Peanut Butter Semifreddo Pie


My wife Bev, an otherwise sensible woman, lives in the fear that some online scoundrel will one day get his nefarious little fingers on an old photo of me in my long-hair, mountain-man days – well before she’d met and whipped my unkempt butt into shape – and post it for all eyes to behold, triggering a scandal that brings down The Pie Academy and finds us living on the street.

She has a point: when you live in an area with lots of alligators and snakes, as we do, living on the street is not the optimal address.

And Lord save my soul when she discovers that such a photo has indeed been published, and I’m the scoundrel who put it here.

I couldn’t resist. My daughter Ali, the cutie standing beside me (above), recently found this photo among her grandmother’s belongings. It was probably taken some 20 years ago now, for a magazine story I cannot precisely recall, but it doesn’t really matter.

What matters – and the entire point of me posting this here – is the unabashed joy Ali clearly feels baking alongside her “pop.” That’s the way it always was when my kids were little. They all loved to bake – there’s my youngest son, Sam, intently doing his thing in the background – and baking became part of the bond that keeps me connected with my kids today.

Ali & Sam today, with my wife Bev

If you have kids or grandkids and you’ve never baked with them before, why not give it a shot in 2013? There’s no app for that; you just dive right in and do it.

Can it be chaotic and messy? You bet it can. There were times – after putting together, say, my one large fruit pie and their four smaller ones – when I had little choice but to march the kids outside and just hose them off. They loved it.

Me today; at least some of us have grown up…

I plan to write more about pie making with kids in 2013. For now, just a few quick tips that might help: Everyone wears aprons. A tarp on the floor can alleviate a big mess. Make sure to give kids age appropriate tasks – no sharp cutters in small, uncertain hands. And be sure to bring your sense of humor and plenty of patience to the table.

I’d love to hear stories from any of you who enjoy baking with your kids or grandkids, pies or otherwise. Is this something you do often? Something you’d like to try, but you’re a little uneasy with? Just use the contact form at the top of the page to get in touch. Thanks!

Meanwhile, here’s a semi-frozen peanut butter pie recipe kids will love – one that even predates the photo above. Enjoy.

The No-More-Tears Pie Pastry Course

(NOTE: Please read the headnote to the recipe, about raw egg whites.)

Peanut Butter Semifreddo Pie


  • PLEASE NOTE: This recipe contains raw egg whites. While eating raw eggs is not an uncommon practice, some sources frown upon it. Especially in the case of young children, the elderly, or pregnant women, there is an added risk. Please research this subject carefully first - online or in a good general cookbook like The Joy of Cooking - if you plan to include the raw egg whites in this recipe. Alternatively, you may simply leave out the egg whites altogether and the result will suffer little, but have a slightly denser consistency. One good alternative is to use egg whites from pasteurized eggs. They typically take longer to whip than regular egg whites, but adding cream of tartar will help things along. Find out more at
  • 3 cups coarsely broken up Oreo cookies (18 to 20 cookies)
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (not reduced fat), softened
  • 1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts
  • Chocolate sauce of your choice


  1. To make the Oreo crumb crust, preheat the oven to 350°. Get out a 9 1/2" deep-dish pie pan and butter the bottom and sides. Set aside.
  2. Combine the Oreo cookies and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse repeatedly in long bursts to make fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl. Add the butter and mix well, first with a fork and then by rubbing the mixture well by hand. Add the milk and rub again until the crumbs clump together when pressed between your fingers.
  3. Transfer the crumbs to your pie pan, pressing them evenly into the bottom and up the side. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  4. Place the pan on the center oven rack and bake for 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool thoroughly.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling. Chill a medium-size bowl and the beaters of your electric mixer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pour the cream into the bowl and beat until stiff but not grainy. Do not overbeat. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and peanut butter with the mixer on medium speed until evenly blended. Gradually beat in the sugar and then the brown sugar, until blended. The mixture will look lumpy, like cookie dough; don't worry. Blend in the vanilla. Add the whipped cream, slowly beating it into the mixture until smooth and evenly mixed.
  7. Clean and dry the beaters. Using a clean medium-size bowl, beat the egg whites (if using; see above note) until they hold stiff peaks. Add them to the peanut butter mixture and then fold them in thoroughly and evenly with a rubber spatula. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell and smooth with a spoon. Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the pie. Refrigerate overnight.
  8. About 3 to 4 hours before serving, transfer the pie to the freezer. Semifreddo means semi-frozen and the ideal consistency for this pie is achieved by partially freezing it before serving. Slice and serve, drizzling the pieces with chocolate sauce as you go. Makes 10 servings.