as the marsupial.
Others think of the popular southern expression “playing possum”, which means something is pretending to be something it is not. (Like when a possum plays dead to ward off prey.)
They say this pie is playing possum because the whipped topping layer conceals the other layers beneath until you cut into the pie, leaving the decadent layered filling a surprise.
I don’t recommend freezing this pie because of the cream cheese layer. Cream cheese can change texture to a less desirable state when frozen.
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Cream Cheese Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounce container cool whip
1 tablespoon chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chocolate shavings
Heat the oven to 350° and spray a pie pan with cooking spray.
Combine the flour, pecans, melted butter, and sugar, then press into the pie pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust begins to brown around the edges. Remove and cool completely.
Cream Cheese Layer
Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla together in a large bowl.
Spread evenly over the bottom of the cooled crust.
Refrigerate while you make the pudding layer.
Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt together in a sauce pan.
Beat the egg yolks and milk together in a dish, then whisk into the sugar mixture.
Cook over medium heat, whisking often until the pudding begins to thicken and bubble – about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Cool completely, then spread over the cream cheese layer and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Spread the cool whip over the pudding, then top with chopped pecans and grated chocolate.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.