This peanut butter cream pie might just go down in the history of my entire college career as the best thing I ever baked – and I’ve baked A LOT of seriously tasty eats in my humble university-provided kitchens over the years.
How good is this pie, exactly? Allow me to answer this question by describing some of the reactions and consequential events that have happened in the mere hours since my roommates and I finally tasted this peanut butter masterpiece:
- At least one roommate was nearly moved to tears because she didn’t know a peanut butter cream pie could taste this good (I actually thought they were kidding at first, until I finally took a bite myself and then half the house just started getting greedy – I’m talking cleaned-their-plates-and-began-to-attack-other-plates-that-were-still-full-and-being-eaten greedy).
- I’ve reported to several family members that we no longer need to purchase a peanut butter cream pie from the much-beloved Baker’s Square (anyone from the Cleveland area know about this gem of a place??) whenever a craving hits – and that’s saying a lot; their pies – especially their peanut butter one (and the french silk and Oreo pies – but I’ll tackle those another time!) are out-of-this-world amazing.
- In only 5 short hours since pulling this pie out of the fridge and serving it up, only one-fourth of it is still standing. And we feel no shame.
- This pie quickly became a valuable bartering tool between our house and another – in exchange for half of this pie, my roommates and I can now look forward to a home cooked meal starring some seriously tasty ribs later in the week – SCORE. Can I just take a brief moment to complain about how expensive meat is, especially on a meager college student’s budget?? Needless to say, Rowing Gentlemen – if you’re reading, please be forewarned: I’mma gonna eat a lot of ribs… like, a lot a lot (just a head’s up).
In case you need anymore convincing to treat yo’self and make this pie, then perhaps the following layer-by-layer breakdown of this peanut butter cream pie will confirm for you what I already know is true (that this is the best peanut butter cream pie ever.)
First, you’ve got the crust – but not just any old cookie or graham cracker crust. No, no. This is a chocolate-covered pretzel crust. Pretzels, butter, peanut butter, a bit of sugar – all baked up to crispy, crumbly perfection and then coated with melted chocolate. I’m only on the first layer and you already know this pie is going to be a good one, right?
Sitting directly on top of that salty-sweet chocolate coated crust is a nice, thick layer of fudgey peanut butter chocolate ganache. The salty-sweet combo is definitely going strong in this dessert – and it’s only made better by the most amazing peanut butter cream filling I think I’ll ever taste in my whole life.
This layer – the peanut butter cream – is the peanut butter cream of my dreams. It’s so fluffy and light I think it’s actually best described as more of a mousse. And for those of you who don’t already know this, allow me to enlighten you of the joyful bliss of eating crunchy pretzels + fudgey chocolate ganache + airy peanut butter mousse through this pie – the combination of flavors and textures are truly something to behold here.
And lets not forget about the crown of whipped cream adorning this chocolate-and-peanut-butter-drizzled beauty, which itself is of course drizzled with even more chocolate and peanut butter and then topped with chopped up peanut butter cups and chocolate shavings. Did I go overboard with the garnishes? Perhaps… but if ever there existed a dessert deserving of such spectacular garnish-overload, this is it.
Basically, this pie not only takes full advantage of salty-and-sweet, crunchy-fudgey-moussey, and chocolate-and-peanut-butter, it can also make loved ones (almost) cry, exceed impossibly high expectations set by the legendary pie-makers at Baker’s Square, and can even be effectively used as a bartering tool for meat (and perhaps even currency in other settings… maybe…).
If you have a peanut butter-lover in your life (feel free to include yourself) or a houseful of peanut butter-loving rowing boys who know how to make really really good ribs, then look no further for your next source of kitchen inspiration.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie with a Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Crust
Makes 1 very large, very tall 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie
For the crust:
3 cups pretzel crumbs (finely ground, like you would with graham crackers for a graham cracker crust)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup (heaping) creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
For the chocolate peanut butter ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
3 heaping Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
For the peanut butter cream:
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping/garnishes:
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, melted
1/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, melted
1/2 cup mini peanut butter cups, halved/roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the pretzel crumbs and sugar. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and peanut butter together; add to the pretzel crumbs and stir with a fork until evenly mixed throughout. Press the mixture in a 9- or 10-inch springform pan all over the bottom and up the sides to the rim, packing firmly and evenly. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Allow the pan to cool on a wire rack until it’s room temperature. After it’s cooled down, melt the chocolate and pour over the bottom of the crust. Using the back of a spoon or an off-level icing spatula, evenly spread the melted chocolate into an even layer. (*I tried melting an additional 1/2 cup of chocolate to spread along the sides of the crust, as well – it did NOT work out well!! The crust kept crumbling and pulling away from the pan. If you want to go this route, then consider adding an additional 4 Tablespoons of melted butter to the crust before pressing into the pan and baking so it holds together more firmly.)
Move the pan to the fridge so the chocolate coating hardens while you prepare the peanut butter ganache.
In a small saucepan, add the cream and heat over medium until it just begins to boil. Immediately turn off the heat and add the peanut butter and chocolate. Swirl the pan to ensure the chocolate is fully submerged in the cream and let stand for 3 minutes. Whisk beginning in the center of the pan and then gradually working your way to the outer edges of the pan, whisking until smooth and thick. Set aside to cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then whisk briskly for several minutes to cool the ganache down further and lighten it up a bit (it will still be warm and have a thick, but still pourable consistency).
Pull the crust out of the fridge and pour the ganache over the bottom. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the ganache into an even layer (making sure it reaches the edges of the crust) and then move back to the fridge while you make the peanut butter cream filling.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream and the powdered sugar using an electric mixer, beginning on low speed and gradually increasing the speed to high as it thickens; beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a separate bowl and set aside.
In the same bowl you whipped the cream and sugar, beat the the cream cheese, peanut butter, and vanilla until smooth (no need to clean the mixer beaters!) – the mixture will be very thick, so don’t aim to achieve a light and fluffy consistency just yet. To this, add about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream and beat for about 2 minutes until the mixture is lighter. Add half of the the remaining whipped cream to the mixture and fold in using a rubber spatula until it’s almost fully incorporated. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream just until fully incorporated (avoid over-folding to ensure the texture stays light, fluffy, and mousse-like). Pour the filling into the crust over the ganache layer and smooth the top. Set aside in the fridge as you prepare the topping.
In the same mixing bowl, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla together until it reaches stiff, but soft peaks. Over the top of the pie (so on top the peanut butter cream layer), drizzle the melted peanut butter and chocolate decoratively and in alternating directions – I like to transfer them to piping bags (or zip-lock bags transformed into piping bags, rather) to keep the lines neater. Dollop the whipped cream all around the border of the pie (I just used a 1/4-cup measuring cup to do this) and drizzle more chocolate and peanut butter on top of the whipped cream. Then sprinkle the chopped peanut butter cups and chocolate shavings on top of the cream border and transfer the pie to the fridge to set up for at least 6 hours before slicing and serving.
Recipe for the pretzel crust adapted from Yammie’s Noshery