I might have used every every whisk/mixing item for this dessert but the pile of dishes was worth it.

Celebrations usually call for cake but I submit this humble chocolate brown pie as a replacement for your usual mile high frosting heaped on a layer cake. Because this chocolate mousse is rich on your tastebuds but melts on your tongue, only leaving you reaching for another forkful. The crisp tart shell is flecked with coffee and tricks my mind. Those dark specks in the dough usually are vanilla but the smoky coffee makes the chocolate sing here.

And the real workhouse in the whole thing isn’t even seen when you place this pie on the table. The peanut butter mousse comes together in minutes and shines against the chocolate mousse but would be just as welcome slathered in between layers of cake straight spoonfuls from the bowl.

I won’t say this recipe goes quickly but the steps can be broken up. Mix the tart dough up to two days before you assemble the pie. The extra time in the fridge won’t do the dough any harm, might just need a few more minutes to warm up before you press it into the pan and bake the dough off. And if the idea of standing over a quasi-double boiler mixing eggs yolk for nearly 15 minutes isn’t in your schedule you can still have a great dessert. Make the peanut butter mousse, I implore you! It takes less than ten minutes. No one will complain if you slick a baked tart shell with chocolate hazelnut spread and top it with the peanut butter mousse.

Any other day I might be doing the same, but sometimes using all the whisks is worth it. There is no complaining when bringing the dessert to a going away/congrats on your new job party. And after years of toiling away in small market television, my dear friend deserves every pie I can make.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Mousse Pie

pie overhead

Some notes on the recipe: I forgot to pick up semi-sweet chocolate at the store and ended up making a run to a convenience store down the street and they only had milk chocolate. To compensate for the extra sweetness, I dialed back the sugar and milk chocolate, and added a tablespoon of cocoa powder. I subbed out the vanilla for instant coffee to highlight the chocolate the flavor and mirror the tart shell. 

Assembly: To me, the peanut butter mousse is sturdier than the chocolate so I layer it first in the tart shell and then heap on the chocolate mousse. You could really gild the lily here and shave some more chocolate on the top of the pie or add whipped cream but as is it just fine, more than fine.

Coffee Tart Shell
Feel free to substitute the coffee with an equal amount of vanilla or citrus zest for a different flavor profile
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Ingredients
  1. 12 Tablespoons of salted butter, room temperature
  2. ½ cup white sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules
  4. 1 yolk from a large egg
  5. 1 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer whip together the butter, white sugar and coffee granules until combined
  2. Add the egg yolk and mix again until incorporate into the sugar/butter mixture
  3. With the mixer on low slowly add the flour and mix until the bowl looks like it's full of wet crumbly sand.
  4. Press the dough into the tart shell and refrigerate until firm, at least a half hour
  5. When you're ready to bake off the tart, preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  6. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with dried beans (Pie weights are more expensive and I've been using the same dried out black beans that cost me a dollar for years)
  7. Bake the shell with 20 minutes then remove the foil and pie weights and cook for another 20-25 minutes till the shell is golden.
  8. Let cool and fill with your yummy pie filling of choice
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
big taste TINY SPACE http://bigtastetinyspace.com/
Chocolate Mousse
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 2 tablespoons water
  5. 7 ounces of milk chocolate,
  6. 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  7. 8 tablespoons salted butter, soften and cut into 8 pieces
Instructions
  1. Cold cream whips best so I like to keep heavy cream in the back of the fridge and stash a mixing bowl in the freezer for a few minutes before I get started. If you need cardio then you can make whipped cream by hand with a whisk but I am glad we have electricity and happily use an electric mixer on high speed to whip my cold cream in my freezing cold bowl till it transforms to stiff peeks and I want to eat the whole bowl. This usually takes 3 or 4 minutes. Then the bowl of whipped cream gets stashed in the fridge.
  2. Melt the chocolate: If you have a microwave, heat the chocolate in the microwave for 30 second increments, stirring between heats until almost all of the chocolate is melted. The residual heat of the melted chocolate will melt the rest. Then stir in the coffee. For the microwave-less, melt the chocolate over very low heat on the stove top, stirring often, and then add the coffee. Set aside and focus on the eggs.
  3. To get started on the egg mixture place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water(not boiling!) but make sure the bowl isn't touching the water. Crack the eggs into the bowl and add the sugar and water. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on medium speed until eggs are thickened and the temperature is between 160-170 degrees. This is the only cooking the eggs will get.
  4. Take the bowl of the heat and continue beating the eggs for about 7 or 8 minutes, until they're room temperature and are fluffed up.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate to the egg mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Then drop in pieces of butter, one at a time, and mix until they disappear into the chocolate egg batter.
  6. Switching to a spatula, add the whipped cream to the chocolate. I add a little whipped cream at a time and fold it until there a few white streaks. You want to be as light as possible with this so you don't deflate the cream.
  7. Cover the mousse with cling wrap so it doesn't form a skin and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours until the mousse fully sets.
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
big taste TINY SPACE http://bigtastetinyspace.com/
Peanut Butter Mousse
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. pinch of kosher salt
  4. 1 cup heavy cream, divded
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the peanut butter, brown sugar and half of the heavy cream. You want the sugar and cream to full incorporate into the peanut butter, not just sloshe around the peanut butter in the bowl.
  2. In another bowl whip the reaming 1/2 cup of cream until stiff peaks form. Should take just a few minutes using a hand mixer on high.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture, being careful not to deflate the whipped cream.
Adapted from Epicurious
Adapted from Epicurious
big taste TINY SPACE http://bigtastetinyspace.com/

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