It's not always easy for me to go with the flow.
Dancing is where I feel least confined to an expected outcome (read: my own highly self-critical expectations), though I was even challenged in that area recently. I totally did not go with the flow during a performance, felt horrible about the outcome and spent the next few days beating myself up.
As a parent I often feel confined to schedules and routines. And as a chef, I get frustrated when a dish doesn't come out right. Usually it's not the taste that fails me, but the presentation of the final product. It falls, it burns, it flops.
A cake fail? That challenges my critical self to a level that is not pretty.
I've experienced a few cake fails. I tried to make the Impossible Cake (the name alone should have given me a clue); it imploded in goo. I have covered cracked cheesecake in a beautiful layer of glaze, hoping that no-one noticed that my cutting lines followed the gaping fissures. And just last night, I made a cream pie that turned out more like a soup than pie.
My son had a craving for peanut butter, banana, chocolate and caramel. What could I do, let a perfectly good craving go to waste? A friend of mine shared a recipe for Mikey's creamy peanut butter pie. It was first published by food blogger Jennie in honor of her husband Mikey Perillo who passed away last August. Peanut butter cream pie? That could become my new favorite, too, and it sounded amazingly easy! Even my son can make it with minimal help, I thought.
We followed the directions, and the crust and filling looked perfect. Fluffy filling on a cookie crumb crust. A nice layer of chocolate separating the two.
But alas, after chilling it for a few hours, the filling was still pourable. We dived in anyway, and the crumb crust spilled like dust across the plates. A heaping mound of delicious goop, and finely ground crumbs. In that moment, I realized that I could get frustrated and wonder endlessly what I did wrong--was it that we used a food processor, rather than a blender? Was the cream cheese too soft? Should I have whipped the cream more? Or...
I could go with the flow. I remembered to feel grateful that I had time with my son to cook, and I stuck the cake in the freezer. Lo and behold, a (not really) beautiful, slice-able, delicious, creamy, frozen peanut butter pie.
Forget the dishes, it's time to go play in the snow.
Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
Serves 10 to 12
8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (I omitted)
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
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.
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.