Friday, January 8, 2010

My Mom, Christmas Gifts, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Tartlets

If you haven't noticed already, my mom and I are very close. We have a very "Gilmore Girls" type of relationship in the sense that she is a single mother, and I'm an only child on my mother's side. She is my best friend and my mother. I talk to her every single day, 5-10 times a day.

For many years, she and I had been graduate students at the same time. When she started working on her dissertation, I invited her to live with me in order to expedite the PhD process so she could graduate sooner. Only two semesters later, I was able to call her "Dr. Mom", and she became a professor of English Literature. I am immensely proud of my mom. She is my inspiration and my role model.

For Christmas, she bought me a bunch of stuff for my somewhat new cooking/baking/photography addiction to make up for all the times she couldn't give me everything I wanted while she was a struggling student. So, I thought I'd share all the kitchen-related gifts I received because the non-kitchen stuff like clothes and batteries (yes, she even wrapped up my batteries!) is just boring haha!

A beautiful Canon EOS XSi with a 50mm lens! I love this camera!

Left to right: glass cake stand; steamer (used to make the tamales; was on sale for 30 dollars at Bed, Bath, & Beyond); mortar & pestle (yes!); in and near the Pyrex cup: pastry cutter, grater, candy thermometer, offset spatula, zester, egg separator; pastry mat; roast pan (no more foil pans anymore!)

Ahh, a cast-iron dutch oven! My mom actually bought this a few years ago and never used it (GASP!) because well...she doesn't cook much. After a bit of coaxing, she reluctantly let me have it! Yes!

In return, I cooked and baked for her. Most importantly, I bought her a standing globe, which is something she's wanted for years. She would always say, "Whenever I become a professor, I want to have a standing globe in my office." I got to admit, out of all the presents I saw on Christmas Day, her present, not mine, was my favorite because I got to make her happy. She even cried happy tears, and she doesn't cry very often. I love you, mom! Thanks for everything!

Okay, enough of the mushy stuff! I promised to post this tart a long time ago but never got around to it because of the tamales and the rosca for Three Kings' Day. I made these tarts for Christmas because I thought the crust looked very interesting and indulgent. It is comprised of melted chocolate and chocolate wafers (I used Oreos)!

Unfortunately, the crust was really hard, and after discussing this problem with the blogger who posted the recipe originally, we figured that it may be hard because of the thickness of the crust. So, if you decide to make this dessert, make the crust thin around the edges.
In order to remedy the hardness factor, I placed the next tart in a small pool of milk to soften the crust. That worked perfectly. Unfortunately, I'm not a great fan of peanut butter, and I'm getting tired of chocolate. Nevertheless, this dessert was good. If you're craving chocolate and peanut butter make this dessert while keeping the abovementioned pointers in mind. Enjoy!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
adapted from Once Upon a Chef (She made one large 10-inch tart)
Note the differences in how much each layer yields if you're making small tarts! I would half the peanut butter layer for the small tarts.

Chocolate Crust (makes about 5 small tarts):
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
8 ounces Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies (about 32 cookies from a 9-ounce package), finely ground in a food processor (2 cups)

Peanut Butter Filling (makes 8-10 small tarts):
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 small tub or box)
1 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy peanut butter)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream

Chocolate Topping (makes enough for 5 small tarts):
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped (I didn't use this; I'm not a nut lover)

Chocolate Crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. Stir well, then stir in the cookie crumbs. Press the cookie crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the rim of the tart pans (Be sure not to make the crust too thick in any one spot, especially around the rim. Keep it thin throughout, otherwise it will come out too hard.) Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then cool on rack.

Peanut Butter Filling: In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla extract until blended. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the chilled cream until firm. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface. Refrigerate uncovered for about 1 hour.

Chocolate Topping: In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted and the cream is hot. Stir the chocolate topping until blended, then let cool to barely warm, stirring occasionally. Spread the chocolate topping over the chilled peanut butter filling and sprinkle the chopped peanuts around the edge of the pie. Chill uncovered in refrigerator for 3 more hours.

Carefully remove the rim from the pan by gently pressing upwards on the bottom while holding the rim in place. (If using a springform pan, run a thin knife around the crust to loosen it, then remove the springform ring.) Use a sharp knife to cut the pie into wedges. Run the knife under hot water and dry it between each cut. Serve chilled or slightly cooler than room temperature.

Can be made one day ahead of time.

P.S. Here is the red mixer I won on Pioneer Woman! The mixer my mom gave me last year is the black one.


  1. Your Mom gave you so many great gifts! And you gave her such a great gift too! I love that you are so close to your Mom - talking to her 5 to 10 times a day!


  3. Look at all of those gifts! And to have 2 stand mixers, holey moley! That could be a lot of fun in the kitchen. Love that cast iron pot!

  4. Your relationship with your mom is beautiful and it's so great to hear how supportive you are of each other.

  5. You and your mother are very lucky to have eachother. That is a beautiful description of her. Your tartelettes look delicious, and your pictures are amazing! I love the photo of the globe and the stand. Congrats to you on this fabulous blog.

  6. Hi, Memoria

    Guess who? It's Mom! What a lovely surprise to go to your blog and see all of these beautiful words and pictures documenting the blessed Christmas we recently shared. I am so glad you are enjoying your gifts and putting them to excellent use. Now, where exactly in my office am I going to display my gorgeous, gorgeous standing globe . . . ? The possibilities are endless and I am sooooooooooo excited! Yes!

    Hey, I remember those pretty little chocolate peanut butter tarts (we ate them while we were watching the Christmas Story marathon, right)? Anyway, yes, they were a little hard around the edges, but the filling was so delicious and moist: kind of reminds me of the way life works sometimes. You know, hard around the edges, but if you can just work through it or soften it until you get to the center, you are going to find some delicious and worthwhile surprises!

    Thank you for loving me; I love you too :o)

  7. Wow! You racked up! Does your mom want to adopt another daughter?

    Yummy looking recipe too! Chocolate is my downfall.

  8. What a sweet story. I loved that you made your mom so happy she cried! The tart looks rich and delicious!

  9. Memoria, what a beautiful post! What a wonderful relationship you and your mom have. I can see you treasure it! Your tarts look just delish, and I can see you made out like a bandit with the great gifts this Christmas! :) I have a red Kitchen Aid mixer like that, too; it's my prized possession!

    Happy new year to you,

  10. The bond you share with your mum is so palpable in this blog! So now that you have 2 kitchen aide, we shall expect more goodies from you... I am really glad I found your blog.

  11. I came across that amazing photo of your chocolate tart and just had to come check it out. It's so heartwarming to hear of the incredible relationship you share with your mum. I'll definitely be back for more :)

  12. Holy cow! You hit jackpot lady! :)

    Your Mom sounds like an amazing lady. I really enjoyed reading about your close relationship. I know too many people who aren't close with their parents which to me, is so starnge.

  13. I love the relationship you have with your mother. And what loot you received for Christmas. I love the globe you gave to your mom too. I bet she was thriled. how cool.

    I have a black mixer just like tht one, but I want the red one. Lucky you!

  14. your tarts look delicious!
    Congrats on the mixer now you can bake twice as much! Perfect one for the mix and one for the icing :)


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