creamy peanut butter pie
Like the rest of the food blogging community, I was shocked and horrified by the news that Jennifer Perillo’s husband, Mikey, passed away quite unexpectedly of a heart attack last Sunday. My jaw dropped and tears streamed down my face when I read Jennifer’s twitter feed that day, which went from counting down the days to their vacation to “He’s gone. And my heart is shattered in a million pieces.”
I can’t begin to imagine the pain of losing your spouse so suddenly like that. It’s my biggest fear. To lose Joseph would be to lose my heart and my soul. I don’t know how I would breath.
The week has been filled with tear inducing, gut wrenching reminders of how fragile life is. After the initial news there was a video of Mikey’s “last dance” with one of their two daughters. As Mikey dances around the room with his little girl, I can’t help but think of what they don’t yet know and I want to tell them to cherish these moments and hold on to each other and never, ever let go.
I will never know how Jennifer mustered the strength to get on her computer and write about her last date with her husband and about how she lost him so suddenly without getting to say goodbye. The food community has been pouring out their support and wanted to know how they could help and Jennifer responded, “For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”
I’ve never met Jennifer or Mikey, but my heart won’t stop aching for her loss. Jennifer gave me one of my all time favorite recipes and making this pie was the very least I could do.
But I was cranky yesterday. I watched people slip out of the office one by one on that beautiful Friday afternoon and grumbled to myself about how I was still there. I didn’t get home from work until after 8:30 the night before and hadn’t had time to go to the store, so as soon as I left the office on Friday I ran to the grocery to pick up the ingredients I needed. I rushed home and started barking orders to Joseph in the kitchen. We wanted to be able to take pictures while the sun was still up to get the best shots. I was frazzled and my anger and frustration started to spill over and Joseph, poor Joseph, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I caught myself – later than I would have liked – and reminded myself of the entire point of this pie. The photos could wait. We hugged each other tightly and put the pie in the fridge for the next day.
It’s a reminder of just how hard it is to remember what matters most in life and to live your life accordingly. Cherish every moment and hold on to your loved ones and never, ever let go. This pie is for Jennifer, Lauren, Sarah B., and Sarah E. and everyone else who has lost their partner far too young. You are in my thoughts and I wish you peace and comfort with all of my heart.
Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
From Jennifer Perillo
My springform pan is 10 inches instead of 9 and it probably would have worked anyway, but I decided to just make it in a regular deep pie dish. You’ll have a little extra peanut filling to eat by the spoonful. I also used chocolate graham crackers instead of chocolate cookies. If you go that route, add more butter (I didn’t add enough) to counter the dryness of the graham crackers.
- 8 ounces chocolate cookies
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
- Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
- Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.
Number of servings: 10-12