When left to my own devices, I would buy every book out there. Last summer, I think I spent over $100 each month on books which got me in a little spending crisis. Now, since I have limited funds and space, I only buy the books that really intrigue me. Those vying for a spot on my baking bookshelf have to meet my standards. They must be hardback, have a clean layout, contain lots of pictures, and be creative. None of this boring 1-2-3 baking crap; I want to feel the creativity coming out of the words and the pictures.
The cookbooks I buy and blogs that I follow are all about the actual creative pursuit and process. Your days don’t have to be boring if you spend your time doing things that make you think or smile. Furthermore, your creative work doesn’t have to be received with fanfare; simply completing what you set out to do is good enough. I used to have the mindset that the things weren’t worth doing unless it turned out perfect and got recognition for it. That frame of mind sets you up for failure because who is to decide what is good and what’s bad? Why not just enjoy the journey and the experience?
All of this talk brings me to Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito from the famed Baked bakery. I recently got their baking book from my local library and was blown away by this creative gem of a book. Filled with quirky illustrations, eye-catching typography, and unique recipes, it’s a feast for the eyes and the tummy. Your family, kids, and friends will be begging for you to make these desserts over and over again. Which can be dangerous considering this is bikini season and every morsel that grazes your lips ends up on your hips. But c’est la vie. Who can resist sour lemon scones, root beer bundt cake, bourbon chocolate pecan pie? I can’t.
The Baked boys impressed me with their straightforward approach to baking that reflects my own attitude: have fun, play around, and leave the frou-frou at the door. Let’s face it, I will never be that classically trained pastry chef who concocts great works of art; that’s not me. I lean towards the simple desserts that the everyday person can make. For the most part, I balance my indulgent treats with some whole-grain options as well. But let me warn you: this recipe is not of the whole-grain family.
It’s rich, deeply devastating, and a peanut-butter-lover’s dream. Life is meant to be lived and pie is meant to be devoured. Not just any pie. I’m talking about peanut butter cookie pie. Did you just die? Because I did.
A simple chocolate wafer cookie crust. A layer of melted semi-sweet chocolate. An enveloping creamy peanut butter filling. All topped off with a fool-proof hot fudge sauce. If there is a heaven, I want mine to only serve this pie. And maybe a glass of milk because you will need to wash down the chunks of pie you scarfed down. I don’t even like milk but I felt like chugging it down after eating this pie. And if you are looking at these photos and are wondering, where is the hot fudge sauce, the answer would be that I left it out. It seemed just a tad excessive, especially considering we were going out for burgers and beer prior to eating this pie. So I skimped on the sauce and crumbled some cookies instead. It tasted great without, but I think the melted hot fudge would have sent me in to blood sugar heaven.
I’m kind of lagging in the pie department. For some reason, pies intimidate me. Their seemingly easy filling and pie dough somehow frustrate me. But I don’t mind attempting no-bake pies, such as this one. Melt some butter, toss cookies in, make the filling and throw in your fridge/freezer. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am! Now that is my kind of pie. Other no-bake inspirations I am looking to replicate are Pioneer Woman’s Key Lime Pie, Bake or Break’s Peanut Butter Tart,and The Kitchen Sink’s Chocolate Cream Pie.
But before you go off and make those, please make this one. No, seriously, go make this one. Send your thank-you-cards to the Baked boys. The next time I’m in town, I’m heading their way.
Peanut Butter Pie
Origin: “Baked” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Yield: 10 to 12 slices
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours, or chill overnight
For the Chocolate Cookie Crust
● 6 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, (I used Trader Joe’s Chocolate Cat Cookies)
● 1 tbsp sugar
● 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the Peanut Butter filling
● 1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
● 1/2 tsp organic light corn syrup
● 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
● 1 cup creamy peanut butter
● 2 tbsp vanilla extract
● 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
● 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
For the easy Hot Fudge Sauce
● 6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
● 6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
● 1 cup heavy cream
● 1/4 cup organic light corn syrup
Make the chocolate cookie crust:
In a food processor, grind the cookies to a very fine powder. You should have about 1 1/2 cups. Put the crumbs in a bowl and stir in the sugar.
Pour the butter over the crumb mixture and mix until well combined. The mixture will feel wet. Turn the crumb mixture out into a 9-inch pie plate and press it into the bottom and up the sides. You can use the back of a large spoon to even out the crust.
Put the crust in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Make the peanut butter filling with chocolate bottom:
Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave oven or in a double broiler. Add the corn syrup and stir to combine. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate in a thin layer on the bottom of the chilled pie crust. Put the crust back in the refrigerator while you make the peanut butter filling.
Put the cream cheese, peanut butter, vanilla, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well combined and completely smooth. Set aside.
In a clean bowl, use the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to whip the cream until soft peaks form. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until the mixture is uniform in color.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Once the pie is frozen, you can cover it with aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 days.
Make the easy hot fudge sauce:
Place both chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Add he corn syrup and stir to combine. Remove form the heat and pour over the chocolates. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes. Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out to the edges, whisk the chocolate mixture in a circle until completely smooth. The hot fudge sauce, cooled to room temperature and covered tightly, will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator. Rewarm the sauce in a microwave oven on medium heat for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until the sauce is warm; or reheat it in a small saucepan over low heat.
Place a frozen piece of pie on a large serving plate and spoon 3 heaping tablespoons of the warm sauce directly over the top of the pie. Eat and enjoy immediately.