Friday, August 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Crack Pie - with a purpose~

There are moments I wish I could freeze:

Years ago, when they announced my husband and I, we ran into the Wedding Reception together holding hands, heads tossed back laughing and dancing with joy that we were now married without a care in the world (haha.)

Peanut Butter Crack Pie

When my kids were first born those early morning feedings were so quiet. The sun would just be peeking through the blinds and the only sound was the murmuring hum of a happy fed baby (sigh.)

When the whole family gets together now (the kids are all teens or older) at some point there will be a cacophony of laughter (often at my expense). The entire house is filled with a fugue of snorts, howls and giggles. I love when the napkins of our meal end up being the same ones to wipe away rolling tears of laughter.
Those times are etched in my heart. I don't take them for granted, yet a reminder to close my eyes and whisper a giant Thank You came this week.
The best thing about the whole "virtual world" of twitter and face book, blogging and vlogging is the community it builds. To some this may sound weird, that a sense of friendship and support could come from what appears to be just a "time sucking device" or a pretend world of gimmicky names and facades.Like in real life, I'm sure there are equal amounts of truth and lies in the virtual world, too. However, one of the reasons I keep food blogging, and connecting online is about the sincere community that I have experienced.

I read a twitter this past weekend, by the talented writer/recipe developer and mom, Jennifer Perillo that simply said, "He's gone. And my heart is shattered in a million pieces." It stopped me in my tracks. It was so full, so simply painful. Only a day earlier she had quipped about making marinara sauce and planning for a family vacation.

As the story evolved, I learned that her husband had died - suddenly from a heart attack. Jennifer touched base online in the next few days with her thoughts and on her blog (In Jennie's Kitchen) with her story of love and pain. In the midst of her own challenges of coping with loss and her two young daughters, she drew the online community to her table. She fed us with inspiration and example. She led many of us to take a moment to think of those we care about, to reflect on those times we wish we could freeze (because we can't), and to be thankful.
Jennie's request was to honor the people you care about, and in symbolic memory of her husband (Mikey), make his favorite pie (Peanut Butter Pie) and share it with someone else. It might seem like a silly thing to some, but for people who love feeding others it is a communal gesture of support.My husband's birthday was recently and his favorite pie is my Nutella Crack Pie. It's a sweet dense pie that definitely must be shared to avoid eating too much on your own. My sweetheart is a cut-up and a comedy writer so he doesn't miss a chance to make us laugh. He came downstairs dressed in stage clothes and clowning around. This time the laughing-out-loud started even earlier. We always finish our birthday celebrations by singing and clapping to~ "skip around the room, skip around the room, we won't shut-up 'til you skip around the room." And we will NOT shut up 'til the birthday person skips around the room (even in a restaurant).

My way of serving u
p a tribute to Jennie's strength, Mikey's memory and a wish for happiness and peace to her daughters was to combine the request for a Peanut Butter Pie with my husband's favorite pie. I developed the Peanut Butter Crack Pie. I don't remember ever preparing anything with as much purpose, sense of time and reason, and held-back tears as I did with this pie. A simple request to make a pie from a talented woman struggling with personal loss turned into many many people taking pause to be grateful. That is powerful. That is real. That is truth. Hug, feed, write, call or remember someone you love today. I can't freeze the moments, but I can treasure the memories in my heart.

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Crack Pie

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Crust:

2/3 cup Flour
3 Tbls. Cocoa

1/8 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup oats

1 stick softened butter (4 oz.)

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 Tbls. sugar

1 large egg

1) In a bowl, sift in the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2) In a mixing bowl beat butter til creamy, add sugars and continue to beat til fluffy.

3) Add egg and beat until well incorporated.

4) Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter just until mixed well. Then, stir in oats.

5) Spread onto a silpat covered baking sheet (or parchment lined) and bake in a preheated 375F oven for 12-18 minutes (until firm). Let cool, then crumble well for the crust.

1/2 - 2/3 stick butter softened (2-3oz)

1 1/2 Tbls. brown sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1) In a bowl combine the cookie crumbs with the butter, sugar and salt well. Work in with your fingertips (until it will clump when you squeeze it.)

2) Press the crust into a pie shell or tart pan (about 6x12, or 9inch round). Press down well (the bottom of a cup can help to press the shell firmly.) Hold while you prepare the filling.

Peanut Butter Crack Filling:

1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 3 Tbls. brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup Nonfat Dry Milk
2 Tbls. butter
1 cup Organic Smooth Peanut Butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
8 egg yolks
*powdered sugar and cocoa mixed for garnish*

1) Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugars, dry milk and salt.
2) Whisk in Peanut Butter, butter, cream and vanilla on low speed.
3) Whisk in egg yolks on low speed until combined well. It will be very loose.
4) Pour into the pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325F and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes until the center is not so liquid.
It may still have a bit of jiggle.
5) Cool and refrigerate.

** The chilling part is crucial to this pie turning out well and it is best served cold**

This is a very dense, thick pie and the original Crack Pie was eaten by many with spoons right out of the pan. :D

Enjoy with friends, family and strangers. Let me take this moment to say Thank You for stopping by. Sending you love :D


Jenni said...

A beautiful post. It's amazing than when we completely attend to making something, instead of just tossing something together while talking on the phone and shoo-ing the cat away from the stove with one foot, the food just tastes better. We really do pour love into what we make.

I sincerely hope that Jennie feels all the love and support that is being showered on her and her girls right now at this sad, sad time.

PS Yes, I would like some crack pie. Thank you. :)

GeoKaren said...

very nice Cathy - I didn't have the heart to blog but hubby got a saskatoon berry pie. Though I have not yet been married 2 months, we have been through hell together and he is my rock, my life.


Danielle said...

This is such a beautiful post Cathy, and I love the idea of a Nutella crack pie ;) Hugs to you and yours! xo

Nancy said...

Hi Cathy!!

Beautifully written post Cathy - loved the pics of your family sharing the crack pie - which BTW looks and sounds fantastic!

It's been WAY TO LONG since I've stopped by here!

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

Beautiful words and a loving story of your own experience. I think we are all looking for solace today...and sharing our pies with friends, family and the world even. Thank you for yours; sound delicious.

myFudo said...

nice post cathy. Love the photos.. the cake looks great.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for touching my heart every day with your many talents and tremendous, joyful spirit. I love you forever.


stampedconcrete said...

like your post .. thanks for sharing .. looks so delicious .. yummy ..

Lucie said...

How special and appropriate that you made a variation on your husband's favorite pie. This was an especially thoughtful, kind post and I loved reading it. The pie looks good, too : )

Unknown said...

PLEASE tell me what the amount of Brown sugar is in the last part [filing]... 3/3 cup?? I am baking the crust right now, and just noticed the 'error'???


showfoodchef said...

Thanks for finding that, Mike. The filling is pretty forgiving, and hopefully you got my message and yours turned out delicious. I appreciate you stopping by. :D

Unknown said...

I found your recipe for the Nutella Crack pie... "guessed" at 2/3 c [close enough to 3/4, I hope!] It's chilling right now, and I'm having a small party tomorrow. My friends will be my "crash test dummies" for this one... I tasted the filling and don't see ANY problem with it!
Thanks again... I enjoy the posts.
Mike Ferguson, Virginia Beach, VA

Amrita said...

Beautifully written. I love it when dinner napkins turn into napins used to wipe tears of laughter off our ruddy faces! That's the best part about food, I think. :-)

Anonymous said...

What brand of Organic PB did you use, do you remember? Was it oily?

showfoodchef said...

Anonymous re: brand - it was from Whole Foods, maybe their brand or one they carry. Thx for stopping by.