From Cooking to Eat to Cooking to Heal: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

There’s a pose in yoga called the ball pose. After reaching towards the sky, breathing deep, I curve down into a tight little ball, forehead gently resting on my knees, balancing on the edge of my toes. I teeter in ball pose and sometimes even fall. My love of yoga is not matched by my grace. I struggle to touch my toes. My limbs don’t match the instructor’s, but that doesn’t matter. Only the peace that gradually fills me throughout class matters. I love ball pose, the feel of my breath tickling my thighs, like a secret promise of what’s to come.

For the last few months, my life has been one big ball pose. Traveling back and forth to France to be with my mother, I have been surviving, just fitting in exercise, walks with the dog, and lots of snuggles with the dog, and the kids, and my favorite blanket. All of my cooking has been functional. I’ve been cooking to eat, not to create. My body feels good, but not my soul. I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been creating. I’ve just been existing.

Now that I’m in my 40s, I see that life can pull you down sometimes. Aging parents, aging kids, everything pulls at you. It’s easy to lose your core, your essence, your spark. It’s harder to find the joy, the energy to create.

I needed to embrace one of Bella’s favorite quotes:

So this last week, I took a step towards recapturing my essence. I began cooking with creativity again, instead of just rote function. My menu board got filled with new recipes, and this weekend, I baked for fun, reaching back into my archives. I baked Mikey’s Peanut Butter Pie, a recipe I’d last baked to show support for my friend Jennie who was grieving for her husband’s untimely death. The peanut butter pie was delicious, creamy, decadent, and healing.


Trust me on this – like finding the joy amidst the sadness – the lemon juice in this recipe is the key, the slight tang that makes this recipe sing.

From Cooking to Eat to Cooking to Heal: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Prep time
Total time
This recipe is from my friend Jennie Perillo. It was her late husband's favorite. It is a creamy treasure.
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 8-10
  • 8 ounces chocolate cookies
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • optional extra 4 tablespoons of melted chocolate for drizzle
  1. Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
  3. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and somewhat fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is somewhat smooth.
  5. Stir in ⅓ of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle an extra 3-4 tablespoons of melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.




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