If you read any food blogs other than this one, chances are you have had your fill of posts about peanut butter pie. If you have no idea what I am talking about, food bloggers around the world have spent the past few days making peanut butter pie, and writing about it, because one in our midst lost her husband unexpectedly. When someone experiences tragedy, our natural reaction is to want to help – even if we don’t know the person who is suffering. I always offer food to people in need but seeing as Jennie lives clear across the country, cooking dinner for her and her daughters was not realistic.
Jennie took to her blog and wrote a heartbreaking post about her husband’s love for peanut butter pie and that, if we wanted to help her, we should all make one in his honor. She said that she never made it often enough for him, that there was always tomorrow or the next week and other dishes, or even just plain old life, got in the way. I think this emotion resonated with so many people and it is the reason that there is peanut butter pie everywhere you look. We all assume that if our families are intact today, the same will be true tomorrow. We all know life is fragile, relationships are tenuous, and yet we soldier on as if everything will last forever. Of course we do. If we didn’t, we would be living in a state of constant fear and that isn’t good for anyone.
Randy travels frequently for work, I send my kids off to school/preschool/camp, where they are in the hands of airline captains, teachers, and counselors. If I wondered every single day whether that plane ride or bus ride or car ride was going to be their last, I would not be able to get out of bed in the morning. But hearing of the death of a beloved spouse and father of two young children certainly gives me pause and makes me reflect on what I have and how fortunate we are.
Anyway, more eloquent writers than me have done a much better job of writing about Jennie, about loss, about this amazing community of food bloggers who rally around our own. I’m a little late to the party but I did make a peanut butter pie. I didn’t make Mikey’s version, I made one that has been in my “to make” file forever and I brought it to a pie party. Every year, our friends Matt and Jessica throw a pie party where there are categories, judging, and prizes. I am not a competitive type but I do have a reputation to uphold and truthfully, I had plans to bring a different kind of pie. One that celebrates summer in Seattle with nectarines and blackberries or apricots and raspberries. But I couldn’t make a pie and not make a peanut butter pie. I didn’t win and I didn’t care – the pie was delicious. Bittersweet though.
Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Food & Wine
Makes one 9-inch pie
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (½ cup)
½ stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
8 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (from a 9-ounce package), finely ground (2 cups)
Peanut Butter Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 cup)
1 cup chunky peanut butter
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream
¾ cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (½ cup)
½ cup heavy cream
Make the chocolate crust
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Stir well, then stir int eh cookie crumbs. Press the cookie crumbs over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and 1½ inches up the side. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until set; the crust will continue to firm up as it cools.
Make the peanut butter filling
In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese with the peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until blended. In another large bowl, using the same beaters, whip the chilled cream until firm. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream and ½ cup of the chopped peanuts. Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle lightly with salt and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.
Make the chocolate topping
In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and the cream is hot. Stir the chocolate topping until blended and then cool to barely warm, stirring occasionally.
Spread the chocolate topping over the peanut butter filling and refrigerate until just firm, 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of chopped peanuts around the edge of the pie. Carefully run a thin knife around the edge of the pie, then remove the springform ring. Using a sharp knife, cut the pie into wedges. Run the knife under hot water and dry between each cut.
The pie can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Garnish with chopped peanuts right before serving. Serve the pie chilled or slightly cooler than room temperature.