(I have updated this recipe on 7/12)
After months of testing and eating, I believe I have come up with the perfect peanut butter pie.
I won't bother you with the crust or extras - I used Pierre Herme's tart dough and lined the base with ganache and toasted nuts - you can do a graham shell or anything you like. The quest here was for the filling.
I had been struggling with the fact that most PB pies used cream cheese in the recipe. That's just not the way it should be. A peanut butter pie should be strongly flavored of peanut butter and nothing else. The consistency should be light, but not so light that it feels like you're eating a tub of Cool-Whip. But it shouldn't be dense like Alton Brown's which was a massive Reese's Cup.
An eGer sent me on a path of peanut butter pudding or pastry cream which was just the paradigm shift that I needed. I dub this pie as perfect!
My Ultimate Peanut Butter Pie:
1/2 C. Crunchy Peanut Butter
2/3 C. Sugar
1/4 C. Cornstarch
1/4 t. Salt
2 C. Milk
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
First, I'll start with the fact that you can use a jarred peanut butter if you want - just choose the most intense flavor you can find. When I made my own, I used LeBlance Roasted Peanut Oil because it is so strong and it provided a perfect flavor for dilluting with the other ingredients.
Second, I used Julia Child's technique for pastry cream to speed the process along.
In a large microwavable bowl (I use my iSi silicon bowls), zap the milk until it starts to steam. Whisk in the sugar, starch, and salt. Zap again for 60 seconds. Keep zapping in 60 second intervals until you come to a soft simmer. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the yolks. Pour some of the hot milk mixture into the yolks and whisk to temper. Pour the yolks back into the large milk bowl. Whisk well. Zap another 60 seconds. Whisk. Zap. Whisk. Continue this until it starts to thicken. Reduce your zaps to 30 seconds. When you get a pudding-like consistency. Pour this hot mixture over the peanut butter mixture and combine. Cover with saran wrap making sure that skin doesn't form, and bring to room temp.
Once at room temp, take the cream and whip it until stiff. Take 1/4 of the whipped cream and fold it into the peanut butter cream. Then take all of that mixture and gently fold it into the rest of the whipped cream. Pour into your pie shell or parfait glass. Chill at least an hour and enjoy.