I love baking. I love math. I love Pi Day! When cooking/baking, I usually just try to make it taste good, but this year I wanted to make something that looked cool and tasted great. I was inspired by the recent “cookie within a cookie” brilliance, and I decided that I needed to figure out how to put π into a pie.
I used SmittenKitchen’s crust recipe as a guide (from the Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, which is amazing! http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/08/alexs-choice/.)
8 ounces chocolate flavored animal graham crackers, finely ground
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Add chocolate graham crackers, sugar, and salt to bowl of food processor; process until fine.
3. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the melted butter.
4. Once you have a uniform mixture, dump the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.
Once you’re happy with your crust, bake it for ~8 minutes at 350. Allow to cool.
She uses an Oreo crust – I’m sure it’s delicious, but I wanted something lighter.
1 cup creamy peanut butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
8 ounces Cool Whip, thawed (I would have tried to substitute whipped cream, but she insisted that you use Cool Whip in order to achieve the proper texture. I listened.)
Add ~3/4 of the peanut butter mixture to the cooled pie crust; smooth the top, and try to make it as flat as possible. Refrigerate the pie (and the remaining peanut butter mixture) for about an hour.
Once the pie firmed up a bit, I pressed the tops of a bowl (~5.5 inch diameter) and a ramekin (~4 inch diameter) into the top of the pie, making sure that they were centered. These concentric circles would become the “legs” of my π.
I then used a makeshift piping bag (filled with the leftover peanut butter filling) to add a circle to the middle of the pie (it's a little hard to see, but it's there!) and a peanut butter edge next to the crust. These would act as dams and help create the top of the π.
Once the trenches and dams were done, the pie went back into the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so – it softens really quickly!
Next up: ganache!
1/2 cup heavy cream
¾ cup chocolate chips
A handful of peanut butter chips
1. Heat the cream just until it bubbles, and then add it to the chocolate and peanut butter chips.
2. Stir until melted and smooth, and allow to cool slightly. I then filled my fancy squeeze bottle piping thing with the ganache and carefully filled the trenches.
I would probably add more cream next time - a softer ganache would have been easier to cut.
I then flooded the area above the trenches with more chocolate ganache (taking care not to go over the dams). Again, it went back into the fridge for about 30 minutes. I needed the ganache to be firm enough for me to spread the remaining peanut butter filling on top.
Once the ganache was firm, I spread the rest of the peanut butter filling over the top of the pie. Here is where I should have stopped…..but I had extra ganache and decided to embellish the top of the pie.
At this point, the pie went into the freezer until it was ready to be served -- I found that it was easiest to cut when frozen.
1. As I mentioned earlier, I would try to make a softer ganache next time - at room temperature, the peanut butter filling was way softer than the chocolate, making it impossible to neatly cut.
2. The peanut butter filling was kind of sticky and softened quickly at room temperature. Maybe a different pie would be easier to carve? I also made a key lime pie -- that might have worked better, but I couldn't think of a filling. Whipped cream, maybe?
Thanks for reading! :)