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Of all the classic food combinations in the culinary world—peanut butter and jelly, french fries and ketchup, chips and guacamole—my very favorite is peanut butter and chocolate. Up until I made this pie, I thought that the best incarnation of these was the peanut butter cup, but now I have a new love, and its name is black bottom peanut butter mousse pie. It's changed the way I think about the concept of black bottom pies. I used to consider them a bit of a cheat; take any old pie, bake a layer of brownie into the bottom, and ta-da! Fantastic! I had never considered lining the bottom with other chocolate substances, like a cooled layer of chocolate that falls somewhere between ganache and pudding. This is something I plan to make a habit of doing in the future.
The chocolate "substance" was the result of a lazy cooking session, during which I had intended to make ganache (which requires heavy cream and chocolate), but discovered that I only had a little bit of cream in the fridge. Rather than run out to the store, I supplemented with whole milk, brought it to a boil, and poured it over chopped, 65% chocolate. The chocolate melted, and I kept whisking. I got a bowl full of very thick hot chocolate, not the desired effect. Hoping to salvage, I returned the mixture to the saucepan, and started whisking it over low heat. It thickened. It got darker and began to simmer. Once it became pudding-like, I removed it from the pan and chilled it for the night. The chilled substance was glorious. Thicker and richer than pudding, with a pure flavor, free of corn starch.
The chocolate layer complements the mousse perfectly. Made from peanut butter, confectioner's sugar, and whipped heavy cream, the mousse is light, sweetly salty, and packs a peanut butter punch. Throw in some crunch from the graham cracker crust, and there you have my new favorite cream pie.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evilliagekitchen.