Gluten Free Better Than Robert Redford is a throwback from the 70’s. It’s a chocolate pudding layered dessert that’s rich and creamy, but so easy to make.
This dessert brings back so many memories for me. My mom has been making it for as long as I can remember. Her version was always called Better than Robert Redford. That name right there tells you that this is an old recipe because you probably have no idea who Robert Redford is. In fact, when I brought some to my hairstylist the other day, she said “who is Robert Redford?” Haha!
What is Gluten Free Better Than Robert Redford?
Better Than Sex. Chocolate Lush. The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford. Better Than Anything. This wonderful dessert has been called many names over the years. We’ve always called it Better Than Robert Redford. Whatever you call it, it’s so easy to make and tastes like a million bucks! It’s crazy because it seemed that every single time my mom made, so many people would ask for the recipe. When people find out that it really is so easy to make, they can’t believe it.
First things first, though. If you don’t know who Robert Redford is, you definitely are younger than me, haha! Robert Redford is an American actor who has been in many movies throughout his long career. When he was in his prime, apparently he was really handsome. If you’re a Marvel fan like I am, you’ll know him as Alexander Pierce from The Winter Soldier and Endgame. He’s the jerk who Nick Fury ends up killing. Anyway, I thought to rename this dessert to something that was more relevant to now. Robert Pattinson (to keep with the Robert theme)? George Clooney? Brad Pitt? I don’t even know anymore who is a sex symbol these days. Haha!
Regardless of the sex symbol name behind the dessert, it starts with a simple enough pecan shortbread-like crust. It’s one of my favorite crusts of all time. The next layer combines cream cheese with sugar and that 70’s favorite, Cool Whip. Not freshly whipped cream. Next comes a simple layer of chocolate pudding, made with another 70’s favorite, boxed pudding mix. Finally, the top layer is the rest of the tub of Cool Whip with some finely chopped pecans sprinkled on top. That is it!!! It’s that simple, but everyone goes crazy over it!
Preparing the Crust
Like I said above, this crust is one of my favorite crusts of all time. And believe it or not, there’s no sugar in it! It’s made with three simple ingredients: finely chopped pecans, flour, and melted butter. The flour is what makes this not normally gluten free. So I simply substituted the flour with my all purpose blend and it worked great!
I didn’t get a chance to ask my mom whether the crust was mixed by hand or with a mixer. I’m pretty sure no stand mixers were available for home use at that time. So I simply used a spoon and combined the three ingredients until a soft dough formed. Press it into the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Refrigerate the crust until cooled.
The Cream Cheese Layer
Now it’s gonna get a little complicated. Mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add one cup of the Cool Whip and continue mixing until well incorporated. Spread over the cooled crust.
The Pudding Layer
I’ve seen this dessert made with a layer each of chocolate and vanilla pudding, but my mom always made just chocolate so why mess with perfection? In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the dry chocolate pudding mix and the cold milk until smooth. It will set up after just a few minutes of mixing. Pour this over the cream cheese layer and spread to the edges.
The Most Complicated Fourth Layer
We’ve finally reached the fourth layer and you must be exhausted, haha! It goes like this: dollop the rest of the Cool Whip over the chocolate pudding and spread it to the edges. Sprinkle with the rest of the chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate. Whew! That was grueling!! Actually, the most grueling part is waiting for it to set up, which takes about 2-3 hours.
Call it what you want, just make this Gluten Free Better Than Robert Redford! Even if you don’t know who he is, once you taste it, you’ll say it’s better than him and anyone else, haha!
Gluten Free Better Than Robert Redford
- 1½ sticks (¾ cup or 169 g) butter, melted
- 1½ cups (210 g) Kim's gluten free flour blend (a store bought blend may be used, but hasn't been tested)
- 1½ cups (150 g) finely chopped pecans
- 2 3.4 oz boxes (96 g each) instant chocolate pudding mix
- 3½ cups (840 ml) cold milk
- 8 oz (226 g) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup (225 g) powdered sugar
- 12 ounces (1½ small containers or 339 g) Cool Whip, thawed
- Set aside a tablespoon or so of the chopped pecans for the topping. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Mix the melted butter and flour in a medium bowl. Add the chopped pecans and press into a 9 by 13-inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Refrigerate until cool.
- Beat softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Add one cup of Cool Whip and beat until well incorporated. Spread over cooled crust.
- In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the pudding mix and cold milk until it begins to thicken, a few minutes. Spread on top of cream cheese layer.
- Carefully dollop the rest of the Cool Whip over top of the pudding mixture and smooth to the edges. Sprinkle with the rest of the chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate until set, 2-3 hours.
- "Robert Redford" will last in the fridge for 3-4 days, but the chocolate will begin to bleed into the Cool Whip the longer it sits.