Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mousse Pie

It’s Pi Day! A day not only to celebrate the irrational number pi – 3.14 – but also a great excuse to enjoy a slice of pie or a slice from a pizza pie! Truthfully, it’s never crossed my mind to make pizza to celebrate the day. Maybe I should do that next year. For this year though I am bringing you a pie that is probably among the top 5 pies I have ever made. If you didn’t know, I am not a big pie eater. I love dessert, but I am not partial to desserts that are overly sweet or over the top (like those crazy milk shakes that were all the rage a few years ago) and unfortunately, I find a lot of pies to be extremely sweet. But this one I am bringing you today is just the right amount of sweetness and pairs two things that always go well together… peanut butter and chocolate. It’s a Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mousse Pie.

To begin I made the crust for the pie. In my food processor I pulsed 12 graham crackers into crumbs and then added in sugar and melted butter and pulsed everything together a few more times. I then transferred the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and pressed it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I used the bottom of a glass to get the crumbs spread out evenly and the sides of the glass to press them evenly along the sides. I placed the pan on a baking sheet and then baked the crust in a 350 F preheated oven for 10 minutes. I then let it cool on a wire rack while I worked on the chocolate mousse.

To make the chocolate mousse I combined semi-sweet & bittersweet chocolate chips along with vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and instant espresso coffee in a small bowl. I boiled heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan and then poured it over the chocolate chip mixture and stirred everything together to melt the chocolate chips. I continued stirring until the mixture was smooth and then let it cool to room temperature stirring it occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes. In a medium bowl I whipped additional heavy whipping cream along with confectioners’ sugar until it was stiff.

I then gently folded the cooled melted chocolate into the heavy whipped cream. I continued folding the two together until they were well incorporated and no streaks of either the whipped cream or melted chocolate remained. I made sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as I folded.

I then spread the chocolate mousse into the cooled graham cracker crust and refrigerated it while I made the peanut butter mousse.

To make the peanut butter mousse I beat heavy whipping cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks formed and I set it aside. In another medium bowl I beat together cream cheese, creamy peanut butter, vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth.

Then, I folded the two together just as I did the chocolate mousse, until no streaks of the peanut butter mixture or whipped cream remained, and once again I made sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as I folded.

I then spread the peanut butter mousse over the chocolate mousse…

And placed the pie in the refrigerator overnight so both mousses could set.

Now, you could enjoy the pie as is, but I decided to spruce it up a little. I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and creamy peanut butter in the microwave and put each in a piping bag, snipped off the end and drizzled each on top of the pie. I then made whipped cream and piped dollops of it around the pie using a Wilton 1M tip and finally I quartered 3 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and placed them on top of the whipped cream. By the way, I had no clue that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups had gotten so small. The packaging is still the same size, but I am sure the candy itself has shrunk a little since I was a kid.

I kept the pie refrigerated until about 15 minutes before slicing and stored the leftovers in the refrigerator. This pie is delicious. It’s the perfect amount of each the peanut butter mousse and the chocolate mousse. Both complement each other very well, as peanut butter and chocolate always do, and neither mousse overpowers the other.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mousse Pie

Ingredients:

For the Graham Cracker Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

 

For the Chocolate Mousse:

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso coffee*

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

 

For the Peanut Butter Mousse:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 of an 8oz. block)

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon milk

 

To Decorate:

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

 

*It’s not necessary to use the instant espresso. I had it on hand and coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

For the graham cracker crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium bowl and then press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until ready to use.

For the chocolate mousse: Combine the semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips, vanilla extract, salt and instant espresso in a heatproof bowl. Stir together and set aside. In a small saucepan boil 1/2 cup of the heavy whipping cream. Pour over the chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Beat remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream along with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff and then fold into chocolate. Spread the chocolate mousse into the bottom of the graham cracker crust and refrigerate while making the peanut butter mousse.

For the peanut butter mousse: In a medium bowl beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In another medium bowl beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and then the milk, beating until the mixture is smooth and everything is combined. Fold in the whipped cream. Spread the peanut butter mousse over the chilled chocolate mousse in the crust.

Refrigerate the pie at least 6 hours or overnight before decorating or serving.

To decorate the pie: In a microwave safe bowl melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring between each interval. Once melted transfer to a piping bag and snip the end (or a resealable bag and snip off a corner) and drizzle over the pie.

In another microwave safe bowl melt the peanut butter in the microwave 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until the peanut butter is a pourable consistency. Transfer to a piping bag and snip the end (or a resealable bag and snip off a corner) and drizzle over the pie.

In a medium bowl beat the heavy whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar together until it’s stiff. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large star or round piping tip and pipe dollops of whipped cream around the pie.

Slice and enjoy!

Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Mousse modified from Epicurious

Peanut Butter Mousse modified from Wishes and Dishes

Cookie Palooza: Spicy Chocolate Cookies

Winter is the perfect time to enjoy a warm mug of hot chocolate. I am partial to peppermint hot chocolate myself. Today’s Cookie Palooza cookie, Spicy Chocolate Cookies, has all the decadence of hot chocolate in one bite, but, with the addition of cinnamon and cayenne pepper they are reminiscent of a Mexican Hot Chocolate. Don’t fear though, the cayenne doesn’t make these super spicy or anything. It’s actually a nice complement to the chocolate. And the chocolate chunks added to the cookies melt perfectly while baking to create a nice smooth texture within them. To top them off, they are rolled in turbinado sugar before baking… Yum!

Spicy Chocolate Cookies

  • Servings: 30 Cookies
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, cayenne pepper and baking soda.

In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and dark brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

Place the turbinado sugar in a small bowl. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough and then roll into a ball and gently roll in the turbinado sugar and then place on the prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake in the preheated oven for 11 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies begin to crack slightly. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection

A Bake ‘n Fill Fail

Recently while doing a little cleaning and organizing I came across something I purchased years ago and never used… A Betty Crocker Bake ‘n Fill Cake Pan. The pans were still in their plastic wrapping. Not really sure why I never used it, but having come across it I figured there was no time like the present to try it out. And obviously from the title of this blog post I wasn’t that successful! The cake part was fine, the fail was the filling… So, we’ll say it was a Bake ‘n Fail!

In case you have no clue what I am talking about. These pans were sold in a set by Better Crocker years ago. They first came out in the early 2000’s. Below is a link to the infomercial if you are curious. The whole idea was that you are able to create cakes with fillings (ice cream, fruit, another cake, etc.) or make a cool design like a baseball or a lady bug.

Betty Crocker Bake ‘n Fill Pan

I decided to follow a recipe for a Chocolate Mocha Cake with Chocolate Mousse Filling that was in the recipe book that came with the pans. I began by prepping two of the pans – the inside of the tall pan and bottom of the insert pan (this is the pan that makes the cavity in the cake so it can be filled). Normally I spray my pan with baking spray, but, I decided to follow the directions and greased them with shortening and then coated them with flour. Next, I prepped the batter. I added all of the ingredients for it into a large bowl and beat them with a hand mixer until they were blended together. I then poured it into the tall pan.

Next, I placed the insert pan over the tall pan and locked it into place and then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Thankfully the insert pan has small holes in it, which I am assuming is to allow the cake to “breathe” while baking, but, I used them to insert a cake tester to see when the cake was done.

After removing the pan from the oven I let it cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes…

And then I removed the insert pan and let the cake cool completely in the pan for about an hour.

Next I made the filling. In a saucepan I combined heavy whipping cream, sugar and coffee liqueur. I cooked it over medium heat until the sugar dissolved. After removing it from the heat I stirred in semi-sweet chocolate chips with a wire whisk until they were melted. And finally I stirred in vanilla extract before transferring the mixture to a large bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a chilled medium bowl I beat additional heavy whipping cream with a hand mixer until stiff peaks formed. I then folded the heavy whipping cream into the cooled chocolate mixture.

And finally I spooned the whipped chocolate mixture into the cavity of the cake and then refrigerated the cake thinking that the filling would firm up. It never did! I even put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes and that did nothing to it as well. So, I gave up and decided to invert the cake out of the pan and do my best not to make a mess. Well, taking the cake out of the pan was no easy feat. I had to pry a flexible spatula between the cake and the pan to loosen the cake. I was FINALLY able to invert the cake out and surprisingly didn’t make a complete mess with the mousse filling that was definitely not mousse-consistency.

While I thought about throwing in the towel at this point I decided to go ahead and make the frosting for the cake. I added additional heavy whipping cream to a small saucepan and heated until it was hot. I then stirred in semi-sweet chocolate chips and stirred the mixture until the chocolate was melted. After letting the mixture cool for a few minutes it was the perfect consistency to frost the cake.

I won’t show you what happened when I sliced into the cake. As you can imagine the filling just, I hate to use the word ooze, but, that’s pretty much what it did. It did taste good though! And I was able to spoon it over the cake after slicing myself a piece so it wasn’t a total loss. So, will I attempt to use the pan again? Absolutely, but, I think the next filling will be something like whipped cream folded with some fresh berries, or, I will use the filling I normally make for my other cakes. Oh, and yeah, I will be using baking spray next time. It hasn’t left a cake stuck in a pan for me yet!

Cookie Palooza – No Bake Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week of cookies. I’m ending Cookie Palooza 2017 with an easy no bake cookie that only requires three ingredients, four if you count the sprinkles… Peppermint Chocolate Wafers.

First ingredient… Melted semi-sweet chocolate. I melted the chocolate using a double-boiler. You could melt the chocolate in the microwave (which was always my preferred method,) but I find melting the chocolate in a double boiler minimizes the chance of scorching the chocolate and you can keep it warm while you’re working so it will stay smooth and thin. Whereas when you melt it in the microwave after a few minutes the chocolate begins to thicken. Creating a double boiler is quite simple… fill a medium saucepan about a little less than halfway with water – you don’t want to fill it too much because then when you place the bowl in the water it will spill over. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat so the water is simmering. Place a heatproof bowl in the water, add chopped chocolate and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted. Once the chocolate has melted, reduce the flame to low to keep the chocolate warm and add in the peppermint extract (the second ingredient), stir to mix in.

Dip the Nilla Wafers (third ingredient) in the chocolate and flip them over to get them fully covered. The process will go much easier if you have candy dipping tools, but if not a fork will work well. Once cookies are covered lift the cookies out of the chocolate and let the excess drip and then place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with festive sprinkles or crushed peppermint candy/candy canes (fourth ingredient.)

 

Once you are done dipping the cookies place them in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes so the chocolate can harden.

And that’s it! A simple cookie that’s perfect for the season and best of all, doesn’t require you to turn on your oven.

Happy Holidays!!!

Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Cookies

Ingredients:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped*

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

30 – 36 Nilla Wafer cookies

Sprinkles, optional

Directions:

Melt the chocolate using a double boiler on medium to medium low heat. Once the chocolate has melted add the peppermint extract and stir well to combine. Keep the heat on low for the double boiler so that the chocolate will remain smooth and thin.

Dip the wafers in the chocolate one at a time, making sure to coat the entire cookie. Remove from the chocolate and let the excess drip off before placing on a wax paper lined baking sheet to set.

Sprinkle with sprinkles or crushed peppermint candy. Or let the chocolate set for a few minutes and then drizzle with the left-over melted chocolate. Place in the refrigerator so the chocolate can harden. Store in an airtight container.

*You could also use chocolate chips

**The ratio of peppermint extract to chocolate I used was 1/4 teaspoon per 4 oz.

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Coconut is one of those things that people either love or hate. For me, I love coconut. Come the summer I can never pass up getting a Coconut Italian Ice and while I enjoy most flavors of Chobani Greek yogurt my favorite by far is the Almond Coco Loco Flip. So, it’s pretty surprising that I have never had a Coconut Macaroon. I’ve always wanted to make them, but, some other treat makes its way into my oven instead. I finally got around to making them and I must say I wish I had made them sooner!

These were by far one of the easiest cookies I have ever made… They didn’t require a hand or stand mixer and were easily prepared in one bowl. You can’t beat simplicity like that. I began my mixing together shredded sweetened coconut along with sugar, flour, and salt.

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I then added in egg whites and almond extract and mixed the ingredients until they were well blended. Then using a cookie scoop I scooped up the coconut mixture…

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And dropped them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked them in a 325 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

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Once out of the oven I immediately transferred the macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely.

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After they cooled it was time to dip them in melted chocolate. Conveniently I had half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in my fridge. I melted the chocolate in the microwave and then dipped the bottom of each of the macaroons in the chocolate and then placed them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and put them in the fridge so the chocolate could set.

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And since I had some chocolate left-over I decided to enjoy a mid-afternoon snack of chocolate dipped pretzels… You can’t go wrong with sweet & salty!

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Overall these macaroons were delish… With the combination of coconut, almond extract and chocolate they were reminiscent of an Almond Joy candy bar!

 

Coconut Macaroons

Makes 3 Dozen

Ingredients:

1 14oz. package sweetened coconut flakes (5 1/3 cups)

2/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs whites and almond extract until well blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonful (I used a small cookie scoop which yielded 26 macaroons) onto prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bakes for 18-20 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy as is, or dip in melted chocolate for an extra sweet treat!

A Slow Cooker Hit And Half Miss

The cold days of winter call for warm and hearty soups (or stews) to help keep you feeling warm and toasty to beat the winter chill. In a recent issue of Rachael Ray Magazine I came across one such soup that had the added bonus of being made in a slow cooker. A kitchen item I do enjoy using but don’t use often enough.

This stew – a Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew  – was a cinch to make and was ready in about four hours. I began by adding white beans, chopped onions, carrots & celery, garlic, bay leaves and chicken broth to my slow cooker and cooking it on high heat for three and a half hours. I then added sausage meatballs and let them cook in the soup for about twenty-five minutes. Finally, I added in the spinach for the final ten minutes.

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Final verdict… The stew was delicious. I’ll definitely be it making again. But, I think next time I’ll cook the meatballs a little before adding them to the soup.

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Since I had my slow cooker out from obscurity I figured I would finally try making a dessert in it – a Triple Chocolate Brownie recipe I came across from Martha Stewart.

To begin I whisked together my dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

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To get started on my wet ingredients I melted butter and bittersweet chocolate together.

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After giving it a few good stirs I added in sugar and eggs.

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I then folded it into the dry mixture along with walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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I then poured it into my slow cooker, which I sprayed with cooking spray and lined the bottom of with parchment paper.

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I cooked it on low for four hours, the final half hour uncovered.

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After letting it cool in the insert for two hours I flipped out the brownies to sadly discover that the edges were quite burnt and definitely not edible.

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All was not lost though… After some clever cutting I was left with six, albeit irregularly shaped, brownies that were quite tasty and definitely not lacking in chocolate flavor.

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Baking in a slow cooker… definitely not my first choice for delicious desserts, but, I wouldn’t rule out trying it again, just not brownies though!

Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew

Ingredients

1 pound dried large white beans, such as great northern, rinsed and picked through

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 sprigs fresh thyme*

1 bay leaf**

Parmesan rind (optional)*

1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, shaped into 1/2-inch meatballs

1 bunch spinach, trimmed

Juice of 1/2 lemon*

Crusty bread, for serving

Directions

In a large slow cooker, stir together the beans, chicken broth, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using. Cover and cook on high heat until the beans are nearly tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Place the sausage meatballs on top of the beans. Cover; cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Stir in the spinach, then cover and let stand until the spinach wilts, 10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice; season. Serve with crusty bread.

*I omitted these ingredients when I made my soup

**I added in two bay leaves as opposed to just one

Slow-Cooker Triple Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)

Directions

Lightly coat a 5-quart slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and lightly coat with spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted. Add sugar; stir to combine. Stir in eggs. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and chocolate chips and stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Transfer to slow cooker and smooth top.

Cover and cook on low, 3 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 30 minutes. Remove insert from slow cooker and run a knife around edge to loosen brownies. Let cool completely in insert on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Turn out onto a work surface and cut into 14 brownies.