Introduction: Peanut Butter Ice Box Pie
Say what you will about Magnolia Bakery. The one thing I learned while living at the perplexing intersection of West 4th and West 12th streets, was that Magnolia made a mean slice of peanut butter pie. It was love at first bite. Within days, this pie became a staple of my diet. For a mere few dollars I could get a slice of pie that could stand in for just about any meal of the day (perhaps two). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it is by any means the healthiest meal of the day. A single slice probably contains about a million calories due to about five pounds of peanut butter, cream cheese and chocolate. It kind of hits like a brick to the head. Like I said, it is good stuff.
When I moved to California, I could no longer get such a refined delicacy. San Franciscans clearly know nothing of gourmet food. Fortunately, the Magnolia Bakery has a cookbook, and that cookbook has a recipe for their famous peanut butter pie. Unfortunately, as we learned the first time that we tried to make it, the recipe for peanut butter pie in the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook is utterly wrong. When I say "we" I actually mean "she." My girlfriend did most of the cooking and I did most of the "supervising." Anyhow, the pie they teach you to make in the cookbook came out pretty bad. It was light, creamy, and mild. It was not right at all.
My girlfriend is a wizard when it comes to over-analyzing things. So, this is the rare occasion where such skills proved useful. Rather than merely ranting about every fine detail that was wrong with the pie for a half-an-hour, she was able to deduce what would make the pie better. I was skeptical. It seemed the recipe was a total dud. Yet, a few months later, my birthday rolled around, and lo and behold, she pulled it off. She made a pie that was on par, if not better than Magnolia. The trick? More of everything.
So - without further ado - I present to you - potentially lethal - peanut butter ice box pie!
Step 1: Go Get Stuff
The Magnolia Cookbook recipe is for wimps. If you really want to do this right, you will need the following ingredients.
For the crust:
1-1/2 Sticks of unsalted butter
A box of Nilla wafers
For the filling:
1-1/2 8 ounce bars of cream cheese (softened)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups of heavy cream
1 bag of Reese's peanut butter cups (8 for the filling, 4 for the garnish--see below)
1 jar of creamy peanut butter (I like Skippy)
For the garnish:
4 peanut butter cups, chopped
Approximately 1/4 cup of unsalted peanuts, chopped
For the caramel sauce:
1 cup cold water
3 cups of sugar
2 cups of heavy cream (room temperature)
Also required are a pastry brush or damp paper towels.
NOTE: Do not level your measurements. Use heaping portions of everything!
Step 2: Soften Butter
Put 1-1/2 sticks of butter in a bowl and let it soften.
Step 3: Crumbs
Take your Nilla wafers and crush them in the bag they came in.
Optionally, to get very fine crumbs, put the crushed cookie crumbs in a food processor or blender.
Step 4: Crust
Mix together the softened butter and the cookie crumbs.
Pat the mixture down evenly around the inside of your pie dish to form a crust.
Step 5: Freeze
Wrap the crust in saran wrap and stick it in the freezer for a few hours.
Step 6: Caramel Sauce
Over a low flame mix together the sugar and the heavy cream. Continue mixing steadily until creamy brown, using either the pastry brush or paper towels dipped in the bowl of chilled water to wipe the caramelizing sugar from the sides of the pot so that it doesn't harden or burn. Be cautious--when heated, this mixture can have a tendency to be volatile, and may splatter onto your arms or face. Burning hot caramel is not pleasant.
Step 7: Chop, Chop, Chop
Chop or grind your peanuts. Set these aside. Next, do the same with your Reese's cups.
Step 8: Whipped Cream
Pour the heavy cream into a standing mixer and whisk until it forms stiff peaks.
Set it aside in a bowl and let it chill in the fridge while you move on to the rest of the recipe.
Step 9: Whippped Cream Cheese
Put all of the cream cheese into the standing mixer. Mix it until it expands to become light, fluffy, and smooth.
Mix in the sugar gradually, lightly shaking it in as you mix so that the filling will be evenly sweetened.
Step 10: Vanilla
Add vanilla and continue mixing at a slow speed to smoothly mix it in.
Step 11: Peanut Butter
Add a jar of peanut butter to the cream cheese and continue mixing until combined.
Step 12: Peanut Butter Cups
Add peanut butter cups to the peanut butter and cream cheese mixture. Stir it together with a spoon until evenly combined.
Step 13: Whipped Cream
Lastly, add the whipped cream to the peanut butter filling and mix it in thoroughly.
Step 14: Caramel
Take the crust out of the freezer. Pour the caramel into the crust.
If it does not stick to the sides, do not worry. The weight of the filling will push the caramel from the bottom up the sides of the crust. That said, to prevent a total mess, you should be careful not to over-fill the crust with caramel sauce (like in this picture).
Step 15: Add Stuff
Sprinkle some peanut butter cup crumbs and peanuts over the caramel in the crust.
Step 16: Filling
Finally, add the filling to the crust.
Step 17: Cover
Thoroughly cover the top of the peanut butter pie with the remaining peanuts and peanut butter cups.
Step 18: Refrigerate
Refrigerate and/or freeze for a hella long time... A few hours at least.
This pie can sit in the freezer for months and not loose any of its magic.