March 14, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

It's one of my favorite days of the year: Pi Day! On March 14, the date is 3.14, which are the first three digits of pi, so I use it as an excuse to eat as much pie as possible. My high school used to bring in dozens of pies so every student could have a slice, but for now I'll have to settle for making them myself. Unfortunately, I won't be making this particular pie for a few months given how expensive peanut butter is in Europe (anywhere from 5-10 euro for a small jar!), but it's definitely a crowd pleaser. It's a chocolate pie crust (you can use an Oreo crust instead but Oreos are also insanely expensive here) filled with a decadent peanut butter mousse swirled with homemade chocolate sauce and topped with chocolate chips and crunchy, salty peanuts. It's basically all the flavors of a peanut butter cup packed into a pie.

If you decide to pass on the Oreo crust, I generally go with a chocolate pie crust. It's the same recipe I use for my regular sweet crust (so it's sure to be flaky) but with cocoa powder substituted for some of the flour. Just pulse some flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a food processor with some butter and an egg yolk. The secret to flaky crusts is using cold ingredients, so make sure your butter is chilled so it releases steam when baked to create those layers. Since the filling isn't baked later, I cook the crust fully by blind-baking it to avoid a puffy crust and then finishing it without the foil and weights so it cooks all the way through.

The peanut butter mousse is pretty simple. It starts with some homemade whipped cream, which is literally just cream that you whip with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla. If that's still too much (trust me it's worth the effort!), you can use a tub of CoolWhip or some other prepared whipped cream product. It's hard to beat that fresh whipped cream, though. The next step is whipping the peanut butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. You don't want pockets of peanut butter or lumps of cream cheese in the mousse so make sure it's fully combined. It should be light and airy, but it still won't be light enough to pass as mousse, which is why I add it to the whipped cream. Make sure you fold the two together gently to avoid deflating either component.

The chocolate sauce is just as easy to make. All you have to do is whisk more cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla together, bring it to a simmer, and stir in some chocolate. It creates a thick, shiny sauce packed with chocolate flavor that you'll want to eat on everything.

To assemble the pie, pour the mousse into the cooled crust, swirl in some chocolate sauce, and top with roasted peanuts and mini chocolate chips. If I'm really craving chocolate, sometimes I'll pour some of the sauce into the crust before the mousse so there's a nice fudgy layer hidden beneath. For aesthetic purposes, I'll also drizzle more sauce on top, so it may be worth making a double batch of the sauce. In fact, go ahead and make a double batch of everything because this pie will go fast!

1 1/6 Cups Heavy Cream
2 T Light Brown Sugar
2 T Corn Syrup
1 T Cocoa Powder
Pinch Salt
2 tsp Vanilla
2 oz Chocolate Chips
1/3 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
3/4 Cup + 2 T Powdered Sugar
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Chopped Roasted Salted Peanuts
1 Recipe Chocolate Pie Crust, Baked in a 9" Pie Pan (See Below)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip 1 cup of heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks. Stir in 2 T powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the cream cheese, ¾ cup powdered sugar, and peanut butter. Fold into the whipped cream and pour into the crust.

Whisk the remaining cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, cocoa, salt, and remaining vanilla together in a small pot. Bring to a simmer, then stir in chocolate chips. Turn off heat and let sit until cool. Pour half onto the pie and swirl in.

Chill until set, then sprinkle on the mini chocolate chips and peanuts. Drizzle with remaining sauce.

For the Crust:
1 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Cocoa
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Stick Butter, Chilled
1 Egg Yolk

Pulse the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until small pieces remain. Combine the egg yolk with a tablespoon of cold water and add in. Pulse until it begins to form a ball, adding more water as necessary. Chill.

Heat oven to 375F. Grease a sheet of foil, then press onto the tart pan. Fill with pie weights and bake until firm, 25 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, then bake until golden, about 5 minutes. Cool.

Makes 1 9" Pie
Recipe Adapted from The Neelys and Bon Appetit

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