Thursday, October 25, 2012

What's the best way to celebrate happy endings and new beginnings?

I'm thinking something sweet just might do the trick!

     Of course, that's how I've always treated a special moment in life. Coming from a big Italian family, having food for every occasion is a must, and this past weekend had some pretty big things going on!

     I am proud to say that I just received my Bachelor's degree in Baking and Pastry Arts Management from the Culinary Institute of America (check out my crazy grad hair up there!). It was three years in the making, and everything came to a grand finale on Thursday, October 18th. I also just started my big girl job as the Baker at the Hilton Harrisburg! It certainly has been a week of change: from living in a dorm room surrounded with packed boxes, moving all of that stuff four hours back to PA, and then trying to muster the energy to UN-pack it all is pretty draining. Not to mention the fact that work orientation started, plus an impending vacation to Disney World (woo!). 

Oh, and did I also forget to say that my sister, Tess, had her Junior Homecoming this past weekend too?
Needless to say, with all of these things happening, a dessert was required to top off the entire week of events. 
That's where this pie comes in...

     One reason I am happy to be home is that I am finally back in a full-sized kitchen that doesn't require to me to lug all of my equipment and ingredients out in order to make and photograph an item for the Crumbcoat blog, prepare something for my business, or just to make myself something to eat! I'm also lucky that my family will try a lot of the things that I make (not all, mind you... there are a few picky eaters, not to name names). 

     I have wanted to try this peanut butter pie recipe for quite some time. The meaning behind the pie is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, since the recipe was dedicated to the husband of food blogger Jennifer Perillo, who unexpectedly passed away. The food blog community rallied around her and all made the pie and blogged it in Mikey's memory. This pie paid homage to Mikey's life, and also a new beginning for Jennie, just as it paid homage to my life at school, and my new beginning here in the working world. It was also a special treat for my little sis, since homecoming only comes but so many times! 


Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Adapted from In Jennie's Kitchen


8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 Tbsp butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, salted and toasted if you wish
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Finely crush cookies in a food processor or by double-sealing them inside a Ziploc bag and crushing them until they are broken down into fine crumbs. Any Chocolate cookie will do, such as Oreos, chocolate wafers, or chocolate teddy grahams. I decided to use chocolate graham cracker crumbs.
3. Melt the butter and combine it with the cookie crumbs, mixing to incorporate. Dump the mixture into a 9 inch springform pan and press down evenly on the bottom and 1 inch up the sides to create an even crust. Bake this for about 8-10 minutes, or until set. Let cool.

4. The original recipe calls for simply melted chocolate chips, which are poured into the bottom of the crust and spread, to create a delicious chocolate layer. I decided to amp up the flavor a bit and use a chocolate ganache, instead of just chocolate chips. If you would like to do this, simply put your 4 ounces of chocolate and 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a bowl, and place it over a double boiler. Stir this until it is melted and silky. Then pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Top with the chopped salted peanuts, leaving some behind to garnish the top of the pie. Place this into the refrigerator to cool down the ganache.
5. Now it's time to make the peanut butter mousse! First start by whipping your heavy cream, and setting it aside in the refrigerator. Be sure not to over-whip it since you will be working it more when you fold it into the peanut butter mousse. If your cream is whipped, but still sliding around the bowl, you are at the right consistency!

6. For the Mousse:
     1. Place your cream cheese and your peanut butter into your mixing bowl and cream until combined and no lumps are present.
     2. Add your powdered sugar (no need to sift this) in 2 or 3 additions, taking care to scrape the bowl thoroughly.
     3. Next, add your sweetened condensed milk and beat until combined.
     4. Transfer this mixture to a larger bowl to accommodate the addition of the whipped cream. You want to fold in your cream by first adding one third of the cream and folding it until you see it form a "ribbon" stage, which is what you see in the picture. [This ensures that your peanut butter mixture is a little lighter, which can allow for the rest of the cream to be properly combined, and also that your original addition of cream won't over-whip as you fold and work with it.] Now, add the rest of the cream and fold until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous.

7. Pour the mousse over the cooled crust and ganache, and smooth the top for presentation purposes. Sprinkle the rest of your chopped peanuts over top for a crunchy garnish. Let this set for at least two hours before serving.

8. If you wish, melt a little chocolate and drizzle over the top of the set pie to create a beautiful (and delicious) presentation.


Enjoy a slice of this creamy yet crunchy pie, and be thankful for the moments past, and the moments that are yet to come!

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :)


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