Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

My early twenties were a period of movement. I lived mainly out of a suitcase, shuffling between college dorms, internship accommodations, and my parents' house. In a year's time, I would call as many as four different beds my home. I loved the unpredictable nature of my life, this liberating feeling that I could go anywhere and do anything. It was freeing.

As the years passed, the pillow beneath my head grew fixed and my feet stayed in one place for a greater length of time. I moved to a small town of three thousand for two years; then I moved to a city of three million and that's where I still remain today. Though I resisted it in the beginning, I began to settle down, to find a community, to grow roots.

I closed on a beautiful house two weeks ago. The whole process still feels unreal; the understanding that I live here now is slow to set in. After years of living out of a suitcase, the lessons of minimalism stayed close to heart. Several rooms still sit empty after unpacking the boxes from my one bedroom apartment and will certainly sit empty for a while longer. The home is a blank slate, both exciting and intimidating at the same time.

I have dreamed of this moment for a long time. Now that it's here, I'm spending my time trying to take it all in, to savor this experience.

After baking in cramped apartment kitchens for a number of years, a large functional kitchen was one of the top elements I was looking for in my home. This new kitchen checks all the boxes, with enough counter space for several people to prep comfortably (or, in reality, enough space to support multiple messy, flour-covered projects). The new kitchen also features gas appliances. After using electric appliances my entire life, this particular adjustment has already become an adventure of trial and error.

For this Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, I gave the gas oven a spin for the first time. The graham cracker crust bakes only long enough to set before it is cooled and filled with a rich, creamy peanut butter filling. Covered with a thick chocolate glaze and a smattering of salted peanuts, the pie is a simple homage to the candy bar of similar flavors.

I enjoyed a slice while sitting on the floor of my empty dining room. Between bites, I imagined the memories that would be made in this room someday.

This Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie is a rich, chilled dessert that has a flavor reminiscent of a favorite candy bar. A crisp graham cracker crust is filled with a peanut butter filling made from creamy peanut butter and coconut cream (but don't worry, it tastes nothing of coconut). Spread with a thick chocolate glaze and garnished with salted peanuts, the pie is shaped into its final form. Serve chilled, with a tall glass of milk.

One Year Ago: Dulce de Leche Cake
Two Years Ago: Strawberry Layer Cake & Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins
Three Years Ago: Berry Topped Angel Food Cake, Mango Margarita, & Chocolate Cacao Nib Banana Bread
Four Years Ago:  Buckwheat Pancakes, White Chocolate Espresso Cake, Vanilla Chia Pudding, & Rhubarb Vanilla Pound Cake
Five Years Ago: Multigrain Bread, Blueberry Lemon Crumble, Vanilla Cupcakes, Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Coconut Nutmeg Pudding
Six Years Ago: Roasted Cherry Brownies, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread
Seven Years Ago: Lemon Tart, Chocolate SherbetTapioca Pudding

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Yields 8-10 servings

Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups (285 grams) graham cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers, crushed)
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted

Peanut Butter Filling
14 oz (414 mL) can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the refrigerator
1 1/2 cups (405 grams) creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups (140 grams) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk)
1/4 cup (35 grams) salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (160 degrees C). 

In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter until uniform. Press evenly into a pie pan and bake for 10-12 minutes to set. Cool before filling.

For the filling, open a can of chilled coconut milk and scoop the solid cream from the top into a mixing bowl. Leave the liquid in the bottom of the can and reserve it for another use (smoothies, baked goods, etc). Add the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to the solid cream and beat until whipped, about 3-5 minutes. Spread evenly into the cooled crust.

For the glaze, heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until steaming. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt for 5 minutes before stirring until smooth and uniform. Spread evenly over the filling. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Chill in refrigerator to set before serving. Store pie in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

12 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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Rhubarb Almond Cake

Pastry Affair turned seven this week—a milestone I never imagined when I started this blog so many years ago. 

Blogging has evolved since I began sharing my own recipes and stories. This year more than any other I have felt the pressure to do more and be more. The list of things I "should" be doing to improve this space stretches the length of a page. It is easy to get caught up in comparisons, to feel as if my voice is not enough when it's not coming from a professionally designed website and broadcast across a half dozen beautifully curated social media accounts. At the same time, these comparisons feel so silly. Blogging was never meant to be a competition. There is a place for every voice; our diversity only strengthens us.

I spent time this year reflecting on this space. Pastry Affair has meant very different things to me at different times—a reprieve from reality, a creative haven, a community. I have shared recipes as many as three times a week when I was seeking a sense of purpose, and as little as once a month when I found that purpose as a teacher in a high school classroom. This past year I also did something unusual by taking an unannounced break. I spent a weekend building up a few recipes to share during my absence, and turned off my oven for a solid month. I learned we sometimes need vacations even from the things that bring us joy—when we return, it is with a new energy and excitement.

Though my relationship with this space is ever-evolving, I have enjoyed the journey and the company I have had along the way. Thank you, dear readers, for being the loving, supportive constant that makes this space feel like home.

In the past I've celebrated the blog's anniversary with bold layered cakes, but this year I opted for a simpler, seasonal cake. Growing up, there was an immense rhubarb plant in the backyard. Around late May, the first stalks were ready to harvest; the clean, tart flavor of the rhubarb holds a special place in my memory.

This rhubarb almond cake allows both the tart rhubarb and rich almond flavors to shine. The fresh rhubarb lends moisture to the cake and the almonds provide a grounding profile. The cake is most reminiscent of a pound cake once it has had a chance to cool. The top of the cake is sprinkled with almonds and raw sugar, which provide a sweet contrast to the produce. I adore that the rhubarb carries a tartness after baking, but if you prefer a sweeter cake, cut back on the amount of rhubarb and sprinkle a little more raw sugar over the top. 

Rhubarb Almond Cake is a seasonal snacking cake that balances flavors both sweet and tart. The cake starts with a rich, almond cake batter infused with almond meal and almond extract. Rhubarb is cut and layered in the center and on the top to provide a tart contrast. With a sprinkling of sliced almonds and sugar, the cake bakes up into a treat that is a delight to share. For a better finished product, I suggest cutting the rhubarb into smaller pieces than shown in the photographs. The smaller pieces fit nicely on a fork and provide a more balanced flavor between sweet and tart from bite to bite. 

One Year Ago: Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast
Two Years Ago: Perfect Pie Crust (tutorial) & Berry Balsamic Pie
Three Years Ago: Roasted Strawberry Red Wine Popsicles 
Four Years Ago:  Fresh Strawberry Cake, Whole Wheat Almond Waffles, Pineapple Rum Cocktail, & Nutella Banana Bread
Five Years Ago: Rhubarb Custard Tart, Chocolate Almond Ice Cream, Rhubarb Muffins, Coconut Waffles, & Mocha Granola
Six Years Ago: Parmesan Crackers, Pina Colada Cupcakes, & Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Coconut Granola & Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Rhubarb Almond Cake
Adapted from Floating Kitchen

Yields 10-inch cake

1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (225 grams) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 oz (0.75 lb or 340 grams) rhubarb, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces (roughly six 15-inch stalks)
1/3 cup (30 grams) sliced almonds
1 tablespoon raw or turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 10-inch spring-form pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract until uniform. Gradually add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt, mixing until uniform. 

Spread 1/2 of the cake batter in the prepared pan. Layer 1/2 of the rhubarb pieces in concentric circles. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the top. Layer the remaining rhubarb pieces in concentric circles. Sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds and raw sugar.

Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing spring-form and cooling completely. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.

9 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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Strawberry Scones

The rains of spring have arrived with determination, filling the forecast with a week of gray, overcast skies. After a long winter of snow and cold weather, I forget how much I enjoy the sound of the rain drumming against the window panes and sloshing through the gutters. In the last evening downpour, I threw open the windows and turned on the fan, bringing the deep scent of earth into the apartment. I curled up in bed with a book, eventually lulled to sleep by the steady beat of raindrops overhead.

Rainy days are my excuse to set aside the busy schedule and curl up indoors instead. The pace of a slow day is rehabilitating in a dozen small, but significant ways. These heavy gray skies may soon feel monotonous, but for now I am reveling in these moments before the heat descends. 

Once the winter season of citrus passes, I am anxious for spring produce to arrive. It is still early in the season for fresh strawberries, at least in the Midwest, but my impatience cannot always be tamed. After sorting through the tubs at the market, I found dark red berries with a sweet scent. For now, these would do.

Overcast days feel like baking days to me. After slicing the strawberries, I gently mixed them into scone batter and baked them up for a taste of spring.

Because sliced strawberries hold moisture after baking, I recommend eating the scones the same day they are baked. If you do choose to store them overnight, cover the scones, but do not keep them under an airtight seal; this will prevent the scones from becoming soggy. As an alternative, a quick 5-8 minute reheat in a 350 degrees F oven will also bring the scones back to the right consistency.

Strawberry scones are a sweet recipe to use up the fresh, seasonal strawberry bounty. Sliced strawberries are mixed into a classic scone dough which is flavored with vanilla bean seeds. Once baked, the scones are topped with a vanilla bean glaze for extra sweetness. The scones hold moisture so they are best eaten the same day they are made. Serve for a special breakfast or enjoy as part of a morning snack.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Rolls
Two Years Ago: Blueberry Oat Bars & Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Blackberry Cupcakes
Four Years Ago:  PB & J Muffins, Almond Butter Chocolate Cookies, Sunflower Seed Bread, Blackberry Fool, Lime Curd Tart, Honey Chocolate Chunk Cookies, & Strawberry Charlotte
Five Years Ago: S'mores Cupcakes, Mai Tai, Homemade Mascarpone, Ladyfingers, Tiramisu Cake, & Honey Wheat Cake
Six Years Ago: Lemon Thins, Vanilla Pear Muffins, Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Chocolate Raspberry Pots de Creme

Strawberry Scones

Yields 8 scones

Strawberry Scones
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold butter, cubed
8 ounces (225 grams) fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large egg
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream

Topping
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, whisked)
Raw or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Vanilla Glaze (optional)
1/2 cup (62 grams) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender (or your hands) until mixture resembles coarse sand. Gently fold in sliced strawberries. 

In a small bowl, beat together egg, vanilla bean seeds, and heavy cream. Pour over the scone batter and lightly mix until the dough comes together. 

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, form a circle, and flatten it until it is about 1-inch thick. Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, cut 8 equal pie wedges. Transfer scones to a baking sheet using a flat spatula dipped in flour. Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

For the glaze, stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over cooled scones. Allow at least 15 minutes for the glaze to set before serving.

Scones are best if served on the same day. If storing, cover the scones, but do not keep under an airtight seal.

2 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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