By Denise Dunbar (Photo/Denise Dunbar)
Sometimes a recipe is more than a collection of ingredients used to prepare a particular dish. Or perhaps more accurately, the ingredients that make a certain recipe special may be more indelible than edible.
Such is the case with my Aunt Marlene’s peanut butter pie. The pie itself is fabulous – light, frozen and easy to make, it’s the perfect summertime dessert. But the person who originated the recipe is what makes it special.
Growing up, most summers I spent a week at Uncle Edward and Aunt Marlene’s farm in western Georgia. Their sons Stephen, Sidney and I would play baseball, ride mini bikes through the pasture, fish, and pelt crabapples at their bulls – seeking a bullseye (don’t ask). We found arrowheads and Civil War shell casings, caught snapping turtles, went to church, cheered for the Atlanta Braves, sometimes sighted a copperhead or rattlesnake and got all of our clothes impossibly stained with red Georgia clay.
Their farm seemed like a slice of heaven to this Georgia-born but mostly northern-raised tomboy. At the center of the activity whirlwind that followed her sons and husband was Aunt Marlene: calm, gracious and patient. A first-grade teacher for 30 years, Aunt Marlene could prepare a spread of typical Southern foods with the best of them. The thought of her hand-cranked peach ice cream still makes my mouth water.
But Aunt Marlene’s peanut butter pie is my favorite summertime dessert.
Each bite is like a small sliver of my childhood. I hope you enjoy!
1 9” graham cracker pie crust (plain or chocolate)
1⁄2 cup creamy peanut butter
1⁄2 cup milk
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup Cool Whip
chocolate syrup (optional)
Combine peanut butter, milk and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with a mixer on low speed. Add the powdered sugar and whipped topping. Mix until smooth (three to five minutes for a really creamy pie). Pour into the graham cracker crust. Freeze until firm. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Store leftovers in freezer. Serves 8-12.
Graham cracker pie crusts don’t need to be baked and are in the baking section of
a grocery store — not with the frozen pie crusts that require baking. It is possible to reduce the fat content of the recipe without greatly impacting the taste or texture. I used whole milk, but 50 percent reduced fat whipped topping and 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese.