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Our Pie for Mikey

August 15, 2011

Last week I signed into Twitter and my heart sank. I know nothing more about Jennifer Perillo than what she shares in 140 characters or less, yet my heart went out to her. As I came to the realization that she lost her husband, her best friend, the father of her two young daughters, I wanted to cry. Her pain was so fresh and so real: “He’s gone. And my heart is shattered in a million pieces.” I just wanted to reach through the blogosphere and hug her. How could I bring even the slightest bit of relief to this perfect stranger going through the worst time of her life?

Her request was simple: make a peanut butter pie and share it with the people you love. The recipe was her husband’s favorite and it was a wonderful way to pay tribute to a man that will surely be missed.

We made it together as a family, with a few breaks for dancing, at my 1 year old son’s request. If you asked me what my language of love would be, it would surely be cooking. Baking and cooking is how I show people that I love them, but never have I put more love into something than I did with this pie. As my husband and I took turns mixing together this delicious recipe, with my son looking on in wonderment with his tiny whisk and little bowl, I was so grateful for my family and our love.  My husband and I sat down to enjoy our pie, we clanged our forks together to toast a man we did not know, but who touched us none the less, and we knew in that moment how much we loved each other.  I think Jennifer’s mission was accomplished.

Here is her recipe, eloquently perfect:

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
Serves 10 to 12

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

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.

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