People who have known me for any length of time are familiar with the fact that I am not the biggest fan of birthdays. Let’s face it; after the obvious milestones of 16, 18, and 21, the next thing you have to look forward to is 30. And for someone who’s never been 30, that can be a tad depressing. However, the older I get, the more I’m trying to learn to be grateful for each new year. God has blessed me with a lot more than most people have, and getting another year to enjoy all of it should be a gift in and of itself.
While I’m probably still never going to like birthdays, I have always been rather fond of birthday cake. There’s something about putting together a special dessert for a special day that makes even birthdays seem a little brighter. But this year, instead of cake, I decided to finally try something I’ve been wanting to veganize for a long time: peanut butter pie.
The original recipe came from a “collectors edition” Taste of Home magazine that we’ve had around the QV house for who knows how long. The copyright date says 1996, so I have to assume that’s when my mom bought it, but I remember it always being part of our cookbook collection. There are a lot of recipes in it, but the only one I ever remember making is the peanut butter pie. And what a memory. Rich, creamy, peanut-butter-y filling with a chocolate crumb crust, garnished with just a few chocolate chips…it was a family favorite that hasn’t appeared in the house since I went vegan.
I’d thought about veganizing the pie for a long time, but the whipped cream always stood in my way. For ages, there didn’t seem to be any viable vegan alternative. (Yes, I could have used chilled coconut milk, but let’s not talk about how terrifying that is.) Thankfully, there are now at least two readily available whippable vegan “creams:” Soyatoo and Mimiccreme’s Healthy Top. According to the Soyatoo website, the whippable topping is temporarily unavailable due to issues with it’s whippability, but I had no problems with the box that I used. It whipped up nice and fluffy, which is exactly the trait the whipped cream is meant to add to the pie filling.
I used to make the crust out of chocolate graham crackers, but while paging through Vegan Pie in the Sky, I came across the suggestion of using Newman’s chocolate alphabet cookies for cookie crust. Pure genius! If you can’t find them, any chocolate wafer-type vegan cookie will do.
Peanut Butter Pie
adapted from Taste of Home
makes 8-10 big slices, 16-20 small slices
For the crust:
1 1/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
2 tbsp. Earth Balance, melted
Note: This makes a crumbly crust; for a firmer crust, add 1tbsp. more Earth Balance
For the filling:
8oz. vegan cream cheese, homemade or store bought
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. Earth Balance
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup vegan whippable topping, whipped
handful of vegan chocolate chips for garnish, optional
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix cookie crumbs and melted Earth Balance until well combined. Press evenly into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2) In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, Earth Balance, and vanilla until smooth. (You might need to zap everything in the microwave to soften a bit first, depending on how powerful your mixer is.) Fold in the whipped topping. The filling should be well-combined and fluffy.
3) Pour the filling into the prepared crust and garnish with the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, until firm. Serve cold.