by Elizabeth Dengler, The Huckleberry Home
Do you have a family member that you love to talk with because they make you laugh or set you straight or give awesome advice? Family that just being with them makes your day? That’s how it is with my family, we’re loud and we laugh and when we’re together we’re even louder and laugh even harder. I had the opportunity to talk with my Aunt Michal the other morning specifically because I wanted her peanut butter pie recipe to share with our readers this summer. She and I ended up being on the phone for a good hour and fifteen minutes. It was the best way to spend my morning. She gave me the recipe, but even more was the love and laughter, memories and advice and gratitude we shared. I’m the only relative that lives west of the Mississippi. I don’t often get the opportunity to visit with my family. But before I moved to the Evergreen State, I got together with them frequently. My Aunt Michal would have everyone over and always whipped up something tasty for Sunday dinners and celebrations. Twenty five years ago, when I first got out on my own and long before I knew how to cook much of anything, I called my aunt after a very confusing visit to the grocery store.
“Aunt Michal, what kind of ground beef am I supposed to get? There’s all these different numbers?”
“Well, do you want what you’re making to taste good,” she asked.
“Then buy 80/20. More fat tastes better. 90/10 is for when you don’t want it to shrink.”
And that’s how I decide what ground beef to buy to this day.
Aunt Michal is known for many amazing tasting dishes. In fact, I can’t think of one dish she’s made that I don’t like. This amazing woman knows how to make top notch tasting food on a limited food budget. One of her most loved recipes that was served at many a family reunion and get-together is her Peanut Butter Pie. I have memories of my dad opening up Aunt Michal’s freezer and helping himself to his own pie plate. Aunt Michal assured me that while she never made my dad a personal peanut butter pie she always made multiple pies so there’d be enough for everyone to enjoy. The history of this pie starts over 30 years ago. As she described, “at that time, we didn’t have a pot to piss in”. Father’s Day was coming up and for my Uncle Tim’s special day she wanted to make a special treat. She found a recipe for peanut butter pie in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper and thought she’d give it a go. It was a HUGE hit and from then on has been part of her “repertoire”.
As Aunt Michal points out, this pie is very flexible. You can make triple batches, you can switch out ingredients, you can make it look fancy, and the bonus is all the ingredients are store brand. Aunt Michal went on to tell me the different ways she’d serve it up to look fancy and I was so perplexed. Never, in all the years that I’ve had this pie, did it ever have whipped cream or chocolate sauce, it was a slice of pie. She then said, “it depended on who was coming over or how far back in the line you were if you got the fancy version”. I couldn’t help but roll with laughter as I figured that my cousins and I didn’t warrant the “fancy” peanut butter pie version. So, basic or fancy, my hopes are that this pie will be as big a hit for your family as it is for mine.
Peanut Butter Pie, from the kitchen of Michal Ewing
2 store brand graham cracker pie crusts (or feel free to make your own)
1 jar of hot fudge sauce (NOT chocolate syrup, you’ll find this sauce in the ice cream topping section of the store)
1.75 quarts of store brand vanilla ice cream (look for the box of ice cream)
15 oz jar of store brand crunchy or smooth peanut butter
Optional toppings to make it fancy:
Whipped Cream or cool whip
Crushed peanuts/sundae topping
Mini Reese’s cups
Soften the container of ice cream in your mixing bowl, you are not out to melt it, and in this heat softening will happen quickly. You want it to get to a point where you can break it up with a wooden spoon for mixing. While your ice cream is softening, remove the plastic covering from your pie crusts. Spoon a layer of the fudge sauce to coat the bottom of the pie crust. Set aside. In your stand mixer with paddle attachment start mixing your ice cream on low (handheld mixers and elbow grease work too, but as Aunt Michal points out the Kitchen Aid will change your life). Once your ice cream is smooth, add the entire jar of peanut butter and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Equally divide the ice cream mixture between your two pie crusts. Smooth the tops, cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.
When you’re ready to serve, set the pies on the counter for 10 minutes to make slicing easier (this never happened in my family, nobody could ever wait that long). Slice each pie into 8 pieces (or however many you like) and serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. As my Aunt Michal said, “when you serve it looking all fancy, people will think you worked your ass off.”