My family went on many a camping trip when I was young. Those trips lessened as I got older, probably because I became more snobbish about campground bathhouses, and because my parents became less adventurous. Even so, the memories of hot Summer days spent at the lake, hellish sunburns, and cool Summer nights remain fresh in my mind. The cool Summer nights were, of course, spent around a campfire. It’s a beautiful cliche that I whole-heartedly buy into.
I remember one camping trip with particular fondness. It was the year that one of my aunts doubled her coolness status by creating a s’more bar for me and my chocolate-adoring cousins.
In addition to the customary marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers, she had set out an array of peanut butter cups, Nutella, fresh strawberries, bananas, and numerous candy bars for our s’more-making pleasure. It was heavenly.
Though you might assume that my enthusiasm was partly due to adolescence, I can promise you that I will squeal with delight over a s’mores bar at any age. S’mores are paradisal, and that is all I have to say.
This pie was inspired by the peanut butter cup stuffed s’more. I had been contemplating making a s’mores pie for a good while, but I knew that I wanted to step it up a bit. Why not add some peanut butter mousse? I mean, what could go wrong?
Not one single thing.
This mousse, like all mousses, begins with eggs.
We separate the yolks and whites. The yolks will act as our base while the whites will give the mousse a bit of a facelift later on. Mousse is all about the timing of ingredients - it's important to add each ingredient at the right moment so that we do not lose any of our precious fluffiness.
This mousse uses gelatin as a stabilizer, it helps it stay sliceable come serving time.
Our sweetener comes in the form of corn syrup, granulated sugar and confectioner's sugar. Granulated sugar is a bit too coarse to use as our sole form of sweetness.
After the egg yolks, gelatin, and corn syrup have gotten friendly with one another, a combination of whipped cream, confectioner's sugar, and peanut butter are folded in.
Lastly, using a delicate hand, we fold in the beaten egg whites.
Yeah, it's going to look a little bit like a separated custard. Don't panic, a little time in the refrigerator will take care of that.
Before pouring the mousse into the graham cracker crust, paint your crust with a little chocolate ganache and pop it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
Top with your mousse and move it into the chill chest for a couple hours. I know, waiting is hard...
After the mousse has set up, we top the pie with another layer of ganache, because we don't know when to stop and chocolate is SO good.
The ganache will need a few minutes in the refrigerator to set up, which gives you enough time to make a sugary, sticky, incredibly irresistible, marshmallow topping.
This topping does set up, but it also remains slightly gooey. I like this because it really gives you that melty s'more kind of sensation.
I was really excited that this pie gave me an excuse to use my blowtorch. It really is essential for this recipe because the old "throw it under the broiler" trick would turn our mousse into some sort of peanut butter soup. Ew.
Do not buy one of those fussy kitchen torches, just run up to the hardware store and buy yourself a standard propane torch. It's like having a power tool in your kitchen.
Ah, Summer tastes so good. And we didn't even have to endure campground bathhouses!
I've got to go now, I'm still licking marshmallow off of my fingers.
Peanut Butter S’mores Pies
graham cracker crust adapted from Ina Garten & marshmallow topping adapted from Sweetapolita
for the crust
- 10 graham crackers
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place graham crackers in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse several times until evenly crushed, but not pulverized.
Add sugar, salt, and melted butter and pulse once or twice to bring it together.
Press the graham cracker mixture into a 10-inch tart pan, beginning in the middle and working it up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes and then allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the mousse.
for the mousse
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoons filtered water
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 4 fresh egg yolks
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter*
- 1/2 confectioner’s sugar
- 2 fresh egg whites, cold
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Combine gelatin and water in a small bowl. Set aside.
In the work bowl of your stand mixer combine egg yolks and salt. Beat on medium speed until the yolks lighten in color, about 2 minutes.
Pour corn syrup in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer and place over medium high heat. Cook until the syrup reaches 225 degrees and then remove from heat. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour syrup into the egg yolks.
Return the saucepan to the heat and place the gelatin in the pan. When it has fully melted, remove from the heat and add it to the mixture in the stand mixer. Beat on medium high speed for 4-6 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fluffy, and has tripled in volume.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl and then thoroughly clean the bowl of the stand mixer. Add heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold in the peanut butter.
Fold the peanut butter whipped cream into the mousse mixture, working gently and slowly until it is roughly combined.
Clean the mixing bowl once more, very thoroughly, and add egg whites. Beat on high speed, slowly sprinkling in the granulated sugar, until stiff peaks have formed.
Fold the egg whites into the mousse in three additions, using a spatula and working very gently. Do not worry about a few small lumps or bubbles, they will work themselves out in the refrigerator.
Cover with plastic wrap and place the mousse in the refrigerator while you prepare the ganache.
*I highly recommend natural peanut butter for this recipe because the thinner consistency will make it easier to work the peanut butter into the whipped cream without crushing it.
for the ganache
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
In a small bowl combine chocolate and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir. Continue heating at 30 second increments and stirring after each until the chocolate has fully melted.
Use a pastry brush to paint the graham cracker crust with a layer of ganache. Transfer to the freezer and chill for 10 minutes, until the chocolate has set.
Fill with peanut butter mousse and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 3-4 hours, until set.
Drizzle the top of the pie with another layer of ganache and place in the refrigerator to set while you prepare the marshmallow topping.
for the marshmallow topping
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the work bowl* of your stand mixer combine egg whites and cream of tartar and whip on low speed.
Meanwhile, pour corn syrup into a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer and place over medium-high heat. While the syrup cooks, slowly increase the speed of the mixer, beating until the egg whites have reached stiff peaks. Cook the syrup until it reaches 235 degrees and then remove from heat.
With the mixer on high speed, slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites and beat for 2 minutes, until the meringue is thick and shiny. Reduce speed and add vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar.
Pour the marshmallow topping on top of the pie immediately; it will set up quickly. Use a blow torch to toast the top. Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator until ready to devour. Enjoy!
P.S. Plastic wrap is not your friend with this pie, it loves to stick to the marshmallow topping. However, if you insert a couple toothpicks into the pie and drape the plastic wrap over the pie, forming a makeshift tent, it will keep the pie fresh and the marshmallow pretty.
*It is important that your bowl be very clean, residual grease could negatively affect the marshmallow. You can always use a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to wipe away any grease.