Does Size Matter?

(For a dessert buffet table, that is?)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Which one would YOU prefer at a stand-up party dessert buffet? (How about ALL of them?) (Amy Eddings/WNYC)

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

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.


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Comments [4]

Chip from Riverside, California

Hi, Amy!

I would like to add that Lisa's recipe is adapted from my partner Mike's adaptation of a Kraft recipe we tried in our endless search for a way to duplicate the peanut butter pie at Virgil's Real Pit Barbecue on 44th Street in Manhattan. This is the closest we have come. For those readers who are in your immediate listening area (who don't want to bother making their own pie, of any size), the real thing is right there in Midtown! It's phenomenal. Go--indulge--enjoy.



Aug. 27 2011 01:20 PM

@Mike: Not sure about Bruce, but we love peanut butter pie.
@Theresa: There will be bacon and there will be peanut butter pie but still not sure which size!

Aug. 25 2011 06:14 PM
Theresa Gilbert

Having been to Bruce's Bash for the past few years, I would have to vote in favor of the small ones. Bruce's Bash is filled with an endless supply of delicious treats of all kinds, which means you can barely fit more than a few bites of each treat. Plus, anything too large on the plate means you have to reprioritize and potentially miss out on something else that is destined to be just as tasty.
"Just get a second plate," you might say if you didn't know that the second plate is always reserved for another helping of all items wrapped in or including bacon (of which there are hopefully many!)
That being said, I cannot wait to try these peanut butter pies regardless what size they come in!

Aug. 24 2011 04:49 PM
Mike from Philadelphia

Does Bruce like peanut butter pie? Or is it just your friend Lisa?

Aug. 23 2011 07:34 PM

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