As a food nation, we love to meet new people from different regions and introduce them to our local specialties. In my travels I’ve been introduced to grits and oysters in Florida, guava jelly and surullitos in Puerto Rico, and Joe-Joe potatoes in Rhode Island (I think that’s where we were that day; please correct me if I’m wrong).
My baking and cooking co-workers here at KAF have introduced regional and cultural favorites such as Taylor ham, sweet chili sauce, white pizza, persimmons, and truffle oil. Some I’ve liked, some I’ve met with a big “blechh,” and some are now standards in my own kitchen.
I’ve done my share, too, of introducing friends to local favorites. Are you old enough to remember when Ben and Jerry’s was a new thing, something you would buy when friends were coming to dinner, dessert designed to impress? I sure am.
Here in New England, we love to introduce new friends to the (to us) quintessential lunchtime treat, the Fluffernutter. I know PJ and Susan and I have all probably waxed nostalgic about Fluffernutters on the blog before, but just in case you missed it let me tell you about it again.
A Fluffernutter is a sandwich of peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff served on squishy white bread. The salty peanut butter, the sweet and foamy Fluff and the bread all sticking to the roof of your mouth is a taste and texture sensation not to be missed. Packing a Fluffernutter for lunch always meant a plastic sandwich baggie with sticky Fluff in the corners as it escaped from the confines of the bread. Licking the creamy white sweetness from the bag was nearly as fun as eating the sandwich itself.
I would consider Fluffernutters on the list for DO NOT EAT on a first date, right up there with spaghetti and liver, but definitely on the list for a fourth or fifth date so see if you are suitably matched. Anyone who couldn’t get into the groove of licking fingers, possibly elbows, and enduring a bit of Fluff in their hair wouldn’t work out too well, in my opinion.
As much as I love Fluffernutters, I’ve never really craved one for dessert; but I do so love peanut butter pie. In the way that lots of our food conversations go here, we were talking about peanut butter pie and someone mentioned topping theirs with Fluff instead of whipped cream. OHH, I could feel a blog brewing here. Knowing how sticky Fluff is, though, I couldn’t imagine layering it easily; so I started thinking about mixing the PB and fluff together into a mousse-like filling. Now we were gettin’ somewhere!
A graham crust sounded like a delicious addition – but how about homemade instead of store-bought? Our whole wheat pastry flour is also known as graham flour, so a quick, easy pie crust using that flour quickly followed, and the Peanut Butter Marshmallow Pie was born. Let’s get to it!
This pie crust is very different from traditional pie crust. It’s more closely related to cookie dough in preparation. For those classical bakers out there, it’s quite similar to pâte sucreè, (paht sue-cray) with butter, sugar, milk, and egg.
Begin with creaming the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your mixer until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolk and beat until well combined.
Add 1 cup of the graham flour. At first the mixture will be quite sandy.
But it’ll soon come together to a smooth batter.
Have you been keeping an eye on that butter on the beater? Me too, I’d better scrape my bowl and beater more often.
Add the milk and the second cup of graham flour. Mix until a soft, slightly firm dough forms.
Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for 8 to 10 turns until the dough is smooth and cohesive. Divide into two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
(I did try this dough both with and without refrigeration. You can roll it right away, but you do get a nicer, crisper texture with the chilled dough. Less sticking, too!)
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3/8” thick. To aid in moving the dough to the pie pan, first fold the circle in half,
then in half again. You’ll have a fat, four-layer quarter circle.
Unfold the layers until the crust is open again. Gently fit it to the pan without pulling or stretching, as this would cause the crust to shrink later. Fix any tears with your fingers.
This dough is very soft and tender – like cookie dough – and is a delight to handle. There were ooohhs and ahhhhs in the test kitchen from my fellow bakers as I worked with the dough, and everyone literally had to get a finger in as we took turns poking and pinching the dough.
Trim the crust with a paring knife or your handy-dandy safety scissors. This pretty pie pan has fluted edges build right in, so I didn’t have to do anything but trim.
Dock (prick) the dough all over with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming in the crust, and to allow steam to escape.
Add a pie crust shield to protect the tender edges, and into the oven she goes.
Mmmm, golden brown and delicious. As you can see, there was hardly any shrinkage to the crust too, leaving a nice deep space to fill with PBM goodness.
Set the crust aside to cool completely while we make the filling.
You’ll need heavy cream and fat-free half & half, too.
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and fat-free half & half until it begins to hold a trail.
You can certainly use all cream for the recipe, but taste testers really liked the lightness that the fat-free half & half brought to the party.
Add the sugar/Instant ClearJel mixture, the peanut butter, and the Fluff.
Whip on high speed until light, fluffy, and thickened.
Prepare the crust by spreading a little peanut butter in the bottom.
Pile in the PBM filling. It’s a very generous amount of filling, so really heap it in there.
Cover the pie with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
For another tasty version, try Matt’s PBMJ pie. Matt is the “new guy” here in customer service, and we just love him. He’s a great baker in his own right, and loves to talk food. He suggested the original pie would be even better with a big blob of jelly, so I decided to give him his wish.
Spread half of the PBM filling into the pie shell; make some swirls and depressions with your spoon.
Fill the holes with your favorite jam or jelly. I’m pretty partial to red raspberry.
Give the whole thing a good final swirl with the spatula and top with the second half of the filling. Cover and chill as directed above.
Whichever way you customize your Peanut Butter Marshmallow Pie, its gentle reminder of lunches in days gone by will please the palate and soothe the soul.
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