Serious Eats: Sweets
Mixed Review: Jell-O No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Dessert
Ever wonder about a mix you've seen in the store? Is it any good? Could it replace something you'd otherwise make from scratch? Welcome to Mixed Review, where the whole point is putting mixes to the test! —The Mgmt.
Thick, creamy peanut butter mousse sandwiched between an Oreo cookie crust and a hard chocolate shell? A prep time of only fifteen minutes? Jell-O's No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Dessert mix ($3.29) sounded almost too good to be true.
While it's true that I didn't have to bake anything, I actually found this mix a bit more difficult to prepare than the packaging implies. For starters, there are four separate pouches within the box: crust mix, filling mix, peanut butter, and the chocolate shell topping. Before I did anything else, I had to submerge the topping pouch in boiling water so that the contents melt. Then I combined the crust mix (basically just Oreo cookie crumbs) with four tablespoons of melted butter and pressed it in the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan.
The filling mix and the peanut butter are beaten with 1 1/3 cups of milk for no fewer than three minutes and 30 seconds, until the mixture is thick and creamy and about the consistency of Cool Whip. This is spread in the pan over the crust. Then, you must vigorously shake the topping pouch to ensure that everything is melted and smooth. The last step is to pour the topping over the peanut butter mousse and tilt the pan so that everything is coated evenly. Into the fridge it goes for at least one hour, until the dessert is chilled and set. Whew.
Removing pieces of the dessert from the pan was no small task either. The box suggested dipping the pan in hot water for 30 seconds to help release the sides and crust. It worked, sort of. The chocolate topping began to melt around the edges and the crust was extremely crumbly. It was nearly impossible to cut clean, even bars--mine ended up looking like haphazardly-shaped blobs.
What I enjoyed most about this mix was the intensely rich peanut butter mousse, which had a delightfully creamy, almost pudding-like texture. It's so flavorful and thick that a little goes a long way. Jell-O could easily forget about the crust and topping and just sell the filling mix on its own. In truth, it kind of eclipsed the Oreo flavor (there weren't enough crumbs to make a substantial crust) and the chocolate topping was a bit flimsy.
This is definitely a fork or spoon dessert, as opposed to one you would eat with your fingers. While I found it to be a bit more trouble than what it was worth, I have no doubt that it would be a huge hit with kids and peanut butter fanatics. If I prepare it again, I might skip attempting to cut individual pieces and just have at it, straight from the pan.