Every summer, my husband and I throw a backyard party. It’s a tradition we began a few years ago after adding a porch to the back of our house.

I stew over the menu for a month. Do we want to grill? Have a surf ‘n’ turf theme, with chicken and shrimp? Maybe go faux-upscale, with stuffed flank steak and potatoes? How many dishes can we make using the fruits of our garden?

Most important, though …

What will we serve for dessert?

Last summer we hit a home run with homemade ice cream sandwiches. But even they didn’t come close to the raves we received the year we served pie.

It was the inaugural porch party. Thirty or so adults, teens and children scarfed down orange-barbecue chicken, hamburgers, shrimp & scallop couscous, a green garden salad …

… And pie. Lots of pie. Berry pie, chocolate pie, rum-drenched banana pie. The hands-down favorite, though, was a peanut butter-chocolate pie.

pbpie

I love this pie, which comes from Ron Silver and Jen Bervin’s wonderful Bubby’s Homemade Pies. A bittersweet or semisweet chocolate ganache fills the bottom of a graham cracker crust and is topped with mounds of ethereally light (yes, light!) peanut butter mousse. It takes a touch over an hour to whip together and can be made a day or even three ahead, making it the quintessential party pie.

Since introducing it at our first backyard bash, I’ve taken this pie to school luncheons and book clubs. I’ve baked it for friends and for family; for clients and for prospects. It’s my go-to dessert when I’m serving something light, like a seafood chowder or main dish salad. It always pleases, and I never have leftovers.

Hmmm. Maybe I should make two peanut butter pies for this year’s backyard party. I’ll serve one to the guests … and keep one just for me!

Bubby’s Original Peanut Butter-Chocolate Pie

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated chocolate (for decorating the top)

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and stir until evenly combined. Using your fingers, press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Compact the crumbs further by pressing them with the bottom of a measuring cup. Refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pie plate from the fridge or freezer and bake the crust for 8 minutes. Cool completely.

When crust is cool, beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. When the cream holds stiff peaks, remove it to another bowl and chill.

Using a clean mixing bowl, beat the sugar, peanut butter, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. Place a few spoonfuls of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and mix on medium speed to combine evenly. Add the remaining whipped cream, and fold it into the mousse using the mixer’s lowest setting, until all chunks and streaks are gone. Place in the refrigerator.

Melt the chocolate in a saucepan or double-boiler over low heat, stirring until smooth. Add 3/4 cup of heavy cream, stirring constantly, until the cream and chocolate are completely combined. Spread the ganache in the graham cracker crust, covering the bottom and sides as evenly as possible. Chill in the freezer until the ganache is set. (You can omit the freezing, but proceed very carefully so the chocolate and mousse don’t combine.)

Set aside 1/2 cup of the mousse. Remove the pie from the freezer (if you’ve chilled it), and spoon in the remaining peanut butter mixture. Using a pastry bag, pipe the reserved mousse around the edges of the pie. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, then sprinkle with grated chocolate and dig in!

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