Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie & Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

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This year, my older brother got quite the home-cooked birthday meal. My mom and younger brother made dinner, which featured all of my brother’s favorite flavor combinations — buffalo sauce with a gorgonzola spinach artichoke dip to accompany chicken cutlets and baked onion rings. And for dessert, the winning combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

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My brother sent me a recipe for a chocolate peanut butter pie made with Nutter Butters, so I set out to recreate the recipe using homemade ingredients. I wanted to make homemade peanut butter cups instead of using Reese’s, and based on everyone’s reactions, I’m sure I’ll be making these again soon.

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I also wanted to use natural ingredients for other components of the pie such as the crust, which uses almond flour as a perfect base that complements the peanut butter. And to keep the pie a bit lighter, I used mascarpone as an alternative to cream cheese and coconut cream as a substitute for heavy cream. I decided not to mess with the Nutella, since you really can’t improve the delicious chocolate hazelnut spread.

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The pie takes a while to set, but once it does, it is delicious straight from the freezer. The Nutella layer is sweet and refreshing, resembling chocolate hazelnut ice cream. The peanut butter mascarpone layer is light and not too sweet, and the crust is a strong anchor. Though I did like the peanut butter cookie crust, next time I might try a chocolate cookie crust instead to balance out the peanut butter cream.

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I had planned to top the pie with more of the peanut butter cups, but these homemade chocolates proved to be a popular dessert on their own. I think the pie held its own as well without too much candy accompaniment.

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I’m glad I got to make a new dessert — which I think will be requested again next year — for my brother’s birthday. Over the next three months, we have three more birthdays in my family, and I can’t wait to experiment with everyone else’s favorite desserts. Stay tuned for more summer birthday treats!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

 Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Makes 24 mini peanut butter cups

–       3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

–       1 ½ cup natural creamy peanut butter

–       2 tbs. honey

–       ¼ cup powdered sugar

–       2 tsp. vanilla extract

–       sprinkle of sea salt

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler on the stove. Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray or use mini muffin liners. Spoon about a tablespoon of chocolate into each muffin tin, spreading out the chocolate to create an even layer and to coat the sides as well. In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey, powdered sugar, and vanilla until combined. Spoon about 1 tsp. of the peanut butter mixture into each muffin tin. Completely cover the peanut butter dollops with the remaining melted chocolate. Sprinkle sea salt on top of each peanut butter cup, and place in the refrigerator to harden for at least two hours.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Inspired by Crazy for Crust

Crust:

–       2 cups almond flour

–       1 cup natural creamy peanut butter

–       ¼ cup agave

–       pinch of salt

Mix together all ingredients until combined. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Peanut Butter Cream:

–       1 cup natural creamy peanut butter

–       8 oz. mascarpone

–       ¼ cup agave

–       pinch of salt

Stir together all ingredients with an electric mixer until incorporated and fluffy.

Nutella Cream:

–       1 14-oz. can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

–       1 cup Nutella

Whip the cream from the coconut milk with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add Nutella, and mix until combined.

To Assemble:

Spoon the peanut butter cream onto the baked cookie crust, and smooth for an even layer. Reserve ¼ cup of the cream for decorating the pie, if desired. Next, add the Nutella cream over the peanut butter layer. Freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Right before serving, decorate if desired by piping the peanut butter cream on top of the cake. Top with one or multiple homemade peanut butter cups.

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Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies

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This has been quite the summer thus far. I left my job at the beginning of June, started a new job — where I worked for three weeks before deciding it wasn’t the right fit — and moved out of my apartment (almost). Amid all of this change, I also got to visit Toronto and Niagara Falls with my family and spend a weekend laying on the beach in Montauk with some friends from college.

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This summer, I’m also lucky enough to get to travel to Israel through the Birthright program. As part of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, young Jewish people between the ages of 18 and 26 get a 10-day all-expenses paid trip to Israel. I went to Israel in the summer of 2008 with my family and loved the culture, food, and landscape. I can’t wait to go back, meet new people, and eat delicious Israeli food.

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Tahini is known mostly as the essential ingredient that gives hummus its creamy texture and slightly nutty taste. And though I love hummus, tahini can be much more versatile. Though tahini is a little too salty to eat like other nut butters, when combined with agave and chocolate chips, it provides a wonderful yet unexpected base to this sweet and savory cookie.

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I was inspired to make a tahini cookie when I saw a recipe in a recent Birthright newsletter. The original recipe called for granulated sugar and butter, so I knew I would make something a bit different when I set out to make my own. It’s not that I don’t like using butter and sugar in baking — no question, they turn out delicious treats. But, typically when I bake, I like to make healthier sweets that I can snack on. Cue the agave and gluten-free flour. Similar to natural peanut butter in consistency, tahini contains plenty of oil, so I didn’t even have to make another addition.

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Add as little or as many chocolate chips as you like, but I will say that my family requested more chips. Maybe it’s just my family’s collective sweet tooth, or maybe more chocolate is generally preferred. My family is also split on whether these cookies are better straight from the freezer or at room temp. (I like the freezer option, especially in this 90 degree heat). Give these cookies a try, let me know how they turn out and what you, your family, and friends think of this surprising treat.

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Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies 

–       2 eggs

–       2 tbs. vanilla extract

–       ½ cup agave

–       ¼ cup milk (I used almond milk)

–       1 cup tahini

–       3 cups flour (I used gluten-free)

–       ½ tsp. baking powder

–       1 tsp. baking soda

–       ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

–       2 tbs. sesame seeds

Combine wet ingredients, and stir until incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and mix until dry ingredients are incorporated into the dough. Add the chocolate chips, and stir until combined. Spoon cookies onto lined cookie sheets, press down with a fork, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until cookies are golden brown.