We don’t keep a lot of recipes from “way back when” (I started learning to cook) because there was such a big learning curve for me. In other words, most of it was not worth remaking and I didn’t have the experience to fix problem recipes. All I had was printed or written copies as I was learning both before the internet gained traction and after, but there wasn’t a lot of cooking help yet.
In the mid 90s, someone served this Pistachio Delight at …..I can’t remember the function, so it was probably boring, except this dessert. I’m not a fan of pistachios, but like with my Caramel Pecan Pie (none of us like pecans), if the flavor is used correctly with other flavours, the odd flavour turns out fabulous. I had a copy out of a magazine years ago, but lost it a move and about 10 years ago, found one similar on the internet. The crust isn’t perfect from the original, but it is good. I’ve played around with it and added graham cracker crumbs (that’s what I made the time I thought to take this photo), and differing amounts of the flour, different flours, walnuts, etc. Basically it’s just a shortbread crust.
The key to the layers is to let each cool off and set up before adding the next layer and then giving it a final setup time before serving. As you can see in the photo, I was impatient so it’s not as pretty as it could be, because I started it too close to serving time. I will eventually edit this and add better photos. I’m usually thinking and cooking with my stomach and don’t think to get photos until after it’s gone. Just trust me that it tastes SO good. Even if you don’t like pistachios.
One last thing to note, that this is not “Watergate Salad” which is a mixed pudding-fruit salad closer to my Frog Eye Salad, than this dessert. The exact origins of the dessert aren’t known for fact, but as the pudding was released in the mid-70s, with Watergate Salad following quickly, the birth of this recipe is probably just a little older than I am.
I don’t have pictures of the sister recipe for this, Chocolate Delight, but you can basically just replace the pistachio pudding with chocolate and run with it. Bonus points if you use an Oreo crumb crust.
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cup salted butter softened - softened
- 1 cup pecans - crushed
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature - room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 8 oz cool whip
- 3.4 oz instant pistachio pudding - two packages - 6.8oz
- 3 cups milk - whole or 2%
- 8 oz cool whip
- 2 tbsp pistachios and/or pecans - chopped, optional
Crust - start 4+ hours before needed
- Preheat oven to 350°f and grease a 9x13" baking pan.
- Mix the flour, crushed walnuts, and butter together. Add the crust mixture to greased pan and press down to form a firm, even crust. Bake the crust for about 30 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Refrigerate the crust until completely cooled.
- Bake the crust for about 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Cool 15 minutes on counter, and then refrigerate the crust until completely cooled.
Cream Cheese Layer
- Using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cool whip. When completely combined, evenly spread the mixture on top of the cooled crust.
Pistachio Pudding Layer
- In a bowl, mix together the two boxes of pistachio pudding mixes with three cups of milk until it begins to thicken. Pour the pudding over the cream cheese layer evenly. Allow the dessert to chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
- Once the dessert has chilled for an hour, spread 8oz of cool whip over top of the pudding layer. Top the cool whip with chopped pistachios and/or pecans. Allow the dessert to chill for another hour or until ready to serve!