Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie FINAL

We’ve been experiencing uncomfortably high temperatures (and insanely high humidity) for the last several weeks in central Europe, meaning I’ve had no desire whatsoever to turn on my oven and get baking. That doesn’t mean, of course, that my notorious appetite for all things chocolate diminished in the slightest. Far from it! I was into my collection of no-bake dessert recipes within minutes of temps topping 90 degrees last week.

This pie has a very special place in my heart, as it’s been my dad’s favorite for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can scarcely remember a birthday or Father’s Day celebration in my childhood in which it didn’t make a welcome appearance. The filling is rich and creamy, cradled in a delicate chocolate cookie crust and topped with drizzled chocolate sauce and grated dark chocolate. I took it a step further (maybe too far?) on this occasion with the addition of chopped miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. A word of warning: this pie is not for the faint of heart … or dieters … or diabetics … but is definitely worth a try if you’ve got a peanut butter lover in your midst!

Note: If you’d like to craft a lower-fat version of this pie, use 1/3-fat cream cheese, reduced or low-fat sweetened condensed milk, reduced fat peanut butter and fat-free Cool Whip. I’ve made both versions and the flavor variations are minimal.

Enjoy!

 

PEANUT BUTTER PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Yield | 8 to 10 servings

 

  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (approximately 30 crushed cookies)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbsp finely granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly whipped cream
  • 1 to 2 tsp chocolate syrup, to serve
  • 1 ounce grated dark chocolate, to serve

 

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, melted chocolate and sugar. Press firmly and evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Chill crust for 30 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter, blending for 1 minute. On low speed, add lemon juice and vanilla extract, blending until just combined.
  3. Remove bowl from electric mixer and gentle fold in freshly whipped cream. Pour pie filling into the chilled chocolate cookie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. To serve, drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate, if desired.

 

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Rustic Apple Galette

Rustic Apple Galette

Happy first day of Fall, baking gods and goddesses!

The first dessert feature of the season goes to this rustic apple galette: a free-form, crusty tart filled with lightly sweetened apples. I found the recipe – originally contributed by the legendary Jacques Pépin and Grace Parisi – in the September 2003 edition of Food & Wine magazine. I made only minor variations (because seriously, you don’t fool around with a Pépin creation!), and absolutely LOVE the result. With buttery, flaky crust and insanely delicious filling, this tart is already lodged in my ‘make this again ASAP’ folder!

A couple of notes: first, this is – HANDS DOWN – the best and easiest pie crust I’ve ever made. I’ve experimented with dozens of recipes over the past decade, and this one beats them all by leaps and bounds. The dough is incredibly easy to assemble and manipulate (there’s no chilling required!), and bakes up like an absolute dream! Second, I highly recommend following Pépin and Parisi’s instruction to use Golden Delicious apples. As the picture above indicates, I used Granny Smiths – this was an unfortunate mistake. While they hold up well to baking, I found them slightly too tart for this recipe. If you aren’t able to find Golden Delicious at your local grocer or farmer’s market (as I wasn’t), substitute with a sweeter variety like Honeycrisp, Mutsu or Pink Lady.

This galette is heaven served warm with vanilla bean ice cream. If you’d like to make ahead or have leftovers (good luck!), the baked tart can be stored overnight at room temperature and reheated in a 325 degree Fahrenheit (160 degree Celsius) oven. Enjoy!

RUSTIC APPLE GALETTE

Yield | 6 servings

Inspiration | Food & Wine

  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), + 2 tbsp, melted
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • 3 1/2 tbsp finely granulated sugar
  • 4 large Golden delicious apples (peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices)
  1. In a large food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups flour with the salt. Add the cold butter and process just until the butter is the size of peas (approximately 5 seconds). Sprinkle with ice water and process just until moistened (approximately 5 seconds). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a disk and roll into a 16- or 17-inch round approximately 1/4-inch thick.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to the parchment. (Rolling the dough around your rolling pin helps considerably with this step!)
  3. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and sprinkle over the dough. Arrange the apple slices on top in overlapping concentric circles to within approximately 3 inches of the edge. Fold the dough over the apples in a free-form fashion. Brush the apples with the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Refrigerate the unbaked tart for 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Bake the tart in the center of the oven for 1 hour, or until the apples are tender and golden and the crust is deep golden and cooked through. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack and let the tart cool slightly before serving.

*Re-posted from my old blog, Cucina Fresca*

Lemon Shortbread Tart

Lemon Shortbread Tart

Happy first week of Spring, baking gods and goddesses!

For so many reasons, Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love rain showers, adore the sweet sound of chirping birds, and delight in the arrival of the year’s first blooms and blossoms. I also get positively giddy as some of my favorite fruits and vegetables come into season, livening up my culinary repertoire with new colors, tastes, and textures. Before bidding farewell to citrus season – which, despite their association with heat and summer, is actually during the winter months – I must must must make this recipe.  I’ve had my mind (and eye) on this bright, beautiful lemon tart for months, but for some reason have held off making it until this very week. Holy cow – it was SO worth the wait!

Very reminiscent of lemon snow bars (also known as lemon squares), this recipe pairs a soft, sweet shortbread crust with a smooth, tart, very lemony filling. Everything about it is absolutely perfect – it’s easy to assemble, looks beautiful, and tastes heavenly. I can’t recommend it more highly; my co-workers even proclaimed it “the best thing [I’ve] ever made”.  Bake it NOW, and enjoy!

LEMON SHORTBREAD TART

Inspiration: AllRecipes.com

Yields: 1 tart (16 servings)

For shortbread crust:

  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For lemon filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 large fresh eggs
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp confectioner’s sugar (optional)

To make crust:

  1. Combine butter, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer; mix ingredients thoroughly with a paddle attachment. Mix flour into butter mixture to make a smooth dough. Press dough into a 9-inch tart pan; refrigerate crust for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
  3. Bake crust until light golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

To make filling:

  1. Whisk sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup flour in a bowl until smooth. Pour lemon filling into hot crust. Cover edges of crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent burning.
  2. Bake tart until filling is set, about 20-30 minutes. Cool completely and dust with confectioners’ sugar (if desired).

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

Happy Pi Day, baking gods and goddesses!

I was SO tempted to make a sweet pie today – I have dozens of recipes I utterly adore – but decided to give a nod to St. Patrick’s Day next week and make this Irish classic instead. It was my first attempt at a savory pie, and I absolutely love the outcome! Mine is technically a cottage pie, as I substituted ground beef for lamb, but have left the original ingredients in the recipe below. Definitely use fresh herbs if you have them on hand – they really made all the difference in this pie’s flavor. Enjoy!

SHEPHERD’S PIE

Inspiration: Alton Brown’s Good Eats

Yields: 8 servings

For the potatoes:

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk

For the filling:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
  4. Add the peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.