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THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. The Pie is in Here (Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with Coconut Crust).

This post is dedicated to Queequeg, Scully’s dog who was named after Queequeg. Do you remember when she had a dog? And then he got EATEN!? I do, I’ll always remember.

Guys, I know it’s been a really long time and you’re probably looking for an explanation for my absence. That’s only fair, and you deserve a candid answer. Honestly, I was abducted by aliens. The kind that live really, really far away. And we went on vacation, in New Zealand, in the future, and we had to get there by horse and cart ‘cause the ship ran out of juice. Then when we got there, there was a little trouble validating my visa and I was kept in the airport holding cell until we could contact the embassy, which is really difficult to do from the future. Everyone was pretty tied up I guess, so we called Liam Neeson, which was fruitful since in the future Liam Neeson is not busy at all. I’m sorry that I didn’t let you know sooner, but after a decent probing and a few unbelievable lamb dinners, I’m back. I’m back in a big way.

Here's a group photo of my extraterrestrial buds, drinking some chaammppss.

Here’s a group photo of my extraterrestrial buds, drinking some champs.

It appears that much has transpired since my brush with the extra-terrestrial. Some guy at the Atlantic is clowning on Morgan Spurlock (despite these McDonald’s egg whites having an actual ingredient list), also thinks I’m a rich snob because I eat broccoli. A lot of people on Facebook were really upset that Robin Thicke’s notably large penis wasn’t the feature story in this month’s Rolling Stone (even though I think my dad is probably the only one who actually read the issue).  Oh, and some shirtless photos of both Geraldo Riveira and Chaz Bono have finally surfaced on the internet. About time, America. Sorry I missed your birthday. Bilbo Baggins says hi.

Another holiday that happened during my absence was Father’s day. Obviously I was a little preoccupied resolving an X-File, but say that I wasn’t, I probably would have been eating lobster at my parents’ house, where we could have shared one claw cracker amongst four of us (disgusting), and I probably would have made some sort of accompanying dessert. Let’s all travel back to a time that never was and find out what that dessert could have been!

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie - Alex Marie Lombino

There are things that dads of a certain age share in common (I’m 26, so you do the math; I don’t want to blow up anyone’s spot).  One thing is World War II documentaries. They watch all of them. Maybe that’s a general man thing, but this particular demographic can’t get enough. Band of Brothers marathons also count. Another thing is tucking in shirts. They just love to really tuck ‘em in there good. Lastly, they like peanut butter. I want to believe that this has something to do with the food culture of the 50s and 60s, the inclination towards quick and processed foods, which really took a foothold in American culture during these two decades. Peanut butter is definitely a dad favorite. I can recall times during my childhood when my father would hole up in the kitchen, hovering over a carton of ice cream and a jar of peanut butter, alternating scoops of luscious treats, while watching 60 Minutes. This is probably why after every rigorous gym session, I can be found shoveling that natural type peanut butter and a little drizzled honey into my face crevice with little restraint. It would have been obvious to me, in the event of my attendance to some sort of Father’s day dinner, that peanut butter should play a significant role in this meal. Also my dad said he likes coconut too, so that got incorporated.

Thus I bring you this peanut butter mousse pie with coconut crust. I was actually really shocked at how well the gelatin set in this nut butter-laden bombe*. I was getting really down on myself as soon as I walked away to let it cool, thinking I’d return to find some shapeless peanut goo. But no! Stiff as Ian Mckellan backstage at the Package Tour.

If you have a Dad with whom you’re still on speaking terms, bring him this pie. He will readily lend you $20 for gas, bite his bottom lip while head-bobbing to Elvis Costello and shuffling his feet in a manner reminiscent of John Travolta’s sweaty heroin groove in Pulp Fiction, gliding lightly across the Home Depot linoleum kitchen flooring he laid down himself as he drifts into the late summer sunset.

Oh, and another thing. I mentioned to the man of the hour that it would be awesome to serve this pie with some ice cream, and do you know what he came back from the store with? Rum raisin. Rum raisin ice cream. That’s the shit that dads love.

*I snuck in a vocab word for all you guys taking notes.

  1. Bombe: The egg, cream, gelatin, and flavoring base of a mousse, before the whipped cream has been incorporated

 

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with Coconut Crust

Coconut Crust

12 oz. Coconut flakes, unsweetened
4 tbsp. Butter, melted
¼ cup Flour
1/3 cup Brown sugar
¼ cup Light corn syrup
½ tsp Salt
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 350°

Ya’ll, this is most easy. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process for about 20-30 seconds, until dough is consistent. Remove and shape into a ball then flatten to a thick disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for about 30 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator and use a rolling pin to roll out about ½ inch thick. This is too thick, I know, but the dough is probably very loose, somewhat crumbly. Transfer said crumbly dough to a pie pan and press into the shape of the pan with your fingers. You can use a flat cup to press and even out the dough. It should be about a ¼ inch thick in the end. Trim the excess dough, then place in the oven for about 30 minutes. The crust should be fragrant and golden brown. If you feel that it is browning too quickly, you can always turn your oven down.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Peanut Butter Mousse

4 oz Water
4 tsp Gelatin

6 oz Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
4 oz Sugar
4 Eggs
7 oz Peanut Butter, creamy and unsweetened (I used Whole Foods brand)

4 oz Heavy cream

In a small bowl or cup, sprinkle gelatin over 4 oz of water and put aside to set.

Combine milk, vanilla, and half of sugar in a medium pot and bring to a boil on the stove, whisking occasionally so that the bottom doesn’t burn. In a medium bowl, combine remaining sugar and eggs and whisk together. Never let the sugar rest on the eggs without thoroughly combining them, or this will “burn” the eggs.

Once the milk boils, remove from the heat. Gradually drizzle milk into the eggs, whisking constantly. Once you have added about ¾ of the milk, combine the egg mixture with the rest of the milk in the pot. Return to the stove on medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon (preferably the wooden spoon). The mixture is done cooking when you can run your finger across the spoon without the base running down into that empty space (about 10 minutes, but no more). Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in gelatin, and then peanut butter. Transfer to a new bowl or container to cool.

When you are ready to finish the mousse, whip your cream to very stiff peaks. With a hand beater or in a standing mixture, beat your stiffened peanut butter base until it is smooth and loosened. Add ¼ of the cream to the peanut butter base and stir in to lighten the mixture. Gently fold in the rest of the cream until the color is consistent.

Pour and spread your mousse into the crust, and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Pie - Alex Marie Lombino

 

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Die Clean, White Girl: All Spice Cake with Tart Cherry Filling

Here’s a free little bit of advice before we begin. Never fill your cake pans with batter more than ¾ of the way, because you never know what may happen. They might mushroom out and it’s chaos. I know you want to use all of the batter, I obviously do too. But you can’t play God, you need to know your boundaries. See? Try to look past my filthy oven windows please.

Big cakes

I made a cake this week and there ain’t much else to say about it. It’s a wonderful spiced sponge cake, with a tart cherry filling and addictive cream cheese frosting. I will say that cake construction is a very vulnerable business. It’s not like brownies, no one gives a shit what happens there. With cakes, it’s as though I fear all of the negative energy buried within my bosom has somehow been imparted onto that cake. Kind of like that pie in Thinner, the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Thinner (book). Except instead of making you thinner and consequently bringing to an end your corporeal life, this cake will probably bloat you a little the next morning, as is typical of most cake. I don’t make witchcraft, I make gluten.

Allspice Cake with Cherry Filling - Alex Marie Lombino

Here, I strip myself bare for you. Despite my life-sapping inclination toward perfectionism, I lay it out there for you. I offer you food for gut, fodder for the psyche, dessert for your mouth parts. After the blood has been let, what is left of my body lies prostrate on the kitchen floor, amidst debris of crumbs and fancy. This is an artist’s struggle, a long and winding journey to an unknown destination. Behold cake, my dreams objectified deliciously before you. Judge me not lest I unfriend you on Facebook.

All Spice Sponge Cake

Allspice cake with cherry filling - Alex Marie Lombino

1 cup Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Salt
2 tsp All spice
6 tbsp Butter, melted
5 eggs (2 whole, 3 separated)
1 cup and 2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
½ oz Milk

Preheat oven to 350

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and all spice. Whisk thoroughly and set aside.

Melt butter and allow to cool.

Separate 3 eggs, reserving whites for later use. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine your 2 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and milk. Whisk on high speed for about 5 minutes until eggs are pale yellow and frothy. If you only have one mixer like me and most normal people, transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and wash your mixing bowl and whisk very thoroughly to use in the next step. The cleaning is very important, as eggs whites will not whip with the presence of yolk.

In your mixer, whisk 3 egg whites on med-high speed until they reach soft peaks. Add about 2 more tbsp of sugar to stabilize your whites, then continue to whisk until they reach stiff peaks.

Gently fold dry ingredients into egg yolk mixture. Next, mix about ¼ of egg whites into batter to lighten. Add the rest of the egg whites, and gently but quickly fold into the mixture until there is no more streaking. When egg whites are almost completely folded in, add melted butter and continue to fold quickly until distributed. Immediately distribute batter between two ungreased 8 inch round pans. Bake for approx. (time), until middle of cakes bounce back when touched. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 12-24 hours for easy trimming.

Cherry Filling

16 oz Frozen cherries
2 oz Lemon Juice
3 oz Water
1 ¼ cup Sugar
1 tbsp Corn starch

In a medium sauce pot, combine cherries, half of lemon juice, water, and half of sugar. Bring to a boil on the stove, then lower heat to a simmer and cover pot. Continue to cook cherries until the mixture becomes jam-like and the liquid is reduced by half, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together remaining sugar and corn starch. When cherries have been cooked down to a thin jam consistency, add cornstarch mixture and whisk thoroughly. Bring filling to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes over med-high heat until filling is thickened and starch is cooked out. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill slightly in the refrigerator before assembling cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Note: This is A LOT of frosting. If you are planning to make a smaller cake, feel free to reduce by a third or by half. However, if you make the full batch, you should just eat it on fruit for breakfast, why not?

½ pound (8 oz or 2 sticks) Butter, softened
1 lb Cream cheese
2 cups Confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Salt

In a mixer with a whisk, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth and consistent. Turn mixer down to low and add sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Turn speed back up to whip lightly for 30-60 seconds. You’re done!

To assemble

Cherry Spice Cake - Alex Marie Lombino

Trim the browned edges of your cakes. Spoon cherry filling into the center of the bottom layer, and spread out carefully, leaving a ½ inch to an inch border, depending on the size of your cake. Add second layer on top. Let gravity do most of the work to spread the filling. Frost your cake however you see fit! I did mine in a cake ring, so that’s kind of cheating but incredibly. Garnish with fresh cherries! It’s SUMMER!

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