It is true that there are some things in life that are a true labor of love, like this pie, which, as Christina Tosi put it, is “a bit of a bitch to make”.
My husband has been begging me to make this pie for about 6 months now, but with everything else going on, I just didn’t have the free time to fully dedicate to it. I am also not the greatest peanut butter flavor fan, so there was no rush to prioritize it. I decided that my Christmas break would find me making it though.
This pie is a lot of sugar work, and meant to replicate the famous Take 5 candy bar. Perfect timing to take this one on since I have been doing a bit of sugar work lately and felt well prepared. Last month it was macarons and last week it was the marshmallow fluff frosting for the Bûche de Noël. Nougat? Caramel? Bring it. I will say read and re-read the recipe. Preparedness is key to success for this recipe with many moving parts.
Everything went reasonably well. I did have to start the Nougat twice because, on my first pan of sugar water, I misread the temp that the sugar needed to reach (mistaking Fahrenheit for Celcius) despite Tosi stating it 4 times on the page. So I licked the beater and started over. No biggie. Peanut brittle? Easy peasy.
The caramel started out ok… but never set up as much as the recipe stated it would. When I googled to see what other baker’s experiences were, it seemed that pretty much everyone had the same issue I did, and you can see it did run out. I have not seen a solution for this, despite trying higher fridge temps (even freezing it). Maybe the amount of gelatin is too low? It doesn’t affect the taste, but be prepared for it to run, which my husband did call out as a downer for the texture. This will also affect your ability to spread the Nougat on the caramel, so I recommend patting it out with your hands and then placing it gently on the caramel, then chilling it overnight at that point, to make adding the chocolate glaze easier. I definitely plan to experiment with this to make it turn out less runny. If any readers have a suggestion I will be glad to hear it!
The pie is incredibly delicious, even for a so-so fan of peanut butter like me. It is true to its muse. The sum of the parts truly make the whole, with each component working together to create an exceptionally balanced dessert, typical for Tosi’s recipes. There is also much to be said for learning and being more comfortable with these techniques, which is half the reason I enjoy her book.
And so, dear readers, I leave you with this encouragement to challenge yourself to try new and challenging things in the New Year!