The food blogosphere came together this week to support our own Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen and her young daughters, when the shocking news of her husband’s sudden passing hit us all like a slap in the face. And we did it in the best way we know how – with food. With peanut butter pies, to be exact.
You know, I don’t know how to speak about this kind of loss – the one-minute-he’s-here-and-the-next-minute-he’s-gone kind of loss. In my life, I’ve known several and it’s never any easier, because it never makes any sense. I’ve always said that there’s not much I believe in, but I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe in ultimate justice. You may not see it immediately – it may take weeks, months, or even years – but you will see it. Right now, I can’t fathom any rhyme nor reason, and those words seem hollow to me.
All I can say is, I’m so sorry for your loss, Jennie. All I can do is give you a virtual hug, and hope that you can read everything I feel for you in that seemingly lame gesture.
In response to the outpouring of love and questions of “What can we do for you?” from food bloggers all over the world, Jennie wrote, “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.”
Chances are, if you Google “peanut butter pie” from here on out, you’ll have literally hundreds of choices and just as many more eloquent tributes than this one.
Peanut Butter Cup Pie
(makes about 12 mini-pies)
8 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup cream (light or heavy)- divided
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg (room temperature)
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 300º F.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until it’s smooth and fluffy. Add the brown sugar, then the peanut butter, 1/4 cup of the cream, salt, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition. Last, add the egg and beat until the entire mixture is smooth. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, and stir until the chocolate is smooth and glossy.
Prepare a muffin pan by lining it with foil or silicone cupcake liners. If using foil liners, give each one a small shot of cooking spray.
Using a dessert spoon, place a heaping spoonful of the chocolate mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Now, spoon the pie batter over the chocolate, filling each cup about 2/3 full.
Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. The batter should still jiggle just a bit when the pan is shaken. Allow the pan and pies to cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least several hours.
When cold and firm, flip each pie over onto individual plates and unmold to serve. Allow to warm for about 10 minutes, to get a really soft creamy texture.
Too many for one sitting? After chilling, leave them in the liners, pop into a freezer storage bag, and put them in the freezer. You can thaw just the amount you need in the future!
I couldn’t make my peanut butter pies for Mikey and Jennifer Perillo on Friday, because my own Mikey was having oral surgery. In deference to his sore mouth, I skipped the crust and my beloved chunky peanut butter, and resisted the temptation to garnish with chopped peanuts. I promise you – the hugs were no less fierce.