Nov 27 2009

Thanksgiving Pie Treat with Whipped Cream

November 27th, 2009 at 2:20 am (AST) by Jake Richter

One of our favorite desserts for Thanksgiving is Peanut Butter Pie. We’ve tried a lot different recipes, some which require actual cooking of the pie filling, and others which have unusual or overly complex preparations. But after much research, we finally found a good, repeatable recipe, which I have replicated below, with additional comments and minor modifications, including a low-carb option.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Based for the most part on a recipe from Cooks.com

Ingredients:

Pie Crust and Pie Filling:

  • A 9″ pie crust (This can be Graham cracker or even a pre-made pie shell, however to make this low-carb if you choose, you could use almond flour or hazelnut flour to make the crust).
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese (regular, don’t use light cream cheese – it’s just wrong to have a “light” cheese of any sort, and you soften it by letting it sit at room temperature for a while, depending on your ambient temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (we use 1 cup of Splenda granulated sugar substitute as a way to cut down on carbohydrates)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (we use organic, no-sugar-added chunky peanut butter, but any peanut butter will do)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (salted butter is fine, but don’t use butter substitute or margarine – you can use your microwave oven to melt the butter, but do it in stages so it doesn’t splatter or get overly hot)
  • 1 cup whipping cream (in liquid form, as you use this to make real whipped cream)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (use the real stuff, not fake vanilla)

Chocolate Topping:

  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (we prefer dark or bittersweet chocolate with a high cocoa content (60-72%), or for true low-carb, we also use Godiva’s Sugar Free Dark Chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil (we recommend a nut oil like sunflower oil or peanut oil – do not use olive oil due to the flavor)
  • 1/4 (one-quarter) cup of chopped dry roasted, unsalted peanuts

Directions:

Prepare crust according to favorite recipe (which may involve baking the crust), and then let adjust to room temperature.

Whip cream cheese until fluffy, which is easiest to do with a hand mixer or stand mixer.

Slowly add sugar (or Splenda sugar substitute), peanut butter, and butter. The reason to add this slowly is to ensure even distribution and prevent clouds of sugar.

In another bowl, combine the whipping cream and vanilla extract, and whip until firm. We find that if the bowl for the whipped cream is chilled first, we get better results. An easy way to chill a bowl is to put a cup of crushed ice in the bowl along with a half cup (no need to be exact) of water, and then swish it about until the bowl is nice and cold. Then dump out the ice water and dry the inside of the bowl with a towel before pouring in the whipping cream and vanilla extract.

Blend 1/3 of whipped cream into peanut butter mixture – it’s okay to be rough in for that first third.

Fold the peanut butter mixture into remaining whipped cream (or vice versa – the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture) gently until thoroughly incorporated.

Fill the pie crust, smoothing top. Chill. This will result in a rather firm pie filling.

Once the pie filling is nice and firm, get out a double boiler, fill with a bit of water, and heat the double boiler.

Combine the chocolate, butter, and oil in top of the double boiler until chocolate melts. Cool slightly. Spread chocolate on cooled peanut butter filling. Start at center and work out. Sprinkle top with peanuts, chill pie thoroughly.

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie described above may serve 10-12 people if they take small slices. For our family of four, we have found that the pie is so rich that it lasts us at least a couple of days of nibbling.

One additional suggestion for serving would be to make up extra whipped cream to eat with the pie, as it helps balance out the rich flavor and density of the peanut butter filling and chocolate topping. To make the whipped cream, use a 16 oz. container of whipping cream, add one packet of vanilla Splenda and one packet of normal Splenda (or, if you’re into sugar, a table spoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract), and whip it up in a chilled bowl as described above.


Nov 11 2009

Hot Spicy Buttered Almonds

November 11th, 2009 at 3:24 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I’m a crunchy nuts sort of guy. Not much into chewy, soggy, or stale nuts. So when I discovered last week that I had a bag of stale almonds sitting around, I decided to tried and pep them up. First thing I did was try and dry roast them in a non-stick pan. That helped a bit, but not enough. I then thought of Julia Child and added butter to the pan. And then I added some creole seasoning (which adds salt as well as spice) and for good measure, some spicy Sriracha sauce. I let that saute for a while on medium-low heat until the butter/spice mixture was sizzling nicely and all the almonds were well cooked and then took it off the stove to let cool. The result was excellent. Addictively so. We finished the whole batch that night.

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning and Sriracha sauce

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning and Sriracha sauce

To recreate the result, here’s a recipe I developed. Note that I typically eye ball ingredient amounts and then supplement if needed. As such all measurements here are merely suggestions, not hard and fast rules.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of Butter
  • 1 tablespoon of Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (or equivalent)
  • 1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce (or you can try an Indonesian sambal, like sambal brandal or sambal manis)
  • 1 cup of unsalted almonds

Cooking:

Whole natural almonds, although unsalted roasted can be used too

Whole natural almonds, although unsalted roasted can be used too

If the almonds you have are natural almonds (as pictured above) you will want to dry roast them for a while. The easiest way I have found to do that is by putting the almonds in a non-stick pan and cooking them at low heat, stirring them regularly until they brown up a bit. If you’re starting with unsalted roasted almonds, just warm them up.

Add the creole seasoning to the hot almonds and distribute well. If you add it after the butter, it tends to clump up.

Add the butter to the pan with the almonds and turn up the temperature a bit – perhaps to halfway between low and medium, and let melt and sizzle for a bit. Don’t let the butter get too hot and start to brown or burn though.

Add the sriracha sauce evenly while stirring the pan. Let it cook for a few minutes until you get that nice spicy hot fragrance filling your kitchen. The bottom of the pan should turn a bit pasty and dark reddish brown. Take the pan off the heat, stir one last time, and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Serve into a bowl and enjoy!

Hot spicy buttered almonds - the end result

Hot spicy buttered almonds - the end result