That's Nuts: The Easiest Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

That's Nuts

A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

Note: Lee Zalben, a.k.a. "the Peanut Butter Guy" is the creator of the Peanut Butter & Co., a New York sandwich shop with a national line of nut butters. Every week he chimes in with some nuttiness.

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[Photographs: Lee Zalben]

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

View the complete recipe here »

Even though they call me the Peanut Butter Guy, which sounds like a rather salt-of-the-earth position, but I'll be honest. I can be a bit of a food snob. Don't get me wrong, I love diners, street food, penny candy, and all sorts of simple fare. But when I cook and bake, it's mostly from scratch. When I develop product recipes with my team at Peanut Butter & Co., it's almost always from scratch as well.

My mom is another story all together.

She is a big fan of kitchen shortcuts, using combinations of ready-made ingredients to "doctor up" foods. She's always calling and emailing me with her peanut buttery shortcuts, and I think she was a little hurt when I didn't use any of them in our cookbook.

But a couple months ago I went home to Philadelphia and she taught me a little lesson. A week before my visit, she told me about a chocolate peanut butter mousse pie at a local bakery we frequented when I was younger. When I got home, she casually mentioned "that chocolate peanut butter mousse pie" she picked up.

Dinner was great: barbecued chicken, potatoes baked on the grill, and steamed veggies in a lemon parsley sauce. After the meal she asked me (with a glint in her eye) if I had room for dessert. I should have suspected something was up.

She went to the fridge, took out the white bakery box tied with red-and-white twine and pulled out a luscious-looking pie with crushed peanuts on top.

"Looks promising," I said. She cut slices for everyone at the table and I took a bite. Chocolatey and peanut buttery. Very creamy. Very good. It had a rich cocoa flavor without being too sweet or bitter.

This was a lot different than the chocolate peanut butter pie we serve at our sandwich shop, but I liked it. Light and sweet, the pie was very rich-tasting. "It must really take skill to make this. You can tell they made it from scratch."

I went on, postulating on whether they used whipped heavy cream or cream cheese for the base. I considered the possibility of cocoa powder, or if it was a ganache from chocolate and cream. "We should call the bakery and ask about the recipe." That's when Mom stopped me. This is the moment she had been waiting for.

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"I've got the ingredients Lee, I've got the ingredients right here."

She zipped around the kitchen for a moment and laid a jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams, a tub of Cool Whip, and a Keebler pie crust on the table.

"Here. These are the ingredients I used to make the pie. Does it taste like it's from scratch? Cooking doesn't always have to be so hard when you have a few shortcuts," she said.

So there it is—how my Mom taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most delicious. And, most importantly, listen to your mother. She's almost always right!