Recipe and photo by Susan L. Ebert
Peanuts probably originated in Brazil or Peru, where pottery sherds bearing peanut decorations date back 3,500 years. When returning explorers brought peanuts back to Spain, they spread into Asia and Africa and came to the American South with African slaves in the 1700s. Imaginative cooks incorporated this nutrient-dense ingredient into rich Mexican moles, spicy Thai peanut sauces, African peanut stews, Virginia peanut soups, and Georgia peanut butter pies, along with a myriad other creative treatments.
Peanut harvest occurs during the fall season, and while Georgia is consistently the leading peanut-producing state, nearly one-fifth of the annual U.S. peanut harvest hails from the Southwest, a region defined by the National Peanut Board as Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
In fact, Texas is quite often the No. 2 peanut-producing state, so why not go Georgians “one better” on their signature peanut butter pie with this delectable Southwestern beauty?
For the Pie Crust:
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup organic butter, diced and chilled
For the Peanut Butter Filling:
1/4 cup cold water
1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
3 large egg yolks
1 cup organic granulated sugar
2/3 cup organic whole milk
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup smooth organic peanut butter (I like to grind my own dry roasted peanuts in my food processor; if you buy jarred peanut butter, the ingredients listed on the jar should be only dry-roasted peanuts and sea salt. In either case, let it settle and pour off some of the accumulated oil at the top of the jar instead of stirring it in.)
1 teaspoon pure Mexican vanilla
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup organic heavy cream
For the Glaze:
8 ounces prickly pear jelly (Recipe is on page 28 of my book, The Field to Table Cookbook, or buy at a farmers market or online.)
Prepare the Crust: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Sift flours and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Cut in butter very quickly with pastry cutter or two forks until all butter chunks are pea-sized or smaller; add just enough ice water to make a firm dough. Press into a flat disk and chill for at least an hour or up to overnight. Roll out pie crust on a lightly floured surface and place in pie dish, then return to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Gently cover the pie crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the pie dough is firm and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove pie crust from oven and lift out foil and pie weights. Return pie crust to oven, reduce temperature to 350° F and bake another 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
Prepare the Peanut Butter Filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the water and gelatin. Let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, milk, and sea salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until custard thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and whisk until gelatin has dissolved and mixture is smooth. Whisk in peanut butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold about one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter custard. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until just a few streaks of white remain. Gently spoon filling into cooled pie crust. Chill at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
Glaze the Pie: Melt jelly over medium-low heat just until it liquefies. Remove from heat, and let it cool a bit; you want the temperature to come down, but the jelly to still be pourable. Pour it all at once over the chilled pie, making sure it seals to the crust all the way around.
Store in a pie keeper in the refrigerator for up to three days.