For the Crust:
- 1 cup butter, softened but not to room temperature
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped in small pieces
For the Cream Cheese Layer:
- 2 (8oz) packages Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
For the Pudding Layer and Topping:
- 2 small packages Jell-O instant lemon pudding mix
- 3 cups cold milk
- 3 – 4 drops lemon extract or 1 tbsp lemon juice – optional
- 1 (16oz) container Cool Whip, almost totally thawed
- Lemon zest, to garnish (optional)
- Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and chopped pecans in a mixing bowl. A fork works really well to get everything mixed together.
- Press into a 9×13 baking dish and bake 15-20 minutes at 350°, or until a light golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Beat together cream cheese and sugar until creamy and smooth. Spread over cooled crust.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk.
- Then whisk in the lemon extract or lemon juice if using. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken up a little. Spread on top of the cream cheese layer. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 – 6 hours. May be refrigerated overnight.
- When ready to serve, spread whipped topping over the pudding layer. Cut into 18-24 pieces (depending on how large or small you want them) and garnish with fresh lemon zest.