This Is How My Dad and I Finally Agreed on What Makes Pie, Pie

Thanks to Erin McDowell, we finally see eye to eye.

March 12, 2020

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I have a really big sweet tooth and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m a firm believer that the best way to fix a bad day (or week) is with a generously frosted cupcake, that a square of dark chocolate should be eaten every night after dinner and that slightly melted ice cream — no matter what the flavor — just tastes better.

People who have had the pleasure of meeting my dad, Neven, know that I inherited this love of sweets from him. I can’t even begin to tell you how many arguments he and my mom have had because she’s brought home a box of cookies or cake, only to find it empty a few hours later. (They literally just had one last night over a chocolate babka.) And though my dad and I agree on almost everything when it comes to decadent desserts, we just can’t see eye to eye when it comes to cream pie.

Though we both agree that a cream-, custard- or pudding-based pie is absolutely delicious — we always clash over whether or not the creamy-dreamy creation actually counts as pie. By default, I think its being housed in a buttery crust automatically makes it one. My father, on the other hand, claims that pies need to have a crunchy texture, like traditional Pecan Pie, or contain toothsome add-ins, like an Apple Crumb Pie, to make it count as a member of the pie hierarchy.

So, you can only imagine what happens when anything Key Lime, Lemon Meringue or Banana Cream enters our house. Complete and utter pandemonium!

Naturally, I’ve now made it my life’s mission to find a cream pie that will finally change my father’s mind once and for all. And, thank the foodie gods, I might have just found it in the form of Erin McDowell’s Chocolate Cream Pie with Whipped Peanut Butter Cream class on the Food Network Kitchen app.

Now I know what you’re thinking but, Michelle, it’s just a basic cream pie. Or is it?!

Though Erin’s pie doesn’t have any traditional nutty or fruity additions per my father’s usual criteria, the inclusion of frozen peanut butter as a fat in the pie’s crust is something I can’t ignore. And since peanut butter is one of my dad’s favorite snacks, I know he won’t be able to either. This ingenious tip basically turns the pie’s bottom layer into a massive peanut butter cookie, hence giving my dad the crispy, crunchy texture he’s always griping about cream pies lacking.

If that wasn’t enough to give me a slight edge in this debate, Erin also tops her chocolate custard with a luscious layer of peanut butter whipped cream — how’s that for a toothsome add-in, Dad?

“I can’t tell you how many versions of this pie I’ve made without any peanut butter until I realized that peanut butter was the missing key,” Erin says at the end of this on-demand class, and honestly, I’m 99% sure my dad will be saying the same thing once we bake up our own this weekend. Who knew — after years and years of bickering, all we needed was a little peanut butter!

If you want to try Erin McDowell's magical cream pie for yourself, but haven’t subscribed to the Food Network Kitchen app yet, you’re in luck! For a limited time, we’re making this class free for everyone! Happy Baking!

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