A Pie for Mikey

The internet’s a funny thing. Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Jennifer Perillo or her husband, Mikey. Then, via Twitter, I learned of his sudden death. Jennifer posted the recipe for his favorite pie and said anyone who wanted to do something to help her could simply make this pie in his memory and share it.

As these things do, the word spread quicky and even appeared on CNN’s Eatocracy. I’m making this pie along with many other people, for many reasons. It’s been a difficult and exhausting week here in several ways. Riots have torn across much of England, churning up issues many people would rather not acknowledge except to deal out punishment. My own city has been affected, reminding many that while Liverpool has changed a great deal since the Toxteth riots of 1981, desperate social problems still persist. And I’m standing at a crossroads in the dark, not knowing which path to follow.

Something I read earlier I know to be true: “One thing I love about cooking is that when things don’t make sense, cooking allows you to DO something. Even if it is only baking a pie.”

Right now, the world is not making a lot of sense to me. So when I didn’t know what else to do, I made this:

Jennifer Perillo‘s Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Shauna James Ahern has gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives (and some very heartfelt and moving words) over on Gluten-Free Girl

Serves 10 to 12

I’ve added approximate weight measurements, where not already stated, for those outside the US and because, and I can’t quite believe it either, I prefer to bake with measurements in grams (or ounces at a push) rather than cups. This American never thought she could cook in metric.

8 ounces/225g chocolate cookies (I used the Co-op’s Double Chocolate Chip cookies. It only came in a 200g pack, so I’d get a larger amount next time. I had to improvise the sides of the crust using some graham crackers, as you’ll see below)

4 tablespoons/2oz/50g (approx) butter, melted

4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Divine 70% Dark Chocolate, but milk chocolate would probably be fine for the base)

1/4 cup/1 oz/35g chopped peanuts

1 cup/250ml heavy/double cream

8 ounces/225g cream cheese (Again, you may find the 200g regular pack isn’t enough, but that’s what I used. Get a large one and use the rest on bagels if you prefer).

1 cup/10 oz/285g creamy-style peanut butter (I used crunchy as that’s what was in the house)

1 cup/5 oz/145g confectioner’s sugar

1 – 14 ounce/397g can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 oz/25g melted chocolate to drizzle on top, optional

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

I had a 100g bag of peanuts, so I just used them all.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

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