I didn't make this pie for my 30th birthday, but when I think about what might be the perfect dessert to commemorate this day, a peanut butter pie is pretty high up there.
I remember several birthdays when I would ask my mom to make me a peanut butter pie. The one she always made had a chocolate cookie crust overflowing with a luscious peanut butter, cream cheese, and whipped cream filling and was finished with a decadent chocolate ganache. To this day, it is still one of my favorite desserts (and way better than cake). Perhaps that's why when I saw the peanut butter honeycomb pie in the August issue of Bon Appetit I was immediately drawn to it and knew I'd be making it.
This pie starts with a graham cracker crust and has a more fussy filling of an egg custard mixed with peanut butter. The filling is topped with melted bittersweet chocolate, salty peanuts, and shards of honeycomb -- a sweet, crunchy candy. The pie is rich and decadent, and the honeycomb is downright irresistible. If you have something to celebrate, this is the dessert for the occasion.
Peanut Butter Honeycomb Pie (adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2011)
9 cinnamon graham crackers, broken in pieces
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted
8 large egg yolks
12 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy!)
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon baking soda, sifted
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
To make the crust, finely grind graham crackers, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Transfer crumb mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in butter using a fork. Pack crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9" glass pie plate. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Mix yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat at high speed until ribbons form, stopping once to scrape down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.
Combine milk and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in a large saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add bean. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove bean. With mixer running, gradually add hot milk mixture to yolk mixture. Scrape mixture back into pan. Clean bowl. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. (To see if the mixture is boiling, stop whisking briefly and see if bubbles form on the surface.) Remove pan from heat and whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Return custard to mixing bowl, beat on high speed until cool, about 4 minutes. Mix in butter one tablespoon at a time. Add peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt; beat to blend. Scrape filling into cooled crust and smooth top. Chill until set, 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, make the honeycomb. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Combine sugar, corn syrup, honey, and 1/4 cup water in a heavy deep saucepan.
Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil.
Cook without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until sugar turns pale amber.
|Try to stay a little lighter than this.|
Immediately pour candy over prepared sheet but don't spread it out.
Let stand undisturbed until cool, about 20 minutes. Hit candy in several places with the handle of a knife to crack into pieces or break with your hands (which worked much better for me than the knife suggestion.)
Below is a picture of my first batch of honeycomb. It was too dark (and tasted burnt) and not whisked well enough (hence the stripes). It may take a couple tries to get it right. I also recommend not trying to scrape every last bit of the honeycomb mixture out of the pan, as whatever is stuck on the bottom of the pan will darken and possibly burn, and you don't want to stir that into all the good honeycomb mixture.
To make the topping, stir chocolate and butter in top pan of double boiler set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth.
Drizzle some of the chocolate glaze over the peanut butter filling, making a circle in the middle of the pie and leaving a 1- to 2-inch plain border.
Pile pieces of honeycomb and salted peanuts on top and then drizzle remaining chocolate glaze over.
Some quick things to note: The pie looks pretty stunning whole, but it's a bit difficult to serve because you can't really cut through the honeycomb. Keep that in mind when you're breaking up honeycomb to put on top of the pie. You may want to go with smaller pieces. Also, I used barely half of the honeycomb I made. I put the rest in a Ziploc bag, and I have been mindlessly munching on it every evening while blogging and watching TV. It's dangerous and addictive.
And even though I didn't make this pie for my birthday, I still made it during my birthday month (yes, I get to celebrate all month) and loved being able to share it with friends.
Coincidentally, Joanne just posted this pie yesterday. Her pictures are amazing, so go check them out!
What's your ideal birthday treat?