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When I first heard about “sex in a pan dessert”, I thought the name was some kind of joke. Was this really a thing? Apparently, it’s been around for years, under many different names. I’m not really sure what the origin is.
Intrigued by all the flavors in a chocolate layer dessert, I set out to find how to make sex in a pan my way. Of course, that meant low carb, gluten-free, and
Layers in Sex in a Pan Dessert
Traditionally, sex in a pan dessert contains six layers. These include:
- Pecan shortbread crust
- Cream cheese
- Vanilla pudding
- Chocolate pudding
- Whipped cream
- Shaved chocolate
All the versions that I know of are made with sugar and wheat flour. In fact, a couple of the layers usually include instant pudding. For me, these would be no, no, and definitely not.
I knew there was a way to make it better and low carb – without sacrificing the sinfully delicious taste and texture.
My take on chocolate layer dessert isn’t exactly healthy, but at least it is gluten-free, sugar-free, and made without questionable ingredients.
It does include similar basic layers:
- Pecan shortbread crust
- Cream cheese
- Whipped cream
- Shaved chocolate
Okay, it’s not quite identical. (Maybe I should call it gluten-free chocolate lasagna instead?) But, it’s close enough that I’m still declaring it sex in a pan. 😉
Best of all, none of my extended family could tell the difference when I served it. Yay! (Yes, I served a dessert called “sex in a pan” for family. I’ll get to how that went in a minute.)
A (Healthier) Easy Sex in a Pan Recipe
An easy sex in a pan recipe is a challenge when you are trying to keep it to real food ingredients and somewhat healthy. I’m not going to lie, it’s definitely calorie dense and on the heavier side. But, at least there are no artificial ingredients. And, it’s still pretty simple to make – no processed pudding mix required!
The other aspect I struggled with was keeping the sex in a pan recipe under ten ingredients total. After all, “ten ingredients or less” is my thing. Definitely not easy with a six layer dessert!
Fortunately, I was able to repeat many of the ingredients among the different layers, so it worked out. It actually came out to nine ingredients, although my original version had ten.
I skipped the vanilla pudding layer, because patience isn’t my strong suit. Waiting for each layer to set already took long enough with five layers! It’s totally worth it though, I promise.
Anyway, the other layers are so decadent that I don’t think you’ll miss the one I omitted. If you really like vanilla pudding, feel free to add a layer of your favorite kind before the chocolate layer.
In fact, I was so determined to make this low carb dessert a little faster than traditional sex in a pan recipes, that I decided to modify the chocolate layer from the original. (I’m pretty sure that most of us don’t want to spend hours upon hours making our low carb or no carb desserts!)
The older version required making chocolate pudding using xanthan gum, and waiting hours for it to set. Some people reported issues with the pudding setting, and the xanthan gum was less readily available for many.
More importantly, it was So. Much. Waiting. I cut that out and replaced it with a chocolate whipped cream instead. So much faster, and just as delicious!
… UPDATE: Okay, apparently I didn’t realize how many of you preferred the pudding version with the xanthan gum! I’m adding it back in, so you can decide which version you want. 😉
Another option is to swap the pudding layer with your favorite low carb pudding recipe. You can even try adapting this vegan chocolate pudding recipe by using low carb sweetener and xanthan gum to thicken.
One of the Best Low Carb Desserts for Any Occasion
Despite the conflict between the name and the fact that I had family coming for New Year’s, I made this sex in a pan dessert for the celebration. I wanted something that looked cool, tasted extra rich, and it had to be something I wouldn’t make every day.
Fortunately, even with multiple steps, it turned out to be a lot easier than it looks! And, the rave reviews were worth the effort.
I’ll admit, I couldn’t bring myself to tell my family what this thing was called. And they did all ask, because it doesn’t look like any other dessert people have seen before. I just said it’s “chocolate layer dessert”. Feel free to do the same if you’re in the same boat!
You may be wondering why I’m sharing this chocolate layer dessert recipe now, toward the end of January. Isn’t this month supposed to be all about healthy eating for many people? Well, yes. But like I said, this low carb dessert is definitely healthier than traditional sex in a pan.
The other reason is, Valentine’s Day is coming up! What better time than that to make this sugar-free sex in a pan dessert? It’s special, it’s chocolate, and you won’t have to come up with an alternate name like I did.
The Trick with Keto Chocolate Layer Dessert
Now, I already fixed the majority of the first problem with layered low carb desserts – the waiting! I say majority because I still recommend refrigerating it for an hour or two at the very end before serving. But, unlike other chocolate layer dessert recipes, at least you don’t have to wait between layers.
So, the only slight challenge that’s left with a treat like this? Apparently, a creamy six layer dessert (or five layer dessert) can be tricky to remove from the pan. It always falls apart on me! The first piece definitely won’t look pretty, so be prepared for that.
After that one piece, make sure you’re cutting all the way through the crust layer and use a thin, sturdy spatula to remove each piece from the pan. I love this silicone cookie spatula, which is the perfect size.
Just remember, it will still taste delicious even if you mess up on the serving process. And if you love chocolate and whipped cream, it will be one of the best low carb desserts you’ve ever had.
More Sugar-Free Dessert Recipes
If you’re looking for more crowd pleasing sugar-free desserts, try these:
Tools To Make Sex in a Pan Dessert:
Click the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.
- 9×9 baking dish – This is the one I used.
- Medium saucepan – This one is a good size if you’re making the old version of the chocolate layer.
- Hand mixer – For beating the whipped cream.
- Sugar-free dark chocolate – This one is sweetened with stevia. Don’t confuse it with unsweetened baking chocolate!
Sex in a Pan Dessert Recipe (One of the Best Low Carb Desserts):
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More Low Carb Recipes To Love
Sex in a Pan Dessert Recipe (Sugar-free, Low Carb, Gluten-free)
Learn how to make sex in a pan dessert - easy and sugar-free! And, this chocolate sex in a pan recipe is one of the best low carb desserts ever. If you're looking for delicious keto desserts that everyone else will love too, this is for you.
Recipe VideoClick or tap on the image below to play the video. It's the easiest way to learn how to make this recipe!
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Cream Cheese Layer
Chocolate Layer - Option 1 (Old Version)
Chocolate Layer - Option 2 (New Version)
RECIPE TIPS + VIDEO in the post above, nutrition info + recipe notes below!
Click on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9 in (23x23 cm) baking dish with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, pecan meal, and powdered erythritol. Stir in melted butter until a crumbly dough forms. Press evenly into the lined baking dish.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden and firm. Set aside to cool.
Cream Cheese Layer
- While the crust is baking, make the cream cheese layer. Use a hand mixer to beat the cream, vanilla extract, and powdered erythritol together, until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in the softened cream cheese, a bit at a time, until well combined.
- Once the crust has cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over it.
Chocolate Layer - Option 1 (old version, like pudding)
While the crust is cooling, make the chocolate pudding layer. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, almond milk, sugar-free dark chocolate, butter, and powdered erythritol. Cook over medium-low to low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted and sweetener dissolves (about 5-10 minutes). Be careful not to get the heat too high to avoid burning the chocolate.
Gradually sprinkle the xanthan gum into the saucepan a little at a time (don't just dump it in) and immediately whisk to incorporate. Continue to heat for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vanilla extract.
Cool the chocolate pudding for 15 minutes (it will thicken, but still be liquid). You can add more xanthan gum if needed, but don't add too much or it will get slimy. Stir/whisk again after cooling, then pour it over the cream cheese layer.
Cover with plastic wrap, making sure it's directly against the surface to prevent a film forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Chocolate Layer - Option 2 (new version, faster)
- While the crust is cooling, make the chocolate layer. Beat the heavy cream, powdered sweetener, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Beat in cocoa powder gradually.
- Spread the chocolate whipped cream over the cream cheese layer.
Whipped Cream Layer
- Use a hand mixer to beat the cream, vanilla extract, and powdered erythritol together, until stiff peaks form.
- Spread the whipped cream over the chocolate layer. Sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.
Refrigerate for 1-2 more hours (or as long as needed until serving) to fully set.
Update: The old version of the chocolate pudding layer is back by popular demand! I've posted both options above, so you can decide which one you want. The older version takes longer and sometimes people have issues with thickening, but tastes more like pudding when you get it right. The newer version is faster but more like a chocolate whipped cream layer.
Serving size: 2.25" square, or 1/16 recipe
Video Showing How To Make Sex in a Pan Dessert:
Don't miss the VIDEO above - it's the easiest way to learn how to make Sex in a Pan Dessert!
This video shows how to make sex in a pan dessert using the newer version of the chocolate layer.
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. You can find individual ingredient carb counts we use in the Low Carb & Keto Food List. Carb count excludes sugar alcohols. Net carb count excludes both fiber and sugar alcohols, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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