Most peanut butter pie recipes combine peanut butter, powdered sugar and cream cheese for its filling. This is more of a peanut butter mousse atop a layer of rich chocolate ganache. You can substitute any pre-baked cookie crumb crust. This is adapted from a Lee Bailey recipe found in Food and Wine magazine many years ago.
The Crust (enough for an 8” pie shell) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup salted peanuts
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Combine flour, brown sugar and peanuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to combine, then add melted butter and pulse a few more times. Turn out into pie plate and bake in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. Turn off oven and leave the crust in for about 25 minutes to finish baking/setting up. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
The Chocolate Filling
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 62% dark)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in cubes
2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter (Skippy’s works better than “Natural”)
Place chopped chocolate and powdered sugar in the top of a double boiler. Scald the heavy cream and pour it over the chocolate/sugar mixture and stir. Place the double boiler over simmering water. In a separate bowl, whisk together the two egg yolks then add a few spoonfuls of the hot chocolate and whisk it to ‘temper’ the yolks. When the yolks are warm, add them back to the melted chocolate and continue whisking (gently) to combine. Add the butter and when the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat, stir in the peanut butter and then strain the whole mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Your pie shell should be cool by now; pour the filling into
the crust, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge while preparing the mousse.
The Peanut Butter Mousse
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy, not “Natural”)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mascarpone
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup peanuts or chopped peanut chews, for garnish
Whip heavy cream until stiff. In medium bowl, combine peanut butter, vanilla, mascarpone and powdered sugar. Fold cream into peanut butter mixture. Spread atop chilled chocolate layer and garnish with ¼ cup peanuts or chopped peanut chews. Chill until serving.
(inspired by Mark Miller’s Coyote Café cookbook)
Lemon-Spiked Pie Crust (inspired by Food & Wine and Fine Cooking magazines)
(yields enough for two 9” pie shells)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional, but so tasty)
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. salt
6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) cold nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
¼ cup ice-cold water plus 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, pine nuts, lemon zest, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the cold cubed butter and mix just until coarse and crumbly. Then add the cold shortening and mix until most pieces are almost incorporated. Gradually add the lemon water, 1 to 2 Tbs. at a time, until the mixture looks shaggy but moist enough to hold together. Dust your hands with flour, gently shape the dough into two equal disks. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 60 minutes, but preferably 2 to 4 hours, before rolling. Use one for this pie, the other will keep in the fridge for a week, or freeze for later use. When chilled, roll out one portion of dough about 1/8” thick on to a piece of parchment paper dusted with a little bit of cornmeal (this gives it a bit more texture) and then fit it into the pie plate. Chill this in the freezer while you prepare the filling. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
3 large eggs
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups fresh blackberries tossed with 1 Tablespoon of flour
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, flour, and sugar until well mixed. Beat in the buttermilk, alternating with the melted butter. Add the lemon and lime zests and lemon juice. Sprinkle floured blackberries over the pie shell. Gently pour buttermilk custard over the berries. (Don’t worry if the berries rise to the top.) Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes to set up the crust. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for additional 40 minutes until custard is set. If the edges of the pie are browning too quickly, cover them with a strip of aluminum foil. After 40 minutes, you can check the center of the pie with the tip of a knife; there will be a bit of melted butter on it but the knife should test clean. You can give it a few more minutes, but remember, it continues to set up as it cools. The top should be crackly and the blackberries should peek through. Set aside on a rack to cool, then place in the fridge. If you really want to paint the town, or if it just happens to be cinco de Mayo, serve the pie with…
Tequila Whipped Cream
¾ cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon tequila (gold, if you have it)
¼ teaspoon lime zest
Place the cream in a chilled mixer bowl. Beat with whisk attachment, starting on slow. Add confectioners’ sugar and increase speed to medium. Continue beating until cream is thick but be careful not to overbeat. I like to finish whipping the cream by hand (use the same whisk attachment) because you have a bit more control. Add the tequila and the zest and give the cream a few more turns with the whisk. Serve alongside the pie, or on top of the pie, or both.
Depending upon the number of guests you wish to serve, you can bake this in either a 7 and 1/2" or in a 10"springform pan.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
For the 10" springform pan:
1 cup egg whites, room temperature (7 or 8, depending on size)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until foamy then add cream of tartar and vinegar, beating until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and add the sugar about a tablespoon at a time. The sugar needs to incorporate gradually- be patient. When the meringue is very thick and looks like marshmallow, turn the mixer down to low, add your vanilla and give it a few more turns. It is now ready to fill your springform pan.
Make sure you place the filled pan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in pre-heated 300 degree oven for one hour. After the torte has baked for an hour, turn the oven off. Without opening the oven door, leave the torte in the oven for an additional hour and a half. This allows it to cool down gradually. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. As it cools, the torte will fall. Before serving, remove from springform pan and cover with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries. You can also split the torte in half (it's very fragile) and fill it with cream and berries, then cover the top and sides with additional cream. Refrigerate until serving time.
For the 7 and 1/2" springform pan
1/2 cup egg whites, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Follow above directions, adjusting baking time to one hour in the pre-heated 300 degree oven, then turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven for an additional hour.
Here's a recipe for cherry pie using Hyline Orchard cherries. They are shipped frozen so I always cook the filling first, let it cool, then pour it into my pie shell, "lattice" the top and pop it in the oven. You can substitute fresh cherries in season- I prefer sweet Bing or a combination of Rainier and Bing. I have also used half fresh and half frozen when pitting time is limited. You will need two recipes of pate brisee for this pie.
1 nine inch pie shell (plus one recipe pate brisee rolled and cut into lattice strips)
6 cups Hyline frozen cherries or 6 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (if you prefer less sweetness, cut this back by a tablespoon or two)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
egg wash and 1 Tablespoon of sugar for lattice crust
In medium saucepan, whisk together granulated and brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and lemon zest. Add cherries and cook until mixtures thickens. This will need to boil but you don't want it to scorch. Keep it over medium heat, stirring often. The idea is to cook down the liquid, thicken the cornstarch and reduce the mixture. After the filling is cooked, remove from the heat, add the almond extract and pour into a bowl to cool. (I set it in the fridge.) When completely cool, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Roll one circle of pate brisee into a large circle about 1/8" thick and cut wide strips to form a lattice.
Pour cooled filling into pie shell, place lattice strips on top (you can weave them or just place them in a criss-cross pattern) and make sure to seal the edges then trim the excess dough. Brush lattice with egg wash and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the filling is bubbling in the center. (Every oven is different- keep an eye on things; if you think the crust is getting too dark, cover the top with parchment paper or aluminum foil.) Remove from the oven and set aside on a rack to cool. Delicious on its own, even better with good quality vanilla bean ice cream.