reeses pieces no-bake peanut butter pie

 

reeses pb pie 2

It’s no secret that I love Reese’s.  If “Reese’s” was a real man, he would need a restraining order against me.

What is a lesser-known thing about me, is that I hate Reese’s pieces.  To me, they are the bastard child of the Reese’s corporation.  It’s weird, I know, because I love peanut butter so much (along with just about every other item that Reese’s makes), but these pieces… they just don’t do it for me.  I think it’s because they lack the flavor contrast provided by the chocolate, nor do they have the saltiness that gives peanut butter such a special place in my heart.

They’re just… bland.  Or something.

I don’t know what it is but I just don’t like them.  (Give me a bag of peanut butter M&Ms, however, and I will eat it until I’m sick to my stomach)

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But the BF, he loves Reese’s pieces.  With a passion.  They are pretty much his most favorite thing ever.  Clearly if the person I love could love something so much, it can’t be all bad, right?

So, I tried to make something that would satisfy both his love of Reese’s pieces, and my love of everything else that is peanut butter in the world.

Turns out that he’s onto something, because this pie is pretty awesome.

This pie makes up for everything those poor pieces lack on their own, like chocolate.  The pieces even help the pie out a bit, too, by offering a nice crunch to complement the otherwise creamy texture.  In fact, I think that without the pieces, the pie might even be a little too creamy… if that’s really a thing?

I mean, you don’t want your mouth to get bored when you’re eating dessert.  “Too creamy” will do that.  Bore your mouth.

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A little salty, a little sweet, a little creamy and a little crunch.  Yeah, this pie has pretty much the best of everything… no boredom here.

And, if you’re not too fancy for a store-bought Oreo crust, you don’t even need to turn on the oven!  Which is going to be a popular thing around here this month, since we are battling an excruciating heat wave.

It was 119 over the weekend.

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So yeah… I’m not trying to turn the oven on anytime soon.

In fact, it’s been so hot that I’ve been thinking about testing that whole “baking cookies in your car” thing to see if it really works.  I mean, if it works, what better place to test it?  Put the cookies in my car on my lunch break, let them bake in the sun, get into a car that smells like fresh-baked cookies after work… I don’t see any way that this could possibly go wrong.

I’ve made this dessert in another way, once upon a time ago.  I’m pretty sure all the pictures were taken with my old-school cell phone a million years ago.  But this, this is a faster, easier version.  If you want to make it the hard way, feel free to make every ounce of it from scratch following the directions here.

But since it’s summer, and it’s hot, and this is all about takin’ it easy, I recommend you follow this one below:

Reese’s Pieces No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Printable Recipe

Makes 1 9-inch pie

  • 1 9-inch Oreo pie crust (homemade or store bought)

  • 1 cup chopped Reese’s Pieces, I chopped mine, but I’m sure that’s not really necessary

  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups whipped topping (like Cool Whip), thawed (freshly-whipped cream works, but ya know, we’re being lazy)

  • ½ cup powdered sugar

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temp

  • 1 cup peanut butter (I always use Jif Creamy)

  • 2 Tbsp whole milk (I used 2% and the world did not collapse)

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • 4 oz bittersweet (I used leftover semisweet mini chips) chocolate, chopped

1.  Toss chopped Reese’s Pieces, mini chocolate chips, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

2.  In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese with powdered sugar. Start slow, once incorporated mix at medium speed until cream cheese is smooth. Beat in peanut butter, milk, and ¼ cup of the “crunch”.

3. Stir in ¼ of the whipped cream to lighten the mixture.  Once incorporated, stir in the rest of the “crunch” mixture (I left some aside to sprinkle on top). Then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream, being sure to scrape the bottom.

4. Pour peanut butter mixture into the crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Cover with plastic wrap once the mousse firms.

5. To finish, heat heavy cream in the microwave until almost boiling (about 2 – 3 minutes).  Add the chopped chocolate (I used leftover mini chocolate chips) and stir vigorously with a fork until it’s smooth and shiny. Pour the “ganache” over the pie, and smooth (or tilt the pie) to cover the top. Sprinkle with reserved crunch (if you saved some) and place the pie back in the refrigerator to set for at least 20 minutes.

strawberry mascarpone tart

strawberry tart 1

Things that are difficult to take pictures of: ice cream, anything shiny, and this strawberry tart.

I almost didn’t post the recipe because I didn’t have any pictures that I deemed worthy, but instead I just settled on this picture, taken with the BF’s iPad.

Why?  Because this recipe needs to be shared, people.  It’s so easy, and so refreshing, and so… perfect.  It’s light, refreshing, and the right amount of sweet.

The kid in me prefers a Nilla Wafer crust, but you could use a regular pie crust all the same, just baked according to its own directions.  You could even use one of those store-bought graham crusts if you were extra short on time, I’m sure it would still taste great!

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

Makes 1 8- or 9- inch tart

Printable Recipe

For the Crust

•             2 2/3 cups vanilla wafer cookies

•             1 tbsp sugar

•             1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

•             4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

•             1 egg, whisked with 1 Tablespoon water

For the Filling

•             2 lbs strawberries, stemmed and sliced or quartered

•             1/2 cup white sugar

•             1 Tablespoon lemon zest

•             1 teaspoon lemon juice

•             8 ounces mascarpone cheese

•             4 ounces whipped cream

•             1/2 teaspoon vanilla

•             1/3 cup powdered sugar

•             1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Make the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Crush wafer cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Add melted butter and vanilla extract and continue processing until blended.  Dump into pie or tart pan and press firmly into bottoms and sides (I find using the bottom/sides of a glass to help press makes a big difference).
  2. Brush bottom of crust with whisked egg and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown; cool completely (up to overnight) before filling.

Make the filling

  1. Toss the strawberries with half of the zest, all of the juice, and sugar in a large bowl; set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. While the strawberries are macerating, mix the mascarpone cheese with lemon zest, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until well combined.  Gently fold in the whipped cream; refrigerate until needed.
  3. After 30 minutes, strain juice from strawberries into a small saucepan.  Add the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil of medium heat.  Reduce until thick enough to cover the back of a spoon, it should be like a syrup.  Set aside to cool.

Assemble the tart

  1.  Spread the mascarpone mixture over the bottom of the tart shell, top with strawberries (sometimes I arrange them fancily, other times I just dump them on top and spread them out, whatever your preference and energy levels call for that day), brush with balsamic syrup and chill until ready to serve.

 

[ Adapted from Simply Recipes ]

 

 

strawberry tart 1 pin

 

triple chocolate pumpkin pie

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It’s Sunday.  2013.  New year, new day, new week.  New pie?

Yeah, that sounds right.

I made this particular pie as an accompaniment to our regular pumpkin pie that I made for Thanksgiving.  I wanted to try something new, but didn’t want to start some sort of Thanksgiving mutiny all over a pie, so I figured if I made TWO pies, then I could also make this one.

I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same thing, “chocolate pumpkin pie??? weeeeird.”  I know.

But at the same time, it seems like it should work, my logic was basically something along the lines of, “Chocolate?  Good.  Pumpkin?  Good.  Chocolate + Pumpkin?  Double good?”

My first bite was like “woah, definitely tastes like chocolate”… like super chocolatey.

Then the second bite, “definitely tastes like pumpkin”… as the subtle pumpkin flavor came in for back-up.

“… but it tastes good” … Bite three, “It tastes really good”

Particularly with a touch of cinnamon whipped cream.

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Now I realize fall is long gone, but that doesn’t mean my extreme love of pumpkin just packs its bags and goes to Florida for the winter.

Nope.  My love of pumpkin persists all year long.  So why couldn’t you make a pumpkin pie in January, or February, or even August?

I hope you can tell from the picture that this pie is amazingly creamy.  The chocolate layer on the bottom protects the crust from getting soggy, providing a nice crunch to contrast with the smooth, creamy filling.

This pie has not one but three kinds of chocolate.  Semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate.  I had to lighten it a little bit for the BF since he’s not a fan of dark chocolate.  I basically just replaced a portion of the chocolate at each step with milk chocolate.

I know a lot of you have some New Years resolutions to follow, but pumpkin is practically a health food, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and I’m sure your New Years diet doesn’t start until tomorrow, anyway…. Right?

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 16 crackers)
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 (15-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Ground cloves
  • 1 ounce milk chocolate, melted

Make the crust

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugars, salt, and cinnamon in bowl.
Firmly press mixture into bottom and up sides of a deep, 9 1/2-inch pie dish. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove from oven, and sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over bottom of crust. Return to oven to melt chocolate, about 1 minute.
Spread chocolate in a thin layer on bottom and up sides. Let cool on a wire rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Make the filling

3. In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt semisweet chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth.
Remove from heat.

4. Mix pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves in a medium bowl.
Whisk 1/3 pumpkin mixture into chocolate mixture. Whisk in remaining pumpkin mixture until completely incorporated.

5. Transfer pie dish to a rimmed baking sheet, and pour pumpkin mixture into crust.
Bake until center is set but still a bit wobbly, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pie dish on a wire rack.
Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours (preferably overnight). Before serving, drizzle melted milk chocolate on top.

m4s0n501

the creamiest pumpkin pie in the world

Confession time.

I don’t own a pie pan.  Not a single one.  I’ve contemplated buying one on many occasions, but then I always get hung up.  Do I want glass?  Seems like the right choice, it would give me a window to the pie crust to make sure it browns correctly.  But ceramic is so much prettier, but usually significantly more expensive.  Which leads us to metal, which is an affordable option, and a great heat conductor, but certainly not the prettiest option.  And if it’s not going to look pretty, why do I need to buy a new one anyway?

Round and round I go in my head until I give up and end up in the baking aisle at the grocery store buying another foil pie tin.

Embarrassing.  Right?  A baker without pie plates.  I should be ashamed.

But I’m not.

Luckily I don’t make pies often, I even found a completely pie-free pumpkiny dessert to bring along to Thanksgiving, ensuring I could go an entire year without touching a pie plate if I so chose.  “Oh, did you say pie? I could have sworn you said to bring pumpkin cake!”

So, after years and years of being pumpkin pie-free, I had to give in.  It is, after all, BF’s favorite pie.  It seemed only right..

This pie is a far cry from the one you get from that can of “pumpkin pie filling” that you pick up at the store.  With a sweet, pumpkiny custard nestled in a tender, flaky crust.  Created and perfected by the geniuses over at Cooks Illustrated, this recipe has a “secret” ingredient (sweet potatoes) that somehow (I can only assume with magic) gives a pie with a more complex, even more pumpkiny flavor.

I was actually not even going to make this pie.  I was going to make a completely different pie, but BFF demanded recommended that I make this one.  Specifically.

So, prepare yourself for the smoothest, creamiest pumpkin pie your tastebuds have ever had the pleasure of encountering.  It’s like a creamy, Thanksgiving hug for your mouth… and your tummy.

Despite being “perfected” in the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchens, I provided a few modifications.  First, I would recommend a medium-mesh sieve, as I think my “fine-mesh” was a bit too fine (granted it’s “double mesh”), causing my to arm cramp up while I desperately tried to press the mixture through.

Also, I assume due to my tiny foil pie plate, only half of the filling fit into the pie crust, which means that TECHNICALLY you could get two pumpkin pies out of this recipe, or you could use a deep dish pie plate for a nice custardy pumpkin pie.  I took a “two is better than one” stance on the issue and decided it meant I had one pie for me and one pie for the family (that wasn’t already cut into pieces for photographs and taste tested for quality assurance).  Lucky them, right?  :)

Oh, and a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream never hurt anyone.  Not anyone that I’ve ever met at least…

Cook’s Illustrated Pumpkin Pie  Cook’s Illustrated, December 2008

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • Your favorite pie crust (home-made or store-bought, I won’t tell)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (I could only find sweet potatoes, I know technically they’re different)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1  teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

While oven is preheating, roll pie dough to 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick and press into pie plate, crimping the edge when finished.  Refrigerate 15 minutes or until firm.

Now you are going to “blind bake” your pie crust.  To do this, you will want to prick holes in the bottom with a fork, then line the inside of the crust with foil.  Fill the foil with pie weights of your choice (I used coins, because I don’t own real pie weights.  That would just be silly since I don’t even own a pie plate!  If you feel silly filling your pie with pennies, you can use pie weights or uncooked beans or rice).  Bake crust on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights, rotate plate and bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp.  Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.

While pie shell is baking, whisk half and half, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes.  Continue to simmer, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’re not satisfied with your mashing abilities (as I was not) feel free to puree your pumpkin mixture with a blender stick.  I don’t care if it’s cheating, I still couldn’t smoosh it through my stupid sieve, so good luck if you’re relying on your “mashing” abilities.

I know this recipe has been “perfected”, but I don’t ever stir anything with raw eggs directly into something hot.  So I first whisked a cup or so of the heated pumpkin into the egg/cream mixture, and then poured all of that back into the pumpkin pan and whisked until fully incorporated.  Strain mixture through fine(OR MEDIUM)-mesh strainer set over a large bowl, using the back of a ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer.

Re-whisk mixture and transfer to your warm pre-baked pie shell.  Return pie plate (now filled with custard) still on the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges are set 20 to 35 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees.  Transfer pie to wire rack and cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.  The pie will finish cooking with resident heat, so be sure to cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.  Once cooled, you can transfer it to the refrigerator.

NOTE:  I would recommend a medium-mesh sieve, as I think my “fine-mesh” was a bit too fine, and my arm cramped up trying to press the mixture through.  Also, I assume due to my tiny foil pie plate, only half of the filling fit into the pie crust, which means that TECHNICALLY you could get two pumpkin pies out of this recipe, or you could use a deep dish pie plate for a nice custardy pumpkin pie. 

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Whip cream with cold bowl and cold beaters until it gets bubbly. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and continue beating to desired consistency, voila.  (If you want to whip your cream even faster, make it with an immersion blender.  You’ll never go back to whisks again)

[ Pie recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen whose cookbook recently debuted ]

strawberry galette

strawberry galette main

Have company coming over on short notice? In need of a dessert that’s easy to make but will still impress a crowd? Get suckered into a three pound container of strawberries and at a complete loss of what to do with it?

Then, my dear, this strawberry galette is perfect for you. Low maintenance, high flavor. I’ve made this a number of times, with a variety of fruits and berries, so don’t lock yourself in to strawberries if they’re not your thing. You can save loads of time by using a store-bought pie crust. Yeah, shortcuts are okay here. We’ve got company on the way.

I’ve kept the words short here, so you can get to baking STAT.

Well, what are you waiting for?

Strawberry Galette

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 cups strawberries (or other fruit), sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (a little zest, too, if you feel so inclined)
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (or you can use cream)
  • 1 recipe pie crust or store-bought pie dough (enough for one double crust pie)
  • Raw sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F

1. Toss strawberries, lemon juice (and zest, if using), corn starch, and sugar together in a bowl.

2. Unroll crusts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. This one was a Trader Joe’s crust which was super ginormous so I just made one big one instead of two little ones…. could’ve halved and re-rolled it, but… yeah

3. Spoon berries into the middle of each crust (as if this counts as an additional step), leaving a two-inch border. You can arrange them fancy and overlapping if you like, but I’m not fancy.

4. Fold the sides over to form a border around the center of the galette. Get fancy if you like, but there’s really no need. Brush beaten egg or cream around the border (you can skip it, but it helps with browning). Sprinkle with raw sugar if desired. I desired.

5. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until lightly browned and your house smells like delicious. Allow to cool on a wire rack until it’s safe for handling. Serve to awe-struck guests with freshly whipped cream.

Oh, you can totally make mini ones too. Yes, they’re adorable. In case you were wondering. No, I don’t have proof. I made some 4-inch ones awhile ago that were pretty cute, too. Just sayin.