Wednesday, September 5, 2012

S'mores Peanut Butter Tart

A year ago this past weekend we got engaged!  Wow, I can't believe how quickly the past year has gone.    Last fall I even wrote an entire post about the engagement weekend, but in the end, I couldn't bring myself to actually press "publish" and release quite that many details about such a personal experience.  In hind sight, I'm thankful I didn't press publish.  I like keeping a few of those details more private.  I'm glad I wrote the post & that my now-husband and I can look through my blog post drafts & remember the weekend.


I flew out to Texas last Labor Day weekend.  We were no strangers to a long distance relationship--we had not lived in the same city (or sometimes state or timezone) in over 3 years.  It was getting rather tiresome, this knowing that every reunion also meant an impending goodbye.  I've never been good with goodbyes.  I was determined to spend the long weekend making the most of every moment we had together, painfully aware that we perhaps would not see each other again until the holiday season.  As many people in the food blogging world were doing at that time, I wanted to make him a peanut butter pie.  Peanut Butter Pie?  What's so special about peanut butter pie?

last year's Peanut Butter Pie

Last summer, a food blogger lost her husband unexpectedly.  She wished she could have made her husband one last peanut butter pie (a particular favorite of his) & she challenged her readers to make a peanut butter pie to share with their own loved ones.  Life is short.  We are never guaranteed more time with those we love.  Well, I made us a peanut butter pie to share.  We ate it the day after getting engaged, digging into the pie with our two spoons, eating straight from the dish.  I wish I could say we loved the pie, but honestly, we found it a bit too rich for our tastes.  We loved what it stood for, but not the flavor profile of the pie itself.


In celebration of our engagement anniversary, I decided to once again make a peanut butter pie, but to tweak it more to our taste preferences.  For starters, I chose to make it a tart instead of a pie.    I flip-flopped the components, making a peanut butter cookie crust and a chocolate  filling.   This one is much more our style.  Still sweet, but not nearly as heavy.  We like a little peanut butter with our chocolate, not lots of peanut butter with a little chocolate. (But, replace the chocolate with apples, and we like a little apple with our peanut butter).  And we love s'mores!  So I used the egg whites left from the tart filling (and from the banana puddin') to make a swiss meringue topping to be torched, like s'mores, right before being served.


Now, I'm not going to lie, I had a bit of a meltdown when it came to the assembly of this tart.  As much as I wish it were so, not everything I make turns out exactly the way I wish it did....  Sometimes things are really tasty but not pretty, and sometimes things are pretty, but not tasty....  This tart fell into the "tasty but not pretty" category. I was rushing to finish it so I could photograph the tart before we had guests over for dinner.  Even though I chilled it, the filling was too loose (I've since re-adjusted the recipe to ensure that doesn't happen again) & started running everywhere when I added the meringue.  The meringue didn't pipe the way I wanted it to (or the way I was envisioning it in my head) & so I ended up spreading it, which made the running filling run even further!  I ended up throwing the entire thing into the freezer, canceling the photo shoot I had intended, and serving it without "proper" photos.  Oh well, I guess those things just happen sometimes :)  Real life should be more important than photos.  I am glad for my iPhone (plus Instagram) which allowed me to snap these photos during our dinner party without looking too conspicuous.


I am so thankful we got engaged.  I'm so thankful we are now married.  I look forward to celebrating many future anniversaries.  Even though the tart isn't perfect, I'm glad I made it & that we could share it with friends.  Perhaps I'll start a tradition of making a different chocolate peanut butter dessert each year :)

Recipes

Peanut Butter Cookie Crust
10 oz peanut butter sandwich cookies (like nutterbutter cookies) 
1.5 oz Butter, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Crush the PB cookies, either in the food processor or in a heavy duty zip top bag pounded with a rolling pin.

2.  Place the crumbs into a bowl & stir in the melted butter.

3.  Pour the crumbs into a 13.75"x4.5" rectangular tart pan.  Press the crumbs into the bottom & up the sides.  Use a spoon or a metal measuring cup to aid with the pressing.

4.  Bake the crust for 8 minutes, or until just beginning to brown.  Remove from the oven & place into the freezer.  If the bottom puffs too much during the baking process, use a metal measuring cup to re-press the bottom.

Chocolate Bavarian Cream
3 oz Milk
50 g Granulated Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
50 g Dark Chocolate, melted
6 oz Heavy Cream
34 g Granulated Sugar

1.  Prepare an ice bath in medium sized bowl & set aside.  In a small sauce pan, add all of the milk & sprinkle over it a little of the sugar (50 g measurement).  Do NOT stir.  Bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile, whisk the remaining sugar (50 g measurement) with the egg yolks.

2.  Temper the hot milk into the yolk/sugar mixture, whisking constantly to combine.  Pour back into the sauce pan and heat over medium heat stirring constantly with a heat tempered spatula.  Keep your ice bath handy!  Cook the mixture just until it reaches "napper," meaning the mixture will coat the heat tempered spatula and if you draw a line through the coated spatula, it will hold the line & nothing will drip.

3.  Immediately remove from the stove & stir in the melted dark chocolate.  Place into the ice bath & chill, stirring occasionally.

4.  Once the mixture is cold, take the heavy cream and remaining granulated sugar and whip them together until stiff peaks form.  Whisk half of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate custard, then  fold the lightened chocolate mixture into the remaining whipped cream.

5.  Spoon the finished cream into the chilled peanut butter cookie crust & place into the freezer to set up.  Freeze at least 2 hours.

Swiss Meringue Topping
4 oz Egg Whites
7 oz Granulated Sugar

1.  Heat a medium sauce pan, filled with  just a couple inches of water, on the stove.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.  Place the bowl over the steaming water to form a double boiler.  Heat, stirring constantly, until the egg white and sugar mixture is warm (around 140 F) and all the sugar has dissolved.

2.  Remove the bowl from the double boiler (don't burn yourself on the steam or the condensation on the bottom of the bowl) and place on the mixer.  Fit with the whisk attachment & whip at high speed until the mixture cools completely, increases in volume, and becomes very white.

3.  Spoon the meringue over the nearly frozen tart.  Use a small spatula or a spoon to make a swirl pattern.  Reserve in the freezer for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.  

4.  When ready to serve, torch the top until nice and toasty brown.  Cut into slices & serve! Store any leftovers in the freezer.

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