on the first father’s day, and a recipe: black-bottom peanut butter pie

black-bottom peanut butter pie | the merry gourmet

We celebrated my husband on Father’s Day with handmade and store-bought cards. We gave him gifts of his favorite candies – Jelly Belly jellybeans, Sour Patch Kids, and Mike and Ike candies (really, for a dentist, he’s a terrible role model). We surprised him with a Super Dad t-shirt and a Minecraft shirt to match his son’s. Oliver spent a week building a special “Dad’s World” in Minecraft and  unveiled it Sunday morning. Madeline made her father his own paper fortune teller and used it to predict that he would be famous one day. I made Sam a decadent black-bottom peanut butter pie that we nibbled on all weekend.

But really, it was not the best day. It was the first Father’s Day since the death of both of our fathers.

I tried to stay upbeat, to celebrate the amazing father of my children, a man who deserves recognition every day of the year, not just on one Sunday in June. But I couldn’t keep my grief at bay.

Social media didn’t help, and I should have avoided it. As much as I enjoyed seeing smiling photos on Facebook of my friends and their fathers together, it just made me feel more deeply the loss of my own. I felt jealous.  And then I felt selfish and guilty and even more miserable.

I just really miss my dad, and my grief continues to surprise me with its ferocity.

*   *   *   *   *

In happier news, we’re heading out on our big summer trip soon, and I could not be more ready. We’re spending nights in Jackson Hole, in the Grand Teton National Park, and in Yellowstone National Park. During many of the nights, our hotel rooms will not have air conditioning or WIFI or even a television. I’ve been preparing the kids for the lack of technology, while inside, I’m cheering that fact.

We’re making our packing lists, cleaning out backpacks, charging camera batteries, and reviewing wildlife safety. I’ve become an expert on bear safety, and I am proud to say that I can now properly distinguish between the tracks of the Grizzly bear versus the brown bear. And did you know that the scientific name for Grizzly bear is Ursus arctos horribilis? And that you are not supposed to make eye contact or run? From a creature with “horribilis” in its name. Right.

Today’s agenda: Review bear safety again, and then once more.

black-bottom peanut butter pie | the merry gourmet

Yield: Serves 8-10

Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Pie

This is almost, but not quite, a no-bake pie. Regardless, it’s incredibly simple and indulgent. If you love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, this is the dessert for you.


8 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-1/3 cups (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup plus 1 cup chilled heavy cream, divided
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1-1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar


Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees with oven rack in middle position. In a food processor, process graham crackers until crumbs are formed. Add melted butter and granulated sugar and process until moist clumps form. Pour crumb mixture into 9-inch pie plate and press crumbs evenly over bottom and up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Let crust cool for 10-15 minutes.

Make chocolate layer: Combine chocolate chips, 2/3 cup cream, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 50% power for about 3 minutes, until the chocolate is softened. Whisk until smooth and melted. Spread chocolate over bottom of crust and freeze for 30 minutes.

Make filling and assemble: Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk 1 cup cream at high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and a clean bowl. Add cream cheese, peanut butter, light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons vanilla extract. Beat at medium-high speed until mixture is smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

Gently fold peanut butter mixture into whipped cream with a spatula until completely blended. Spoon into the chilled pie shell and smooth the top. Freeze for at least 1 hour, until ready to serve (after 1 hour, cover pie with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn).

Take pie out of freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Adapted from this recipe from Bon Appétit, Aug 2006, and this recipe from Epicurious, Sept 2013.

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12 Responses to “on the first father’s day, and a recipe: black-bottom peanut butter pie”

  1. 1
    Marly — June 19, 2014 @ 10:13 am

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. My dad died a couple of years ago and it is very hard. It’s hard to know he won’t be calling again, stopping by to say hello. It does get easier at times, but then there are other times when it’s right back with you again. My thoughts are with you.

  2. 2
    Gail — June 19, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    The first Fathers’ Day is tough, that’s for sure.
    It will be melancholy for a while, I’m afraid.
    Celebrate Sam; revel in the kids celebraing their dad.


  3. 3
    Mimi — June 19, 2014 @ 10:48 am

    Sounds like your husband had a wonderful Father’s Day! I never had a father, or a decent father, so those dad-daughter photos just piss me off, but if you atually had a father you liked, I can certainly understand the sadness. I’m really sorry for both of your losses. You just can’t pick your parents, can you?!!! It makes me sad when I read something like this, because my mother is the meanest person alive and she’s 85 and still kicking! But that pie looks absolutely perfect and delicious!!! sorry for my rambling!

  4. 4
    Beth @ The First Year — June 19, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    It sounds like your travels will be a vacation to remember! As for the pie, I would dig in immediately!

  5. 5
    Liren — June 19, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

    Oh, it will be good to get away. Especially without the technology, so I understand your inner cheers. Your father’s day was my mother’s day, and these holidays are just so hard, aren’t they? It’s so easy to feel envy and grief when social media is full of images we wish we still had. I send you hugs and hope you and the family enjoy every bit of your trip. I have a feeling it will be perfect 🙂

  6. 6

    Aw MJ, my heart went out to both you and Sam this Fathers’ Day. Sam is an amazing dad, for sure and it sounds like he had the day he deserves 🙂 I can’t wait to read more about your adventures (just stay away from those bears!)

  7. 7
    Martha @ A Family Feast — June 19, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My father passed over 20 years ago (and my mother just 2 years ago) – and it’s just plain hard not to have your parents around, especially at all of the different holidays. The first year is definitely the most difficult! But – I did also want to tell you that your pie looks absolutely fantastic! I make a similar peanut butter pie recipe – but love the black bottom of yours! I am going to try your version the next time!

  8. 8
    Joelen Tan — June 19, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

    This is a wonderful dessert choice to celebrate, albeit bittersweetly. Your upcoming vacation sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading all about it soon!

  9. 9
    dina — June 19, 2014 @ 10:34 pm

    it looks sooo good!

  10. 10
    Kathryn — June 20, 2014 @ 6:07 am

    Sending you lots and lots of love. We had a similar Mother’s Day last year as both my grandmothers had died in the previous year – it was so hard for both my parents and the day was tinged with such sadness.

  11. 11
    Di — June 24, 2014 @ 10:11 am

    The first year after a loved one’s passing is the most difficult because of the all those “firsts” without them. Sounds like you and your husband handled it in a healthy way …. putting one foot infront the other when your heart isn’t in it is not easy. I am happy to read your posts again. I missed them. Enjoy your family time off the grid.

  12. 12
    Liesl — June 27, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

    I so know how you feel. I wrote a month or so ago, having just lost my dad in February. I completely understand the “grief surprising you in it’s ferocity.” That is such a good way to state what I am feeling. Even though I knew it would be extremely hard to lose him, I just didn’t know how it would feel.
    Sending love your way.

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