Peanut Butter Pie

It took me a year to get around to posting about the Lemon Angel Food Cake that I made Aidan for his last birthday. This year, I’m really upping my game and posting about his birthday treat from this year a mere 10 days after the fact. I am on the ball.

This year, Aidan requested a peanut butter pie, which is significantly easier to make than last year’s angel food cake. Peanut butter pie is the kind of thing that is very accessible even for the non-baker. If you use a pre-made crust, then the only thing you need to do is mix together the ingredients for the filling and let the pie set—no baking required at all. The only important thing to remember when it comes to peanut butter pie is that you can’t use natural peanut butter. You have to use the super creamy, sweetened stuff that you’d spread on super soft white bread. We’re making dessert here.

Peanut Butter Pie via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

The trickiest thing about making this particular recipe is that you make your own whipped cream to fold into the filling at the very end (just to make it a bit lighter in texture). But making whipped cream isn’t difficult—it just takes some time. You can make your life a little easier by chilling your bowl and beaters ahead of time and by making sure that your cream is nice and cold. Really, I highly recommend making your own whipped cream whenever you can, not because I am a whipped cream snob, but because it is a fantastic party trick. Based on my own carefully collected scientific data, pulling out homemade whipped cream to top whatever pie/cake/dessert-ish thing you’ve made for your friends will increase positive reactions and praise by a minimum of 83%. People will act like you are Julia Child come back to bless the people with the gift of good food. And all the while you (and your more whipped-cream savvy friends) will know that you just threw that shit in the mixer and let it go for a few minutes while you sipped a cup of coffee.

Peanut Butter Pie via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

For the filling, I used a recipe from the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine because it was close by and seemed very similar to recipes I’ve used in the past. The original recipe calls for a graham cracker crust and for melting chocolate chips and spreading the melted chocolate on the bottom of the pie crust. At Aidan’s request, I substituted an Oreo crust and then decided to spread some fudge sauce on the bottom of the crust. Before serving the pie, I topped it with some chopped cocktail peanuts and drizzled some more fudge sauce over the top. The end result was excellent and very rich—a great way to celebrate the birth of my favorite person.

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Peanut Butter Pie (adapted from Nov. 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine)

  • 24 Oreos
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 jar of fudge sauce (not chocolate syrup)
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 c creamy peanut butter (not natural peanut butter)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 c whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional: Chopped cocktail peanuts for topping

Directions:

  1. To make the crust, preheat oven to 350F. Place Oreos in food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs and the cream filling has completely disappeared into the cookie crumbs. Melt the butter and drizzle over the cookie crumbs. Mix until the crumbs are evenly coated with butter. Dump the crumb mixture into a pie plate and use your fingers or the back of a spoon to evenly press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake  for 6-7 minutes. Allow pie crust to cool on a wire rack.
  2. Warm the fudge sauce up enough so that it has a spreadable consistency. Spread a thin layer of fudge sauce on the bottom of pie crust. Allow the pie crust to continue to cool as you make the filling.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. (This will be easier if the cream is very cold and the bowl and beaters are chilled ahead of time.) Place whipped cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to add it to the filling.
  4. Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1/4 c at a time and mix on low until incorporated after every addition.
  5. Fold half of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until incorporated. Repeat with the second half of the whipped cream. Spoon the filling into the cooled pie crust, smooth the top of the pie, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set (at least 3 hours). Optional: Top pie with chopped peanuts and drizzle additional fudge sauce over the top of the pie before serving.

Chocolate Peanut Butter (Birthday!) Cake

It got so busy around here, I lost my head. Frankly, I’m still not sure that I’ve been able to get the damn thing back on straight. The good news is that amidst all the crazy, I managed to find time to have a little get-together to celebrate my birthday a few weeks back. As a gift to myself, I made dinner and cake for my grad school cohort. They are a fantastic group and all pitched in to buy me this gift:

yarn

So much gorgeous yarn!

As part of my hella-broke lifestyle, I have only been buying yarn on the cheap for about two years now, which means basic discounted wool that is always purchased for a very specific purpose. All of these super-soft, beautiful skeins are things that I would not allow myself to buy at the moment. But now I have the luxury of getting to try them all out. It’s badass. And after spending nearly four months without picking up my knitting, this is just the kind of thing that I needed to get me inspired again. Thanks, friends!

As part of my birthday get-together, I made my own cake. This, of course, flies in the face of conventional birthday wisdom which says that someone should make (or buy) a cake for you. I have no place in my life for conventional wisdom. Why wouldn’t I seize the opportunity to make myself the World’s Most Decadent Cake on a day that demands decadent cakes, especially if, you know, I really like to make cakes? Aidan suggested that it makes it seem as though other people (like him) could not make a cake that was good enough for my tastes. For the record, I would like to say that this is absolutely not true. I have never met a cake I didn’t like. I do not discriminate against cakes of box-mix or bakery origin. I believe that all cakes are meant to be enjoyed. And if you bring me a cake and I already have one made? Then we will rejoice together in the sheer deliciousness of our double-cake bounty.

That said, this recipe is getting filed away under “EPIC.” Dense chocolate cake + peanut butter cream cheese frosting + chocolate peanut butter ganache = divine. Aidan described it first as evil because “it’s so good you just keep eating it until it makes you sick” and then later as chocolate cake sandwiched between layers of peanut butter chocolate fudge. I call it the best birthday gift I have ever given myself.

chocolate peanut butter cake

It is admittedly a little homely, what with it’s gloppy chocolate glaze. But this cake does not need the pretense of decorations or fance. This cake is a scrappy boxer waiting to deliver a knock out blow. This cake is contending for a starring role in The Cake in the House.

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Janeane Garofalo – The Cake in the House
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Jokes Joke of the Day Funny Jokes

I followed the recipe as is, with the small exception of making a double layer, rather than triple layer, cake. The cake batter is actually a one-bowl recipe that does not call for the use of an electric mixer. Relying on a whisk alone can make the actual mixing of the batter a bit hairy. You can think of it more optimistically as a fantastic upper arm workout. Or whip out the mixer. Whatever. Deb at Smitten Kitchen recommended freezing the cake layers for easier construction and frosting of the cake. I wrapped my cake layers in plastic wrap, put them in freezer bags, and let them freeze overnight before putting the cake together. It came together in a breeze. Per her recommendations, I also froze the frosted cake for about an hour before making and pouring on the peanut butter chocolate glaze. The cake was still a little cold when we cut into a few hours later, but that certainly didn’t affect its deliciousness.

So, in conclusion, I emphatically encourage you to make this cake. And then promptly invite me over.

cake slice

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, where it was adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple -Layer Cakes)

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 c sugar
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of 3 8″ round cake pans (I used 2 9″ pans instead). Cut circles of parchment paper to lay on the bottom of each pan. Butter the parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk until blended. Gradually beat in the water. Beat in the vinegar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto wire racks and remove the parchment paper. Let the cakes cool completely.
  4. To make assembling and frosting the cake easier, freeze the cake layers for at least 30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 10 oz cream cheese
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
  • 5 c powdered sugar
  • 2/3 c creamy peanut butter
  1. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar a cup at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the peanut butter and beat until well blended.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze:

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 c half-and-half
  1. In a double boiler, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.