Individual Peanut Butter Tarts (With Love for Jennie)

Last Sunday, I was relaxing after a busy weekend, and I saw this tweet from Jennifer Perillo

He’s gone. And my heart is shattered into a million pieces.

I immediately feared the worst, but I hoped I was wrong.  Perhaps I was misisng something. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. So, I sent her a quick reply saying that I hoped everything was OK. Then, exhaustion took over and I headed to bed. I couldn’t get the tweet out of my head, so I said a quick prayer and drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to find out that my worst fears were true. Jennifer’s husband, Mikey, had passed away from a sudden heart attack. There was no warning, no time for goodbyes. In a moment, life changed for Jennie and her two girls.

I sat at my laptop, frozen, with tears streaming down my face as I read through the flood of tweets.  I had no idea what to say, what to think. I couldn’t help but to think what it would feel like if I were in her place… I couldn’t imagine. I tried not to imagine.

Now that the week has passed, I still have trouble wrapping my head around it, even thought Jennie has constantly been in my thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the memorial service in New York City today. I wanted to be there for her and to give her a hug, but it just wasn’t an option.

So instead, I am honoring Jennie’s poignant request, and sharing her recipe for Peanut Butter Pie. The pie was a favorite of Mikey’s, and Jennie requested that we all make the pie and share it with those that we love. Even in her moment of tragedy, she put it more eloquently than I ever could…

…make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love.  Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

I cannot be with her in person today, but I am with her in spirit. And, I know that everything will eventually be OK. I’m sure it won’t be easy. But, Jennie is strong. Much stronger than I am. And, she has friends… Lots of them. Today we are making pie. And, for months and years to come, we will still be here to help her along the way. We will make sure she is OK.

Individual Peanut Butter Tarts
(Makes 4 individual pies, adapted from In Jennie’s Kitchen)

  • 2 ounces chocolate graham crackers (or chocolate cookies)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • Dash pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Lightly salted peanuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Pulse the chocolate graham crackers (or cookies) in a food processor.  Add in the melted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Carefully divide the wet crumbs between four small individual tart pans. Use your fingers to press the crumbs into bottom and sides of pan.  Place the individual tarts on a small baking pan and transfer them to the oven.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Allow the tart shells to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth, at 15 second intervals.  Divide the chocolate between the four tarts and smooth (as best you can) with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate, dividing them between the four tarts.  Transfer the shells to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, and powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl.  With a hand mixer, beat on medium speed until the ingredients are well combined.  Add in the sweetened condensed milk and a dash of vanilla extract and continue beating until the mixture is smooth.

In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Then, add the remaining whipped cream and carefully fold it into the filling. Transfer the filling to a disposable pastry bag, and pipe the filling into the prepared tart shells. Garnish with some lightly salted peanuts, if desired.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

My Friday Favorites will return next week… This week, making a peanut butter pie in honor friend was much more important!

34 Responses to Individual Peanut Butter Tarts (With Love for Jennie)

  1. Wow. I clicked on this because peanut butter pie is my dad’s favorite thing in the world. And now, I will make it for him. Not today, but this weekend. Thank you for sharing this, and my thoughts and prayers go out for your friend and her family.

  2. Wonderful Jen. You summed it all up perfectly. We all want to be there, but we’ll have to settle with honoring Mikey and his family with his favorite pie.

  3. I’m definitely going to make these for my boyfriend tonight. He loves anything with peanut butter and chocolate, and I think what Jennie said is true – you really only have today.

  4. These are so lovely, Jen. Your sentiments about Jennie and Mikey are from the heart and I know Jennie will love your post when she reads it. Although we’ve never met in person, I just want you to know how happy I am to call you my friend. I am in awe of what an incredible community we food bloggers belong to.

  5. This is a lovely post, my thoughts and prayers go out to your friend. I will make these this weekend for my family. A friend of mine lost her brother yesterday. It’s a reminder to me not to take the time that we have for granted.

  6. God give Jennie all the patience that she deserves and may Mikey RIP. Beautiful way to be with her from miles away. Very sincere post.

  7. But Jen, you have put it so eloquently, here in this poignant, thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing the beautiful words you thought had escaped you.

  8. i am sorry for the loss you and your friend are going through right now. i am going to make this as a full size tart tomorrow in honor of him.

  9. Your words could have been mine; those same emotions, that same response. But this effort today, this outpouring of love for Jennifer, for Mikey, for our own families even…they all help to start the healing.

    Your tarts are beautiful; but then I expect nothing less from you. It’s true!

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  11. I know how you feel, Jen. And it was so nice to read this and see your pies. It was tragic, is tragic. But I gained some strength and hope from the community and spirit of the people around me. Beautiful!

  12. My dad too died from extremely unexpected heart problems. He was not ill and had no symptoms to speak of, nothing prepared my family and I for the shock. I was 18 at the time, now 21, and not a day passes when I don’t pray for him and miss him with all of my heart. Although I do not know Jennie or her family personally, I am truly touched by this tragedy – my thoughts and prayers are with them. I am sure that your support, along with the support and kind words that others have shown also, will bring them comfort during this very difficult and sad time. RIP Mikey.

  13. Your tarts are beautiful as is your post. You are so right when you say that this deeply caring blogging community will always be there for Jennie and her family in the days, months and years ahead.