by Stephanie Zonis
8 to 10 servings
OK, you peanut butter freaks, I know you're out there! I should know; I'm one of you. Here is a pie for all of us. A simple chocolate crust encloses a simple peanut butter filling, and, in the spirit of summer, this pie is frozen. As it can wait in the freezer for up to a week before you eat it, it's an ideal "make ahead" dessert. Bear in mind that you'll want to defrost it before eating; the entire pie will defrost in the fridge in 5 to 6 hours. You'll need a powerful, hand-held electric mixer to make this, or you can make it using a stand mixer.
For the crust, I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; you can find them in many supermarkets near the ice cream. I like to use a reduced-sugar, reduced-sodium peanut butter; use your favorite brand. Note, though, that I haven't tried this recipe with one of the "all natural" peanut butters that separate as they stand, so I don't know if they would work here. Incidentally, if heavy cream is all you have, you can substitute it for the light cream called for in the recipe (don't forget you'll need a cup of heavy cream to whip and fold into the pie filling, though). If you like a bit more chocolate in your pie, check out the variation.
1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
8 ozs. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup crunchy OR creamy peanut butter
2-1/4 cups unsifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup light cream OR half and half
1 cup heavy cream
Hot fudge and caramel topping
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Adjust oven rack to center position; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch heatproof glass pie plate with a 12 to 13-inch length of regular weight aluminum foil, shiny side up, pressing out as many creases as possible. Fold any extra foil over the edge of the pie plate. (This step is optional, but it guarantees that the crust won't stick to the pie plate when you're serving the pie).
Combine chocolate wafer crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. With spoon, blend thoroughly. Add melted butter and mix well to combine. Turn about two-thirds of this mixture into the pie plate. With back of spoon or your fingers, press crumb mixture onto sides of pie plate to make a high standing rim that extends slightly above the edges of the pie plate. Use remaining crumb mixture to form bottom of pie shell, compacting it onto pie plate bottom. Try not to have the crust too thick where bottom and sides meet.
Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 7 minutes, or just until set. Cool to room temperature on wire rack, then freeze for at least one hour, until frozen solid. When frozen, remove from freezer. Carefully peel back any foil folded over the pie plate edges. Remove crust (still in foil) from pie plate, and place on flat surface. Gently peel foil from crust sides in small sections. Maneuver crust so that it rests on the upturned fingers of one hand; with other hand, carefully peel foil away from bottom of crust. (This sounds difficult, but I can do it in less time than it takes to describe it. Just be gentle with the crust, as it is somewhat fragile.) Return crust to pie plate, and replace in freezer until needed.
Chill a medium bowl in refrigerator or freezer for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, peanut butter, and confectioners' sugar. Add about half of the light cream. Starting mixer on low speed, combine these ingredients thoroughly, gradually increasing speed to high (medium if you're using a stand mixer). Mixture will be thick. Scrape bowl and beater(s) with rubber spatula. Gradually add remaining light cream, beating at low speed to incorporate, then at high speed (medium speed for a stand mixer) to blend thoroughly. Scrape off beater(s), but do not bother to wash them.
In chilled medium bowl, beat heavy cream at high speed until just before stiff peak stage. All at once, add to peanut butter mixture. With rubber spatula, quickly but gently and thoroughly fold the two together only until they are combined (mixture may start to set up while you're working with it).
Pile into pie shell, mounding filling slightly in center. Return to freezer. After an hour or two, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze at least 6 hours.
To defrost, place entire pie, still wrapped tightly, in refrigerator. Allow to defrost for 5 to 6 hours before serving. To serve, slightly warm optional hot fudge and caramel ice cream toppings. Cut a slice of the pie, using a sharp, serrated knife, and place it on a serving plate. Drizzle hot fudge topping lightly over the slice and onto the serving plate, then repeat with caramel topping. Be a minimalist with the toppings here; you still want a lot of the pie filling to show through. Garnish with a bit of whipped cream. Serve immediately. Pass additional topping and whipped cream with pie slices.
As you are folding the whipped cream into the pie filling, add 2/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips; fold in just until evenly distributed. Continue with recipe as above.
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This page originally created in 1998 and modified October 2007
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