I wasn’t going to post about the pie. I thought I’d just make it, because I was one of the many well meaning, well-wishing people who asked Jennie what we could do to help. Anything. I said it, and I meant it – if she’d asked me to do a load of laundry, I’d have done it without hesitation, though I’ve met Jennie all of two times, and chatted with her via Twitter a handful more times than that. Despite my lack of experience and general desire in dessert making, I thought I’d make it, and maybe Tweet a pic of it, but not post about it, because how I’ve been feeling this past week seemed too personal for me to share. I didn’t want to be part of the public spotlight grieving with and for her family, because I didn’t understand – I still don’t really understand – why I am so grief-stricken as I am. I felt a bit of a phony; who was I to grieve so hard for someone I’d never met, whose wife I’ve met only twice?
Then I pulled out my food processor to make the cookie crumb crust, and I realized that without Jennie, I couldn’t have made this pie if I wanted. You see, the very first time I met her, I was fortunate enough to sit next to her at a press event – I can’t even remember which one it was – and we chatted a bit. As conversations with other food bloggers do, it turned to talk of our kitchens, and I mentioned that I was in the market for a food processor, but wasn’t sure which one I should get.
“Oh!” Jennie responded, her face lit up with a smile. “I just went to BlogHer, and they gave out vouchers for them. I have one already, so I don’t need it – do you want it?” I was thrilled – it is an appliance that I use frequently enough to justify its space in my kitchen, but on a student budget it is a luxury – and accepted. She followed up with me shortly after, and I soon received my brand new mini food processor in the mail. I cannot thank her enough for this, though she’d probably brush away the thank you and think nothing of it – after all, she already had one, I needed one; to her this sort of generosity and kindness is just part of her. Not even second nature – just nature.
The second time we met was years later, but she recognized me and immediately came to say hi, to chat. Her easy smile made conversation flow, and we talked about food, her kids, good Italian restaurants.
But how I really know Jennie is through her Twitter. As I’ve grown to embrace Twitter and use it more, her Tweets always make me smile. She Tweets with such love about her family, her kids, her husband, that I am always inspired and encouraged to be a better person. To be a better anything and everything. The way she talks about her kids, cooking with and for them, is something I strive to one day achieve. One day, a particularly touching Tweet prompted me to respond, “Jennie, you are such an amazing mom, I really hope one day I can be just a little bit like you.” The way she feeds them – both with food and their souls emotionally – is just incredible, with such love and just about everything from scratch. There’s no doing it halfway with her, and it really… just inspires me. That’s the only word for it. She’s an inspiration, someone I admire so much for her courage, her strength.
And now, that strength is what is going to get her through this. Her strength, and the love and support of those around her, is going to get her through figuring out what ‘normal’ is now. It’s unfair what happened to Jennie and her family. There is hardly a person I could think of who deserves this less than Jennie… but I have faith that she has the courage, the grace, and the strength to emerge even more amazing than she already is. We are all here for you, Jennie… whatever you need.
Without Mikey, I would never have made this pie. And without you, I would not have been able to make this pie.
My first ever pie crust. A little uneven, but I was shocked and thrilled at how easy it was.
Adding the chocolate proved a little harder (sorry for the photo; I was trying to do things quickly, and I didn’t realize how hard it is to see). The crust wanted to come up in chunks with the chocolate as I spread it, and I wasn’t quite “good” enough to do it evenly. No matter, whoever gets the parts with thicker chocolate will love it all the same I’m sure.
Oh, I don’t have a Springform pan as I don’t bake, so I bought a tinfoil pie pan… and discovered that the recipe makes a LOT of filling. So I’ve got an extra 3/4 quart of filling in my fridge – what should I dip in it, or can I make something else with it? Maybe mini pies? I practically overflowed the top, then sprinkled some reserved cookie crumbs on top. I almost look like I know what I’m doing.
I didn’t wait long enough for it to set, though, so the first slice was a bit soft. But it was enjoyed nonetheless by the person with whom I shared it.
A Pie for Mikey, who was loved with all her heart by Jennie, who is loved by all the world around her.
Recipe adapted from In Jennie’s Kitchen
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 these)
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter (I used almond 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.