The Joy of Sex (in a Pan)

It won’t ghost you or complain about your family, and the finish is just as satisfying.

Spring, 2022 / No. 48
Brian Francis

As a middle-aged homosexual, I’ve had a few dalliances in some interesting places. But how many of us can say we’ve had Sex in a Pan? If you haven’t tried this decadent dessert before, it’s time to let go of those inhibitions and surrender to your desires. After all, this pudding-based five-layer creation didn’t earn its name without good reason. In fact, Sex in a Pan has many things in common with actual sex, including nuts, gooey substances, and feelings of guilt after you’re finished.

You’ll find variations of this dessert in many community cookbooks. (The recipe here comes from my copy of the United Church of Canada’s Let’s Break Bread Together.) Depending on the community and its moral compass, you’ll sometimes find it referred to by tamer, less suggestive names, like Ecstasy in a Pan (the recipe name in my United Church book), Heaven in a Pan, or The Thing My Husband and I Used to Do Before He Decided That Falling Asleep While Watching 90 Day Fiancé Was More Desirable Than Me in a Pan. Call me a purist, but I think there’s something so straightforward and relatable about the name Sex in a Pan. I remember my own mother serving this at Sunday dinners, which led to some nervous giggles and seat squirming on my part. She didn’t seem to mind. She was, after all, a robust, adult woman. And she no doubt knew the benefit of a satisfying finish.

What makes Sex in a Pan such a classic? Well, in my humble opinion, it combines two textures I enjoy most in a dessert: crunchy and squishy. The pecan-studded shortbread crust provides the right amount of crispiness, while the soft and pillowy pudding and Cool Whip layers add an edible cloud quality that makes your eyes roll back. And let’s not forget the cream cheese layer, which lends just the right amount of tang.

So does this dessert really live up to its name? That depends on your perspective. For those of us who have reached a certain age, hunkering down with a good dessert on a Saturday night can seem a lot more appealing than other activities. And you don’t have to shower ahead of time, either. Best of all, Sex in a Pan won’t ghost you or complain about your family, and will still be there in the morning, should you decide you need a little lovin’ for breakfast.

Sex in a Pan 

½ cup pecans, chopped
1 cup flour
½ cup butter or margarine
1 250-gram package cream cheese, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1-litre tub of Cool Whip
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1 package chocolate instant pudding
3 cups milk
Grated chocolate or sprinkles (optional)


1. For the bottom layer, mix pecans, flour, and butter together and pat into a nine-inch-by-thirteen-inch pan. Bake for seventeen to twenty minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until golden. Let cool.

2. For the second layer, beat cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth. Fold in half a litre of Cool Whip. Spread mixture on cooled crust.

3. For the third layer, mix vanilla pudding mix with 1½ cups milk, according to package directions, and spread over cream cheese layer. Chill and allow to set slightly.

4. For the fourth layer, mix chocolate pudding mix with 1½ cups milk, according to package directions and spread over vanilla pudding layer. Chill and allow to set slightly.

5. Spread remaining Cool Whip over chocolate pudding layer to top it all off. 

6. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, sprinkles, or rose petals if you want to get romantic. Chill at least four hours, or overnight. This dessert can be frozen, but I’d be surprised if it makes it to the freezer.