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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27 Responses to “my gratitude, and a recipe for key lime cheesecake”

  1. 1
    Paula — March 22, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

    Hugs and prayers continue for your entire family. Beautiful cheesecake. Enjoy that upcoming and much needed vacation.

  2. 2
    Michele — March 22, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    You guys take care of yourselves. I’ll be thinking of you and your family. And that cheesecake!

  3. 3
    DessertForTwo — March 22, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

    We’re here for you anytime, MJ!

    Your Mom’s blog post hit me in the gut. I’m thinking of her & praying her lots. I hope she has easy days ahead and can heal.

    PS Is your maiden name George? Mine too!

  4. 4
    All that Gisters — March 22, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

    I really hope things get better for you, your Mum and Dad, I really hope you enjoy your holiday tpp because I think you deserve it. I absolutely love key lime cheesecake and I haven’t had it it so long, it brings back good memories from when I was tiny.
    from Emily xxx

  5. 5
    Gail — March 22, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    I haven’t even read your mother’s blog yet, and I’m a weepy mess.

    Sending you big hugs. You know we’re all here for you.


  6. 6

    MJ such a sad, beautiful, hopeful, and articulate post. You are amazing. Sending love and hugs to you all, especially your mum and dad XO As Gail says, we’re all here if you need us.

  7. 7
    Kathryn — March 22, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    Thinking of you all, have a wonderful vacation xxx

  8. 8
    Cookin Canuck — March 22, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

    You have popped into my mind multiple times since I read the post about your dad’s transition to the nursing home. You are in all of our thoughts.

    Key lime in any form has always been a favorite of mine, and this cheesecake looks like a “must try”.

  9. 9
    Michelle Ledesma — March 22, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    Continuing to keep you, your folks, and family in my thoughts and prayers. May seem odd, but I feel the need to thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories. It’s comforting to connect with someone who clearly loves her dad and mom, but is moving through a difficult period in life’s transitions. I relate. Many can, I’m sure. Know you, too, are not alone. We’re all out here walking along side, holding you up in our hearts.
    Do get some r & r on your vacation.
    Oh, and that cheesecake looks divine.
    Hugs, Mac

  10. 10
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — March 23, 2013 @ 1:39 am

    Your mom’s post definitely resonated with a lot of tough decisions we had to do in our lives as well. Our thoughts and prayers goes out to her, your dad and the whole family during this trying times. xoxo

    That’s a beautiful cheesecake.

  11. 11
    cherie — March 23, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    I’m fairly new to your blog and did not read about the initial surgery until today – what a shock all this must have been for you and your mother.

    Prayers continue for you all – hugs too – I agree you both need time to recover from stress before moving forward with other decisions. I wish there were a way to make this easier – it sounds like you’re all doing the very best you can.

  12. 12
    jill lucas — March 24, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    There will be so many good memories mingled with these difficult ones. Try to remember the times he offered his steady hand talked about your babies with knowledge and pride. I learned after my dad’s death that, the day before his heart attack, he was pressing a new snapshot of his toddler grandson – our son, now 22 – into the hands of friends at the post office. I took a lot of comfort in that and choose to remember it over details that have become less vivid with time.

  13. 13
    Natasha — March 24, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    Time like these are never easy. I will certainly keep you and your family in my thoughts. And I’m sure cheesecake helps, as I know baking for me certainly does. All the best.

  14. 14
    Cheryl Arkison — March 25, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    I love that layer of curd!
    And I’m thrilled that things feel calmer, better.

  15. 15
    Nutmeg Nanny — March 25, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

    This is such a difficult and heartbreaking time, sending positive thoughts your way. There is nothing like a nice treat to ease things though, this cheesecake looks delicious 🙂

  16. 16

    you and your family is in my prayers Merry. I have realized how great it is to be surrounded by blogger community during tough times like this and I am glad baking is your comfort. Take Care.

  17. 17
    SMITH BITES — March 28, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    sending much love and prayers your way MJ and i’m grateful for this community who surrounds you with love, am grateful you have this space to share your deepest secrets and fears, am grateful to call you friend (((hugs)))

  18. 18
    Donna at NothingChocolate — April 1, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

    Oh my goodness!!! Your images are spectacular! My eyes “taste” the creamy tart-ness of this cake! So wonderful!
    And where did you find that nice, moderately high cake stand?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 8th, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

      The cake stand came from Crate & Barrel a few years ago. I love it and keep meaning to buy another!

  19. 19
    Kammie @ Sensual Appeal — April 3, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

    Wow , I love that there’s even lime curd in there! Amazing recipe! Pinned.

  20. 20
    Lucy Henderly — April 8, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

    I made this on saturday night for some friends birthday get together on Sunday night!!!! it was a hit! maybe one of the best cheesecakes i’ve ever had!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 8th, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Lucy. I’m so glad that everyone loved it!

  21. 21
    Lauren @ Dallas Duo Bakes — April 10, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

    Prayers for you and your family! As for your key lime cheesecake…it looks divine. I am a huge key lime fan, and know I will like this recipe.

  22. 22
    Aggie — April 11, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    Ok, I’m officially in tears. I love key lime everything. I want a slice of this cheesecake. Love you friend. xoxo

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