Trust me here, it only seems complicated. I made it for Halloween and it turned out great. If you I can do it so can you. And hey, if it really is the last pie you'll ever make, you might as well shoot for the moon right?
Thanks to Martha Stewart for the recipe! My comments are in bold.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CRUST
1 box (9 ounces) chocolate wafer cookies, finely ground (2 1/3 cups)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup creme fraiche (I couldn't find Creme Fraiche and imagine most people won't either. Plain sour cream works perfectly)
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
7 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably 56 percent cacao), chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the chocolate crust: Combine cookie crumbs, granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Stir in butter. Press mixture into bottom and 2 1/2 inches up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Bake until dry and firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
2. Make the caramel sauce: Heat granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming (I was not able to prevent sugar crystals from forming and it did not seem to matter) until medium amber, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully add heavy cream (mixture will bubble and steam). Return to heat, and bring to a boil, making sure caramel that seized up when cream was added melts. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in creme fraiche. Refrigerate until cool but still pourable, about 45 minutes. Fold in peanuts.
3. Meanwhile, make the peanut butter mousse: Beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add peanut butter and vanilla, and beat until combined. Whisk heavy cream in a separate bowl until medium-stiff peaks form. (It seems like it'd be easier to use store bought whipped cream, but I'd refrain as it would be too sweet. And besides, making your own whipped cream feels like magic!) Fold one-third of the whipped cream into peanut butter mixture. Fold in remaining whipped cream in 2 additions. (If you've never folded it's kind of like a very delicate stir. Here's a great video on how to do it.)
4. Assemble the tart: Pour caramel sauce into cooled chocolate crust. (Then let cool in fridge or freezer until caramel is nearly solid. I found that if the caramel is at all liquid the mousse will push it out of the way and your won't get two nice layers) Gently spread peanut butter mousse over caramel in an even layer, making sure they don't blend together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Make the chocolate ganache: Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate, and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk to combine. (Use immediately.)
6. Remove tart from refrigerator, and pour in ganache to cover surface. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
So there you have it. Dig in without remorse! If by some chance you make this and the apocalypse does not come the next day, fear not, this freezes very well.
Oh, and for all of you non peanut butter lovers out there, a variation that occurred to me would be to axe the peanut butter mousse entirely and substitute your favorite ice cream for that layer. Just let the ice cream thaw until it's spreadable, spread over the caramel and then freeze until it's hard enough to top with ganache.
Let me know how it goes if you all make this. Or just tell us about what you make when calories don't matter!
The Eleventh Plague
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011