For some time now I’ve remarked about the truly amazing community amongst food writers and bloggers. In the short time I’ve joined this special “fraternity”, I’ve experienced and witnessed such open support, generosity, collegiality, and celebration.
Quite extraordinary considering the majority of us will never have the opportunity to meet face to face.
But through the shared love of food and stories (which, really….are inseparable) we have created somewhat of a food society. We revel and congratulate each others successes and reach out to support each other during times of challenge and pain. And the latter was so greatly experienced nearly 2 weeks ago when Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen suddenly and tragically lost her husband.
I met Jennifer for but a moment in Chicago earlier this summer at the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop. It was such a quick, jammed packed weekend that I didn’t get the chance to get to know her but quickly added her on Twitter when I got back home to San Diego. Her writing is so inspiring and quick-witted that it didn’t take me long to become a big fan of hers. So when I heard the news, my heart just broke.
No –I don’t really know Jennifer. But through her writing she became a kindred spirit and I was overcome with sadness for her and her little ones.
In a heartbeat, the food community from all over the world came together to envelope Jennifer with love and support. When asked what people could do to help her, she answered by asking us to make a peanut butter pie (her husband Mikey’s favorite) to share it with our loved ones.
In addition to honoring Jennifer & Mikey, my Peanut Butter Pie is for:
- My grandpa Ôn— who was gentle-hearted, loved WWF wrestling and our peanut butter cookies;
- My grandma Mệ— for her thunderous laughter and spirited soul;
- Dad– who carried the weight of his entire family on his shoulders and for always pushing us to be better;
- Mom– who taught me everything;
- My eldest sister Ngọc — who can remain level minded during times when I fly off the handle and who won’t “waste” calories unless it’s for desserts;
- My elder sister Phooey— who is stronger than she sometimes gives herself credit for and is our ultimate foodie;
- My brother Việt— who taught me everything I know about electronics and who had to put up being the only boy amongst 4 sisters;
- My sister Tường— who, for better or worse, is exactly like me…..fiercely loyal and isn’t afraid to say anything;
- My in-laws Curtis, Liezl, & Rick — for willingly jumping into our crazy family;
- My nieces & nephews (Nina, Nini, Maya, Lucas, Luna, Baby Nguyen)– for being such smart, loving and kind kids;
- My Bella– for being the cuddliest, crazy, peanut butter lovin’ puggle ever;
- And for the rest of my Family and Friends— for being exactly who they are. Entertaining, hilarious, adventurous, and above all–loving.
Thank you Jennifer, for reminding me to take time out to appreciate and acknowledge my loved-ones. Here’s a big virtual hug to you.
Peanut Butter Pie
Slightly adapted from In Jennie’s Kitchen
For the Crust:
8 ounces chocolate graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies, crushed into fine crumbs
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped peanuts, plus 2 more tablespoons for the top
For the Filling:
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon 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. (I used a tart 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 pan. Sprinkle the tops with remaining peanuts and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.