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Does Size Matter?

Usually, when there's pie to be had -- especially peanut butter pie -- you want to have a big, fat slab of it, with a big ol' dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. More is the rule.

But not when you're serving a peanut butter pie at a party, with guests standing up who don't have silverware. What to do?

That is the dilemma facing my friends, Dave and Lisa. They are doing dessert dry-runs in preparation for their annual "Bruce Bash" in September, in honor of Bruce Springsteen's birthday (which is September 23, in case you're wondering).  

Lisa has made three versions of a peanut butter pie. Two versions are three- or four-biters. (You can tell which ones they are in the photo; they're the size of a large macaroon.) The third is sized for popping in your mouth.  

The three- or four-biters come two ways — one with a cupcake paper liner to help cut down on sticky fingers. The other does not, under the theory that licking your fingers clean is part of the pleasure of such a gooey, sweet treat.  

Lisa is leaning toward the larger size, with the dainty, sticky-finger-sparing cupcake liners. Dave -- secure in his masculinity -- thinks the smaller peanut butter "pies" would work best.

As you weigh in on this important issue, I offer you Lisa's recipe for the sit-down, fork version of peanut butter fudge pie.

Lisa's Peanut Butter Fudge Pie

  • 1 package (8 oz.) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) container of frozen dessert topping thawed (such as Cool Whip, which, for some sad reason, is already featuring HOLIDAY RECIPE IDEAS on its Web site. The sight of a slice of pumpkin pie on this beautiful late summer day almost made me burst into tears.)
  • 1 chocolate cookie pie crust (recipe to follow)
  • ¼ cup Hot Fudge Sundae topping (store-bought, or homemade. I like this recipe from Gourmet on epicurious.com.)

Beat cream cheese and brown sugar together until smooth. Add the peanut butter with an electric mixer until blended. Gently stir in Cool Whip until blended and smooth.

Spoon filling into crust.

Add the hot fudge topping. Both types of topping -- store-bought or from scratch -- should be warm enough so that they can be drizzled from a spoon, but not watery or runny. Dot the top of the pie with dollops of the topping, for a total of 1/4 cup of topping, and make swirls on the top of the pie by drawing a spoon through the spoonfuls of topping.  

Refrigerate four hours or until firm.

Chocolate Cookie Pie Crust

  • 2 cups chocolate wafers, crushed
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 Tbls. unsalted butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool completely.