How to Make a Rainbow & Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

Peanut Butter Pie via Sweetapolita

umbrella + rain + love + sunshine = how to make a Rainbow

It’s almost midnight here. I sit in my cozy bed with a warm laptop on my legs, a loyal cat on my feet, and a strong, loving man asleep beside me. And, oh . . . wait a minute — make that a strong, loving man and a beautiful but displaced four-year-old who should likely be in her own bed, asleep beside  me. I won’t lie, though — I don’t really want her to go back to her bed, even though between the two of them, I’m left with little room to type. Our little almost-two-year-old sleeps peacefully in her crib just across the hall, and it’s a typical night here. Sometimes I forget how much I love typical. I forget how lucky I am to have another typical day with family. See, sometimes, or well, often, when life gets too busy, or too stressful, or even too typical, I take this all for granted–my family, my health, and life in general.

Today, though, was different. Well, I should say this entire week was different, because I have reached a place that immerses me in feelings of gratitude, love, and appreciation for those close to me . . . and what an amazing place that is. Did I mention this wonderful place of love and gratitude has pie?

This past Sunday, fellow food-blogger, Jennie Perillo’s typical came to a heartbreaking halt when, in a sudden and unexpected moment, her husband and father of their two little girls, Mikey, died of a heart attack, leaving no time for goodbyes. When I saw Jennie’s tweet on Sunday evening that said “He’s gone. And my heart is shattered in a million pieces”, I instantly felt numb, but I hoped maybe I misunderstood. I knew she was happily married, but I thought that it couldn’t possibly be her husband she was referring to, or maybe he left her, which seemed so hard to believe. I wasn’t sure, and, to be honest, the gripping worry and concern surprised even me, because I really don’t know Jennie that well. But I was concerned; I couldn’t stop thinking about her, up until the very moment I fell asleep that night, and then some. When I woke up Monday morning and checked into twitter looking for any bit of reassurance that everything was okay with her, I went straight to her profile to see if she’d written. I then saw a tweet she posted linking to a video clip she calls one last dance. When I watched the video of Mikey and their young daughter dancing, I still didn’t know anything for sure, but I cried. Maybe it was because it reminded me so much of Grant dancing with our little girls, but I cried instantly with grief. Once I read the flurry of tweets that followed from her many devastated friends, stating that Mikey had indeed passed away, I cried even more and every time I think about it, I cry again. You truly just never know.

Because the food community is a remarkably tight-knit one, and through the wonders of twitter are able to connect on a pretty intimate level every single day, there is a camaraderie and connection that I simply wouldn’t believe possible if I wasn’t part of it all. Perhaps this is why the entire community is so affected by Jennie’s loss and her recent request in a blog post she calls For Mikey:

As I spend Friday reflecting on the love and life that was gone in an instant, I’d like to invite all of you to celebrate his life too. Mikey loved peanut butter cream pie.  I haven’t made it in a while, and I’ve had it on my to-do list for a while now.
I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow. Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I’m waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, 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.

So, I did exactly what she asked, and I made her incredible pie and shared it with the loves of my life, in honour of Mikey, and to celebrate that we have each other…today.

Sweetapolita

I gave the girls the decadent and delicious Peanut Butter Pie in bed, in their pjs. They both loved it, and watching Neve savour each and every bite with so much focus and appreciation made me realize, I could stand to learn a thing or two about that. Their matching pajamas say umbrella + rain + love + sunshine = how to make a rainbow, and I couldn’t agree more. For some, it’s as rainy as it can be right now.

Sweetapolita
But, thank goodness for umbrellas . . .

Sweetapolita

 And love . . .

Sweetapolita

 And a bit more love . . .

Sweetapolita

And, of course, sunshine . . .

We wish Jennie & her girls, along with anyone else who may have rainy days right now, the brightest of rainbows as they heal.

umbrella + rain + love + sunshine = how to make a Rainbow

We all loved this pie for both what it meant and how simply delicious it is. Thank you, Jennie.

Making and sharing this pie is truly just an amazing reminder of what’s important in life: taking the time to show your loved ones how much you care for them, and in this case, through the nurturing and nourishment of food made with love.

If you’d like to see more Peanut Butter Pie posts from other bloggers, in honour of Mikey Perillo, here is an extensive and constantly updated list of links from Food Network.

Here is Jennie’s recipe for Mikey’s favourite Creamy Peanut Butter Pie:

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

*courtesy of In Jennie’s Kitchen

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Enjoy & serve with love.

Love, Rosie xo

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Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with feasting, family, and friends. I know we certainly did! We celebrated Easter as well as our little Reese’s 4th birthday. On Saturday we went to “The County,” where Grant grew up, to visit his dad (Grandpa), step-mom Kathy (Grammy), and family at the farm. It’s such a neat situation, because it’s the house Grant grew up in, which is on the same property as his grandfather’s (Poppy) farmhouse, so when we go with the kids, there’s so much for them to see and do. With Easter and Reese’s birthday falling on the same weekend this year (a rare occurrence), we decided it would be fun to celebrate in The County on Saturday. When Reese and I were talking about birthday cake ideas, we thought it would be the perfect time to make the brilliant Rainbow Cake.

When Reese first saw the Rainbow Cake on Whisk Kid’s blog, she fell in love with it, and rightfully so–this cake is a kid’s dream come true with its 6 vibrant rainbow-coloured layers and tons of buttercream! Kaitlin’s blog is filled with scrumptious cakes and treats, photos, and helpful baking hints, and if you haven’t yet, you really must check it out! As a cake girl myself, I have to tell you that I think her rainbow cake invention was likely the most genius layer cake design in the history of cake. She’s pretty amazing herself–a 20 year old sophomore at Michigan State University who happens to be a super-bright, passionate and talented baker/blogger, and more. If you don’t believe me, ask Martha Stewart who had Kaitlin herself on the show to demonstrate the making of the Rainbow Cake!

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

I told Kaitlin that I think the fact that she left her buttercream Rainbow Cake white on the outside was complete brilliance and perfectly executed. I was tempted to do that as well, but I thought it would be so fun to let Reese design the outside of her own cake, so I covered the buttercream Rainbow Cake with some white fondant, chilled it overnight, and then handed her a pack of AmeriColor Food Colour Markers (below)–again, a dream come true for an artsy and infinitely creative kid like her. I ordered these pens awhile back, and promised her that someday soon she could colour on her own cake. She was so excited that she even sketched out some ideas on paper with regular markers, so that she was ready and prepared (this is so my child). First thing she did was write her first name, then her full name, then a number 4. Then she thought about it, and just did whatever she wanted until the cake was filled with doodles. My personal favourite is the rainbow and the big yellow sun. Wouldn’t it be cute to make matching sugar cookies covered in white fondant, and let the kids decorate their own cookies at a birthday party? Or even writing guests’ names on fancy cookies as place cards. So much fun!

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

What I absolutely love about this cake is the element of surprise and the wow-factor, when the first piece is cut and served. There was literally some audible gasps at the table when they saw the rainbow inside, and the kid inside of me couldn’t be more in love with rainbow layers (was a tween in the 80s, what can I say). The cake is made by dividing and colouring vanilla cake batter using gel colours (I used the recipe below, but any vanilla butter cake would work well) and baking in separate pans for 15 minutes each. The process was really a fun change for me and Reese helped colour all of the bowls of batter. This piece with “Alyea” on it makes me smile; I suppose that’s one way to claim your piece! I think I may start doing that around here. The cake itself was so delicious, and I just adore Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, so that was the perfect addition to the vanilla cake and vanilla fondant. So decadent with all of that gorgeous buttercream!

Here’s our little birthday girl full of love, laughter, and life . . .

Just sitting around being cute and, well, four. It’s hard to believe that she’s four, actually. Sounds cliche, but it’s so true. When she was a baby, I used to sing “Turn Around” to her on a regular basis after hearing Grant’s stepmom sing it to her–every single time I sang that to her I would be crying before even the end of verse 1:

Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby, my own
Turn around and you’re two
Turn around and you’re four
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of the door

Okay, it seems that even writing about it makes me cry, but that’s exactly what happened: I turned around she was two, and then I turned around and she was four. Here’s my favourite photo of her when she was two:

 

My favourite of Reese’s modeling gigs–definitely a particularly proud mommy moment (sorry if that’s a total mommy brag)! Well, on second thought, I won’t complain that she’s four, because as the next verse of that song reminds me, I’ll turn around and she’ll be having “babes of her own.” I’ll take four and enjoy every minute of it.

Sweetapolita

An unexpected birthday highlight at the farm was driving Grandpa’s tractor for the first time. Apparently, she’s quite the driver!

After those tractor-driving lessons from Grandpa, she was ready to drive cousin Lucas’ Jeep, and did she ever.

Then it was time to hitch a ride with cousin Piper; now if only the closest Starbucks wasn’t 30 miles away . . .

Have a wonderful week! We were lucky enough to have another fun birthday dinner for Reese with Grant’s mom (Nanny) and sister, Mary, here at our house last night, and we’re about to have yet another tonight, since it’s her actual birthday today . . . a birthday Mardi Gras of sorts!

Here’s the recipe for the Rainbow Cake followed by my how-to for the Doodle Cake version:

Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake         {click here for printable recipe}

Rainbow Cake via Whisk Kid

White Cake (but not really)

2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (I did it by weight. Weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.

Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream

To fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar
4 sticks (454 g) of butter, room temp
2 tsp lemon extract

To frost:
5 egg whites
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 sticks (227 g) butter, room temp
1 tsp lemon extract

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.

Assembly
Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake.

Sweetapolita’s Notes & Doodle Cake How-To:

1. For tips & tricks on making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, both Kaitlin & I have posts about this, so lots of info!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified and How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • You may find my previous post 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes helpful with this cake (and hopefully others).
  • I was worried at first that I somehow made the layers too thin, but they were perfect, so don’t panic when they seem almost pancake-like! Once you pile 6 of those layers and all of that buttercream, the cake is a perfect height. Mine was about 4.5″ high. Use a 9-inch,  1/4″ thick cake board when building the cake.
  • To make the doodle cake, cover the buttercream cake in white fondant and refrigerate overnight. You will need approximately 2 lbs, 3 oz of fondant for a 9″ round 5″ high cake. Remove cake from refrigerator and let child (or anyone!) colour all over cake using AmeriColor Food Colour Markers (below). Place cake back in refrigerator every 15 minutes or so, if it begins to soften before child is finished (otherwise you will get dents in the cake). It’s also fun to have everyone at a birthday party sign the cake, write a message, draw a picture, etc!
  • You can store finished cake in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature or buttercream won’t be soft enough and the flavours won’t come through as intended. I typically take this type of fondant-covered cake out of refrigerator about 6 hours before serving. Just a note the cake will dent very easily when ready to serve,  so avoid touching the cake itself.
  • As another kids craft cake alternative, you may like Paintable Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cakes.

You can find the AmeriColor Food Colour Markers here:

*A note about the rainbow cake colours: I used AmeriColor electric gel colours to get such vibrant hues in the cake while adding minimal colouring. Here are the colours I used and links to find them:

Electric Purple AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Purple – 4 oz
Electric Blue AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Blue – 4 oz
Electric Green AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Green – oz
Electric Yellow AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Yellow – 4 oz
Electric Orange AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Orange – 4 oz
Super Red AmeriColor Gel Colour – Super Red – 4 oz

Good luck & enjoy!



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