Friday, August 26, 2011

The Peanut Butter Pie of Love and Loss

Peanut Butter Pie from In Jennie’s Kitchen
This creamy peanut butter pie is dedicated to someone I’ve never met. It is for Jennifer Perillo, the talented blogger of In Jennie’s Kitchen, whose husband Mikey died earlier this month. He was very young, just 51, and leaves behind two little girls.

Just days after Mikey’s death, Jennifer posted about one of her husband’s favorite desserts, a creamy peanut butter pie with chocolate cookie crust.

“I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow,” she wrote. “Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I'm waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”

Food bloggers and readers made this pie on Aug. 12, and many others have shared it since. An outpouring of thoughtfulness led to the creation of Bloggers Without Borders, a nonprofit organization to connect bloggers with those in need. Its current project is #AFundforJennie designed to help Jennie and her two daughters with financial security.

My husband loves peanut butter pie, and yet I have never made it for him—until now. Here is the recipe, in Jennifer’s own words, in case you’d like to make it for someone you love.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
from In Jennie’s Kitchen

8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.  Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

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