365 days ago I published my first Baguette Taste – Wonder Bread Budget post. When this blog was only an idea, something I hesitantly talked about, Jujus said go for it. Since then my friends, family, and all of the wonderful new people I’ve met have been a driving force for my recipes and stories.
Here’s to Jujus, who encourages me to dream big daily; my family, who reads, critiques, and edits my work with patience; Lara Louise, my Seattle food partner in crime, constant cheerleader, and loyal friend; my friends (especially members of my Saint Mary’s MFA crowd), who have challenged me to find creative ways to feed people; Ares, for his incredible help with all things computer related; and all the new blog friends I have made, your recipes and stories give me delicious, fresh ideas.
So Happy Blogaversary. I am glad you’ve all joined me. Sharing my food and bites of life with you is like an expansion of my kitchen table and I love having people at my kitchen table. Happy Blogaversary. I am so glad you are here.
To celebrate, I am sharing a family favorite. This is a recipe as rich and delightful as all of you. Years ago my parents stopped at The ARK, a small restaurant on the Washington coast, which has sadly closed. As they sat down their waitress asked if they’d like to reserve a slice of pie. There was only one left. I don’t know who this woman is, but she deserves a standing ovation. She should be showered in all things chocolaty, salty, and rich with cream. For without her, I may never have had Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.
One bite of this pie and my mom put down her fork, called the waitress over, and bought the cookbook. Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie is the only recipe we make from the old book, bound by plastic rings. The recipe’s two pages are marked with stains as all well loved cookbooks should be. There’s a small handwritten note by the ingredients, where my mom informs you one box of chocolate wafers is more than enough for three crusts. Those of us in the know, cut the sugar in half. But, I can tell you from personal experience, you don’t want to substitute Half N Half for the whipping cream.
This pie has celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and “just becauses.” It’s the biggest peanut butter cup I have ever seen and certainly the richest one I’ve ever tasted. I played around with small bite sized versions of this pie, but it’s meant to be big. This isn’t a refined desert. It’s messy. The slices rarely come out clean and frequently you’ll find someone running their fingers over their plate.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
From The Ark, Cuisine of the Pacific Northwest by Jimella Lucas & Nanci Main
Serves 10 to 12
We like to use a food processor for the crust. It’s the easiest way to crush the graham crackers and chocolate wafers. If you don’t have one, place them in a sealed plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
The rum is optional, but I think it adds a great depth of flavor. If you don’t drink rum, check out the single serving bottles at your local liquor store. I recognize this recipe is on the expensive side, but with the exception of the cream cheese, whipping cream, and butter, each item is a pantry item, which means you can buy them slowly as they go on sale.
¾ cup crushed Graham Crackers
¾ cup crushed chocolate wafers
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp mace
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (pre-ground works too)
¼ cup coarsely chopped almonds (peanuts are an optional substitute, but I prefer almonds for the crust)
¼ cup melted butter
1 TBS dark run (optional)
1 TBS vanilla
Combine Graham Crackers, chocolate wafers, sugar, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and almonds. In another bowl, combine butter, rum, and vanilla. Mix two combinations together.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with 1¾ cups of the crust mixture.
Note: Save the rest of the crust for topping ice cream or eat with spoon immediately. (I like to eat immediately.)
8 oz softened cream cheese
½ cup sugar (The original recipe calls for 1 cup, but we cut it in half because the full cup is way too sweet)
1 cup creamy peanut butter (chunky works too, which is what we use)
2 TBS melted butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 TBS vanilla
Whip cream cheese until fluffy, scraping bowl often. Slowly add sugar, peanut butter, and melted butter.
Whip whipping cream and vanilla until firm.
Blend 1/3 of whipped cream into peanut butter mixture. Fold peanut butter mixture into remaining whipped cream until thoroughly incorporated. Fill pie crust, smoothing top. Chill in a refrigerator.
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 TBS butter
2 TBS salad oil (vegetable oil)
¼ cup chopped nuts (optional, we use peanuts, but you could use almonds or mixed nuts too)
Melt chocolate, butter, and oil in a double boiler, stirring frequently.
Note: A double boiler is a pot filled half way with simmering water and a glass bowl placed on top. The bottom of the bowl should be an inch from the water, not touching it. You can also melt the chocolate topping in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval just until melted.
Spread chocolate mixture on cooled peanut butter filling, starting from the center and working out.
Sprinkle top with nuts. Chill pie thoroughly.