During my medical school Nutrition Block, I have eaten far fewer fruits and vegetables than I normally do and I think it is because I’m counting the sheer volume of Powerpoint slides on “healthy choices” toward my daily servings. After being reminded for several hours how important it is to minimize sugar and saturated fat, the Forbidden Fruit phenomena kicks in when I get home–and–I go and make a peanut butter pie, which not only tastes incredible, but on these dark subzero Minnesota days, also gives me emotional Vitamin D in the form of what Seamus Heaney calls “coagulated sunlight.” Nutrition, I believe, comes in many forms. This pie is like a soul vitamin.
Peanut Butter Pie
Adapted from Food and Wine Oct 2013
8 ounces peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butters (I got knock offs at Target for cheap—Nutter Butters are pricey, go figure)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the cookies with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until finely ground. Scrape the cookies into a 9-inch pie plate. Stir in the melted butter, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until the crumbs are the texture of wet sand; you may not need to use all of the butter. Using your fingers, press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the side of the pie plate. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool on a rack.
In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter with the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix until thoroughly blended. In another bowl, whip 3/4 cup of the heavy cream until stiff. Whisk the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Spread the peanut butter filling in the crust in an even layer. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
In the same whipped-cream bowl, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar with the vanilla until stiff. Spread the whipped cream over the pie. Sprinkle the pie with the chopped peanuts (if you want, I thought that a little excessive on the theme) cut into slices and serve.
One could imagine an adult-version of the Stanford Marshmallow Test (classic experiment on four year olds to test for early evidence of willpower, possibly a predictor of future success) with this pie. Gratification well worth the delay. I’m pretty sure Izzy would fail. Quickly.