Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

Since I made fruit desserts all summer, I now find myself faced with having to catch up on rich, chocolate-y desserts in the book. Each of the four desserts in this cycle (Alicia designed a pattern for us to get through the book without too much repetition) involves chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Even the pie entry this time around involves chocolate. Don't get me wrong: I love chocolate. I eat it every day. My map of Paris is covered with dots that represent chocolate shops. Still.

When I saw "Frozen Peanut Butter Pie," I immediately thought, "I need some kids to feed this to. No self-respecting French adult is going to eat this!" So I encouraged Julia to invite some friends over. She found that somewhat irritating, but agreed in the end.

The crust was the best part, I thought. I had to improvise because I didn't have enough "chocolate wafers". Galettes Bretons worked very nicely as a stand-in.

Now on to the dramatic part of the recipe: I decided to finally pull the Kitchenaid out and use it. I've been fretting about this for at least a month: can my beloved and precious mixer handle European power, even with the giant transformer that now sits under my kitchen counter? I've had anxiety dreams of strangers coming over to bake, turning on the mixer, and having it explode in a puff of smoke. Let me just say that this happened to my Mac in Germany once. It was not pretty.
So I turned the mixer on with the cream cheese and peanut butter. So far, so good. Then "pop!" Big spark. Maria in meltdown mode.
Fortunately, Sami was home. I was not about to turn that mixer on for the first time without backup! So I took a deep breath and asked him to please come take a look. Long story short--my husband is a genius and my mixer is fully functional. Some nuts (not the edible kind) had come loose and caused a short. Whew. I can make cheesecake next week!

So back to the pie. Julia had gone to a party involving waffles last week and had bought two cans of whipped cream for it, which got sent right back home with her. So I decided that since I was serving this pie to the girls who loved this whipped cream, I could just use it (an entire can!) instead of trying to whip French cream, which has been rather a chore in the past (French liquid cream has 30% fat instead of the 40% you get in the states). I cut out the powdered sugar in the recipe to compensate for the sweetness of the ready-made cream.

So here's the pie--just a sliver! It's very rich and very sweet, with really just a hint of peanut butter flavor. The 6 girls barely got through half of it. Julia's friends seemed to really like it, but Julia herself said it wasn't her favorite. It's been sitting in the freezer feeling lonely, I must say.

So here's the recipe. Find some hungry teenagers to serve it to!

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

6 oz. chocolate wafers (use the Nabisco kind if you can find them; Oreos usually work as well. I used some "Sablés au chocolat," which were very nice)
1/4 c. (1 oz.) salted peanuts
6 T. (3 oz.) butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350. Line a 9-inch pie plate with foil. Put your cookies and peanuts in the food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Pour in the butter and pulse that until you have a homogenous mixture. Press the crumbs into the pie plate, going as far up the sides as you can (I couldn't get mine to go very far up). Bake for 7 minutes and let cool. [By the way, this is an excellent time to get your 8-oz. block of cream cheese out of the fridge to come to room temperature.] Put the crust in the freezer for at least 4 hours. Then grab the foil and pull the crust out of the pan. Carefully peel the foil off the crust and return the crust to the pan. Believe me, you'll be happy you did all this when it comes to cutting the pie. Return the crust to the freezer and make the filling.

8 oz. milk chocolate (I used 6 oz. milk and 2 oz. dark)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. (4.6 oz.) smooth peanut butter
3/4 c. (6 oz.) milk
1 c. (3.5 oz.) sifted powdered sugar
1 c. whipping cream

Break up the chocolate and melt it very carefully on very low heat on the stove or by 20-second intervals in the microwave. In your (fully functional) mixer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until very smooth. Add the chocolate and beat until that is smooth. On low speed gradually beat in the milk, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the sugar and then take the bowl off the mixer. In another bowl, whip the cream until it holds a shape. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Now pour the mixture on top of the frozen crust. If it doesn't fit, put what does fit in the freezer and let it settle for about 10 minutes before adding more. Repeat if necessary (mine fit). Freeze until firm (probably at least 4 hours); cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in the refrigerator or even out on the counter for about 10-15 minutes before serving--it makes the pie a lot easier to serve and eat. Enjoy with a sweet tooth.

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