Monday, October 31, 2011

Blue Ribbon Peanut Butter Pie


This pie is no ordinary pie. It’s a magic pie that has quietly weaved its way into the fibers of my life. This pie comes with a story, rather several. I have no idea when the recipe came into my family or why… this makes me think, next visit with my mom its time to shake up a martini, snuggle up on the couch and hear the very beginnings of the legend of the peanut butter pie. For all of you, I will share my personal experiences with this pie, in what will be my most lengthy post ever. It was 1984, I was two years old and living in Irvine, CA with my family (naturally) my mom entered a peanut butter pie in the Orange County fair along with my dad entering his banana bread. That year, my mom won first place, the coveted blue ribbon prize, but more famous out of that year’s competition was my dad’s entry of his banana bread. That was the year my dad won second place, second place with a tiny little note written by a tiny little old lady, the note written in shaky scrawl: “your nuts are too small;” this preference of larger nuts from the little old lady sure prompted a roaring laugh from my parents. My parents had their ribbons framed with the “Wild n’ Wooly” sheep promotion poster for that year at the fair. It has hung in every house we have ever lived in and the story of the little old lady and the unfavorably small nuts has always been an accompanying, rather hilarious story, along with the with the honor of the blue ribbon winning peanut butter pie. The pie continued to make appearances in my life, particularly the smell of the meringue topping with peanut butter always brings back memories of long drives to visit my parent’s dearest friends, Elaine and Jim. Jim loved my mom’s pie and every time she would go visit she had two traditions, bringing a peanut butter pie for Jim and a bottle of champagne for she and Elaine, their tradition was to paint their nails and drink champagne while catching up. We made countless trips up to their ranch house throughout my childhood, great memories of running through acres of orange and avocado trees, returning indoors to have a slice of the deliciously peanut butter goodness. Jim and Elaine ended up sadly passing away, my parents lost two of their dearest friends and their three children, bordering adulthood had to tread through a torturous time. The peanut butter pie recipe was tucked away for a while and on a hiatus while hearts healed. Then one day, years later, I was invited to my dear friend’s home for a BBQ while in college. We were roommates sharing a student housing apartment at UCLA with two delightful foreign exchange students from Korea and Japan. I wanted to bring her parents something different so I called my mom and got the peanut butter pie recipe. We all packed into her car and made the trek to Orange County, four 21 year old young women. On the drive, the smell of the pie drove us crazy with hunger. Somehow, someone accidentally poked their finger through the meringue of the pie. I had a tiny freak out, and while trying to fix the damage we somehow all started taking little bites of the pie. Pick by pick the pie disappeared and then it hit us, the four of us, ate a whole pie with just our hands, covered in sticky meringue and crumbs we suspiciously pulled off the freeway to rid ourselves of all evidence. We were so embarrassed and made a pact to secrecy. I cant remember if I went empty handed or ended up picking up a bottle of wine on the way, but Ashley and I still often say to one and other “remember that time we ate a WHOLE pie with our bare hands in the CAR!?!?!” A couple more years passed, Ashley moved out of Los Angeles to get her PhD at Duke (yes, my friend is an incredible, talented, psychology genius who will change the world) and the peanut butter pie laid dormant yet again. One day, out of the blue about a week before Ashley’s birthday, I got an e-mail from one of Ashley’s dearest friends at Duke; I had never met her before but had known of her through Ashley. In the e-mail she said she wanted to make Ashley the peanut butter pie for her birthday, she had heard so much about it. She ever so politely asked for the recipe and tips on baking it. This was by far one of the sweetest things I have ever known someone to do for a birthday, I was so touched to pass on the recipe of the pie the very pie Ashley and I laugh about so often. The pie recipe again went untouched for some time through diets and seasons, but I always had it tucked away in the back of my mind for something special.
 Todd jokingly says it was the peanut butter pie that won his heart. What other great stories might this pie provide? Perhaps you should try it and see... 
*** I used the ugly pie tin because I was taking the pie to a party, so I could just throw it away when it was done***


Blue Ribbon Peanut Butter Pie
3/4 cup of powered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy of your preference
1 baked 9" pie shell or pie crust from scratch of your liking
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups of whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 T sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix powdered sugar and peanut butter together until crumbs form (I think it is easiest using a fork). Cover bottom of pastry shell with crumbs, reserving 3 T. for top. Mix together 1/2 cup of sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Beat egg yolks and add milk, stir. Add to saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and boil one minute stirring constantly, careful not to burn. Stir in vanilla and cool, spoon mixture into pie crust. In a clean, dry bowl, beat egg whites until foamy and add sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over the top of the pie. Top/sprinkle with remaining peanut butter crumb mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool and serve.

To make it with chocolate:
Follow above recipe adding:
1 chocolate 9’ pie crust or homemade (6 oz of chocolate wafers in the food processor, mix in 2 T of butter, press into pie dish, bake at 350 for 8 minutes)
6 oz of chocolate (I recommend dark or semi sweet to make a thicker ganache but my favorite is milk chocolate so I’m often playing around with that)
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

Heat heavy whipping cream in a saucepan on medium heat, stir often, making sure that the cream does not scorch. Bring to a simmer and simmer for one minute wile stirring quickly. Remove from heat. Pour over chocolate, set aside and let it melt, about 5 minutes. Give the chocolate a good stir, set aside to cool. While assembling the pie, pour pudding mixture in to the pie shell, spread cool ganache in a thick top layer over the pudding, don’t mix, leave this layered. Place meringue on top, peanut butter crumbles and bake for 5 minutes at 425. Let cool, 20 minutes, and then move to refrigerator to chill.
This pie also freezes well, and I recommend freezing it if you plan to travel with it, it does not travel well as is.

1 comment:

  1. I love this pie! I love this story! I love this blog! :)
    I'm so gonna have to make it with the chocolate next time!