The best friendships are balanced. They require a certain amount of smoothness and roughness, of lightness and darkness, and even sweetness and saltiness. Finding friends like this, the yin to your yang, is rare. I am fortunate enough to have a handful of strong and balanced friendships, some are old and some are new, but all are solid. I think of my dearest friends and I often wonder how I have been lucky enough to not only meet these incredible people but to also have formed such an unbreakable bond with each of them. Whether we were brought together over ex-boyfriends, horrible bosses, friends of friends or just had an instant connection, they are all so deeply special to me.
My friend, Troy is no exception. He has actually been my husband’s BFF since junior high school. Their love of biking, spandex (I’ll spare you the photos) and music brought them close 20 something years ago and together they still enjoy 2/3 of those passions. I have been lucky enough to get to know Troy over the past 13 years and I feel like he is the brother I never had. We give each other shit like siblings and we can bro out with the best of ’em.
As fate would have it, our good ol’ pal Troy moved down to the Bay Area just months before we did, rounding out our California family circle. It’s been a blast to explore this new city with an old friend. There have been a lot of firsts in our new lives and recently we celebrated Troy’s first birthday in the bay. I wanted to make him something special, something old and something new to commemorate this occasion.
Over the years, I have heard many of Dayn and Troy’s colorful stories from their teen years, so many times that I actually start to question whether I was there with them or not. They tell of tales from late nights at their local diner/pie house which include their most cherished memories and favorite eats. Troy always ordered the Beef Stroganoff (barf) followed by the Peanut Butter Pie. He’s always been more of a savory character than a sweet savorer. Perfect, I knew that peanut butter pie would make for a great birthday treat! But, just that wouldn’t suffice. I wanted to both evoke old memories and make some new memories here. So, I upped the ante and incorporated a crunchy pretzel crust and topped the pie with salt peanuts and pretzels.
Like an old friend, this Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie recipe is a balanced blend of all the right things. The smooth and creamy texture is broken up by the crunchy, crispy crust. The heavy peanut butter and cream cheese filling is lightened up with fluffy whipped cream. And the saltiness is leveled out by the rich and smooth chocolate ganache. This pie is perfectly balanced in flavor, texture and personality.
I was so pleased to present Troy with his birthday pie. It stirred up old memories and hopefully made some new ones. Happy birthday, Tee Ess. Hope you enjoyed the pie as much as we enjoy your friendship.
In the end, the birthday boy was quite pleased with his pie. While enjoying his birthday slice, he paused, closed his eyes and then looked down to reveal that the pie had induced a physical reaction in him. Ewww, get your minds out of the gutter people…goosebumps, the pie gave him goosebumps. I guess this just goes to show you, the proof is in the pie. This thing is that good.
- mini pretzels (or whatever style you prefer) - 4 cups (2 cups of crushed pretzels)
- unsalted butter - 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks)
- brown sugar - 1/4 cup
- heavy cream - 2 cups
- powdered sugar, sifted - 1 cup
- cream cheese, softened - 8 ounces
- creamy peanut butter - 12 ounces
- pure vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- finely chopped dark chocolate (60%) - 8 ounces
- heavy cream - 1 cup
- roughly chopped salted peanuts - 1/2 cup
- mini pretzels - 1/2 - 1 cup
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling - 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- If you have a food processor, use it to crush the pretzels into small sandy granules. If not, you can crush them by hand by placing the pretzels in a ziplock bag and hammering on them with a rolling pin. Once the pretzels are crushed, set aside in a large bowl.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Once the butter has fully melted, add the brown sugar. Stir until the brown sugar has fully dissolved into the melted butter. Pour the butter mixture over the ground pretzels and mix until the butter has fully coated all of the pretzel crumbs.
- Pour the coated pretzels crumbs into a greased 10" springform pan. Firmly press the crumbs to form a crust along the bottom and about an inch up the sides of the pan.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until the crust begins to turn a deep golden brown and hardens into a single solid crust. Place the crust, still in the pan, on a cooling rack to cool.
- To prepare the pie filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of heavy cream until it holds medium peaks. Lightly beat in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks, this wont take long.
- Transfer the whipped cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate it until needed. Replace the whisk with paddle attachment, and beat the softened cream cheese with the peanut butter, remaining powdered sugar and vanilla until well combined. Scraping the sides down a couple of times to fully combine.
- Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream to form a light and airy mousse. Transfer the mousse into the cooled crust. Use the back of a spatula to evenly distribute the mousse and smooth out the top.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight; covering with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
- To prepare the ganache and finish the pie: Once the mousse has fully set, prepare the ganache. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl and set aside.
- Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, careful not to burn or boil the cream. Pour the simmering cream directly over the chocolate and let stand until the chocolate has softened, about 5 minutes.
- Using a whisk, blend the melted chocolate and cream together until smooth and glossy. Allow the ganache to cool slightly.
- Remove the prepared pie from the refrigerator and carefully pour the ganache over the center of the pie, it will naturally spread from the center outward. If the ganache doesn't completely reach the edges of your pie, simply pick it up and tilt the pie in the direction you want the ganache to spread. Slowly turning the pie until it is fully covered in ganache.
- While the ganache is still gooey and tacky, arrange the pretzels and salted peanuts in desired design on the top of the pie. Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt and chill until ready to serve.
- When serving, carefully unbuckle the springform pan and remove the outer ring to reveal a beautiful multi-layered pie.
- *For added beauty, transfer the pie to a cake stand, but be careful the pretzel crust is slippery and can be tricky to cut. If you have extra peanut butter, ganache or whipped cream, add a dollop to the center of the cake stand before placing the pie on top to help keep the pie in place.
- *Once the pie is prepared, it can be chilled in either the refrigerator or the freezer.