I’ve said before that I’m pretty indifferent on the combination of chocolate and peanut butter; I like them each separately, but together they generally elicit a big ‘meh’ as far as I’m concerned. However, I was actually looking forward to making this Peanut Butter Pie with Cookie Crust & Easy Fudge Sauce for Baked Sunday Mornings for one particular reason: There’s a mac-and-cheese focused restaurant in Oakland, CA, called Homeroom (OMG, if you live in the area and haven’t been there, seriously do yourself a favor), and aside from some of the best-ever mac & cheese I’ve ever had, there’s one dessert on the menu that I get every time I’m there, and which I dream about the rest of the time: Peanut Butter Pie. It’s a silky, fluffy, moussy frozen filling nestled inside a graham cracker crust, drizzled with chocolate sauce. Inexplicably, I’ve never made it, even though I own their cookbook. But when I saw this pie in BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking, it immediately reminded me of that peanut butter pie that I lust after, and it was one of our remaining recipes that I anxiously awaited. This one is slightly different in that the crust is made of crushed chocolate wafers and there’s a layer of melted chocolate on the bottom, but the peanut butter filling was indeed very reminiscent of Homeroom’s glorious creation. Thanks to a generous 1½ cups of whipped heavy cream, it is fluffy and mousse-like, not heavy as many peanut butter desserts can be.
Anyone who knows me knows that while there’s no place I’d rather be than in the kitchen, I am a slowwwwwpoke when making basically anything. Which is why I was delighted that this pie doesn’t take long at all to whip up, even for me! It’s a 100% no-bake dessert, and that’s quite nice every once in a while. You’ll first make the chocolate crumb crust, which is simply comprised of crushed chocolate wafers (I used Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers), a little sugar, and melted butter stirred together. The only issue I had with this recipe is that the amount of crust was woefully insufficient for my taste– I like a thick crust, and there was barely enough to cover the sides of the pie dish. I ended up making another half-batch to add to the original amount, so next time I would simply make 50% more, which works out well because it uses up an entire 9-ounce sleeve of the chocolate wafers. I pressed the additional crust into the dish, popped it into the fridge to chill, and was quickly on my merry way to preparing the filling.
Actually, one quick step first– you’ll melt chocolate with a smidge of corn syrup to coat the bottom of the crust. The recipe calls for using chocolate chips, but I used chopped 61% chocolate instead, as it melts better than chocolate chips.
As for the filling, this is so dead simple– I couldn’t believe how quick it was. You beat a brick of cream cheese, a couple big dollops of peanut butter, dark brown sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer until smooth, then fold in heavy cream that you’ve whipped to soft peaks. Pile this beautifully fluffy cloud right into the chilled pie crust, and in the freezer it goes. At first it seems like way too much cream for that amount of peanut butter, but it will all get incorporated with a little patience and a light hand. Also, I used vanilla bean paste here, as I like the look of the vanilla seed flecks throughout the peanut butter. (These days my usage of extract vs. paste depends on whether it’s important not to have visible flecks, because my giant bottle of Nielsen-Massey extract is getting low, whereas my giant bottle of paste is fuller, and the price of replacing them is unconscionable at the moment due to the high price of vanilla…)
While the pie sets, you’ll make a very simple “fudge” sauce, which is actually just a chocolate ganache with a lot of corn syrup in it. (I know, way to sell it, right?) You’ll pour hot cream with corn syrup over chopped dark and milk chocolates, then whisk it all together into a beautifully smooth ganache. It will firm up quite a bit if you put it in the fridge, but can be easily rewarmed for drizzling.
The pie is supposed to be frozen for a minimum of 4 hours, but I took it out after 3 hours because of the memory of the last icebox pie I made, BAKED’s Frozen Swiss Chocolate Pie a couple of years ago. That pie was so rock-solid, even after sitting out at room temperature for hours, that is was really not fun to cut or deal with at all (mighty delicious though). I didn’t know if the same thing would happen here, but to preempt any such over-freezing, I took it out early. I was thrilled that the filling texture was fluffy, yet it cut fairly cleanly. The only part that was slightly annoying was that the melted chocolate layer on the bottom was a bit difficult to cut through.
The rest of the pie went back in the freezer overnight, and I was even more thrilled to discover 24 hours later that the texture of the pie does not get overly solid at all! It was simply firmer, but still light, fluffy, and smooth; in fact, I liked it even better than the initial tasting. The chocolate-covered crust, on the other hand, was rather challenging to cut through in the pie dish after freezing for so long. I’m wondering if there’s any reason why the melted chocolate can’t be omitted– I might try this next time. Better yet, I wonder if I could simply fold the melted chocolate through the peanut butter filling all ribbon-like? Perhaps there’s another pie in my not-too-distant future…
Oh! And I thought of one more thing– how fab would this be if you subbed speculoos (cookie butter) for the peanut butter?! That just might be my next version.
Despite the hard crust, I absolutely loved this pie, and I’d eat it over and over again. I highly recommend you do the same! Find the recipe for Peanut Butter Pie with Cookie Crust & Easy Fudge Sauce at Baked Sunday Mornings, and take a peek at my fellow BSMers’ pies too. 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2019.