Happy Pi Day! The day that math lovers celebrate the irrational number Pi (3.14159…) – the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter – and a day others use as an excuse to bake a pie, eat a pie, bake a pizza pie or eat a pizza pie. While I thought about making a pizza this year to honor the day, I decided to go with a pie instead. Mainly because I wanted to try a Peanut Butter Chai Pie recipe I ripped out of an issue of Food & Wine magazine last year. And I must say, it didn’t disappoint.
And yes, you read that correctly… Peanut Butter Chai. While some might scoff at the idea of peanut butter working with the flavors of chai – cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger to name a few – surprisingly they complement each other quite well.
To begin, I made the crust. I opted to make something a little out of the ordinary – a Sweet & Salty Pretzel and Waffle Cone Crust – but, if you want to go with something simple or you just don’t feel like making your crust you could use a store-bought graham cracker crust (I would go with the one that has 2 extra serving just to be sure it’s large enough). To start, I processed miniature pretzels and a few waffle cones along with brown sugar in my food processor until it was finely ground. I then added in a stick of melted butter and processed it a few times until it appeared to be wet sand. Next, I pressed it an even layer along the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish I sprayed with cooking spray. After baking and cooling it was ready for the filling.
To make the filling, I used my stand mixer to whisk together peanut butter and cream cheese along with a spice mixture, honey, vanilla extract and salt. Once that was well combined, I gradually whisked in heavy cream. I set the peanut butter filling aside and then whipped up a batch of whipped cream sweetened with honey and the remaining spice mixture. I then folded in some of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and then transferred it to the prepared pie crust. Finally, I spread the remaining whipped cream over the filling and then refrigerated the pie overnight.
Before serving the pie, I sprinkled cinnamon over the whipped cream along with roasted salted peanuts and chocolate curls. To make the chocolate curls I microwaved a chocolate bar for about 10 seconds in the microwave and then used a vegetable peeler to shave it.
The first thing I noticed about this pie was that it wasn’t sweet, not that I am complaining. But there is definitely a difference when you sweeten anything with honey versus sugar. I like to think it’s a tad but healthier. As for the crust, you get hints of the waffle cones and a slight saltiness thanks to the pretzels. Overall, all the flavors worked well together.
Peanut Butter Chai Pie with a Sweet & Salty Pretzel and Waffle Cone Crust
For the Crust:
2 cups miniature pretzels
6 (5 ½-inch) waffle cones, broken into pieces (about 4oz.)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus more for topping
3/4 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
For the Topping:
Roasted Salted Peanuts
For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Add the pretzels, waffle cones and sugar to the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground and well combined. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie dish and press into the bottom and up the sides of the dish in an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, until the crust is set and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before using.
For the Filling:
In a small bowl stir together the spices – cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice and nutmeg – and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla extract, salt and 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon-cardamom mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
With the mixer running, gradually add in a 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. Beat until well combined and fluffy. Transfer the peanut butter – cream cheese mixture to a large bowl.
Clean the mixing bowl and whisk the remaining heavy cream (2 cups), honey (2 tablespoons) and cinnamon-cardamom mixture in the bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
Fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into the peanut butter-cream cheese mixture until no streaks remain. Transfer the mixture to the prepared crust and spread into an even layer. Top with the remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 4 hours.
Garnish the top of the pie with cinnamon, peanuts and chocolate curls.
To make chocolate curls: Microwave a chocolate bar for about 10 seconds in the microwave – you want it soft but not on the verge of melting. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the chocolate into curls.
Recipe from Food & Wine – Peanut Butter Chai Pie and Sweet & Salty Pie Crust