Cooking Spree: Peanut Butter Pie

I’m not one of those people who’s in love with peanut butter … I like it, it’s okay, sometimes it hits the spot, but I don’t have to have it. I am, however, a big fan of peanut butter pie.

That love affair began back in the ’80s with the peanut butter pie at Reilley’s, an Irish pub and restaurant on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Reilley’s pie is legendary, decadent and ridiculously delicious. We still talk about it, though it’s been years, probably decades, since I’ve had a piece there.

Last week I was at Hilton Head helping Mom recover from her foot surgery. Mom, I should note, is one of those peanut butter fanatics. She eats it by spoon right from the jar. On crackers, sandwiched between Thin Mints, atop gingersnaps, in a Thai sauce on noodles. Any which way it will come, really. (Oliver thinks it’s pretty nifty as well.)

While we were out to lunch during the week, Mom and I shared slices of peanut butter pie for dessert at two restaurants. Each was a different interpretation on peanut butter pie schools of thought: one a dense, rich version covered in a layer of chocolate, so dense in fact it could almost be considered a bar, and clearly inspired by peanut butter cup candy. The second version is a more traditional pie, with a light, frothy filling of peanut butter whipped with cream or whipped topping. It’s often drizzled with chocolate sauce and plenty of whipped cream, but the filling can be so light that its flavor only distantly resembles peanut butter. I suppose there’s another category for frozen and ice cream pie concoctions, though those don’t interest me as much.
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Obsessions: Nutella

I totally forgot to mention that Saturday was World Nutella Day!

I’ve made no secret of my obsession with the smooth, chocolatey, hazelnutty goodness that is Nutella. And I actually commemorated this year’s anniversary quite by accident.

My obsession with Nutella goes pretty far back, to a holiday season years ago when my mom’s cousin used it to make her White Trash (a special recipe for another day!). At the time, Nutella had not yet gained its popularity stateside, and it was a hard-to-find, gourmet delicacy (moms also weren’t yet being encouraged to spread it on toast for their children’s “nutritious” breakfast. Do what?). In the ensuing years, many of us made Nutella memories while traipsing around Europe. Mine mostly involve obsessively sticking my spoon (okay, fingers) in the jar while driving on the wrong side of the road. It was totally worth the scary danger. Now Nutella is available to the masses — they even sell it at Wal-Mart, which I guess is how you know you’ve really arrived. Keep reading »