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‘Save the world, one pie at a time’

  • Peanut Butter Brownie Pie With a Pretzel Crust. Illustrates FOOD-PIE (category d), by Eliza Krigman, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, April 14, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)<br/><br/>

    Peanut Butter Brownie Pie With a Pretzel Crust. Illustrates FOOD-PIE (category d), by Eliza Krigman, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, April 14, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)

  • Peanut Butter Brownie Pie With a Pretzel Crust. Illustrates FOOD-PIE (category d), by Eliza Krigman, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, April 14, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)<br/><br/>

    Peanut Butter Brownie Pie With a Pretzel Crust. Illustrates FOOD-PIE (category d), by Eliza Krigman, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, April 14, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)

  • Peanut Butter Brownie Pie With a Pretzel Crust. Illustrates FOOD-PIE (category d), by Eliza Krigman, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, April 14, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)<br/><br/>
  • Peanut Butter Brownie Pie With a Pretzel Crust. Illustrates FOOD-PIE (category d), by Eliza Krigman, special to The Washington Post. Moved Monday, April 14, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey)<br/><br/>

Teeny Lamothe was acting in Chicago – and babysitting to make ends meet – when she realized she wanted to follow her bliss: pie. She was baking one almost every day (and holding regular pie parties to unload her bounty), so she contemplated applying to culinary school.

The hefty price tag stopped her. So did the fact that she wanted a narrow, not general, focus. Lamothe was after an education in pies and pies alone – not in the truffles, souffles and everything else that would come with a classical culinary curriculum.

The solution? She e-mailed the owners of pie shops and bakeries across the country, offering a month of free labor in exchange for the chance to learn about piemaking and running a small business. In fall 2011 she left her home and spent a year traveling cross-country, with stops in Seattle, Boston, South Florida and in between. Branding her trip an effort to “save the world one pie at a time,” Lamothe used an Indiegogo campaign to bring in more than $3,000 to help fund her travels, wrote a Tumblr blog and got a cookbook deal. Teeny’s Tour of Pie was published last month.

Lamothe, 30, moved to Washington after her tour and started Teeny Pies, baking up to 200 pies (large and small) every week. She sells them through Norman’s Farm Market, a community-supported agriculture program in Potomac, Md., and the farm-delivery service Hometown Harvest.

Here, Lamothe shares her recipe for Peanut Butter Brownie Pie with Pretzel Crust. The combination is a winning one: a rich, chewy chocolate brownie baked inside a crushed-pretzel crust.

Peanut Butter Brownie Pie With a Pretzel Crust

For the crust:

11/4 cups pretzel crumbs (from about 41/2 cups pretzels)

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, preferably the individually wrapped 1-ounce pieces for baking

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a 9-inch pie plate at hand.

Place the crumbs in a mixing bowl. Pour the melted butter over them and stir until evenly coated.

Spoon three-quarters of the mixture into the pie plate; press it against the sides to build a 1/4-inch-thick wall all around.

Spoon the remaining mixture into the center/bottom of the pie plate and press to form a solid bottom, making sure the bottom and sides are joined.

Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a rack, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water over medium heat.

Combine the butter, chocolate and 1/4 cup of the peanut butter in a heatproof bowl that’s wide enough to cover the saucepan. Set the bowl on the saucepan; once the ingredients have melted, stir until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Whisk in the cocoa powder. Cool.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes; it will be a little runny. Remove from the heat.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a separate mixing bowl. Slowly add the cooled chocolate mixture, whisking until well incorporated.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl, then add to the chocolate batter; stir until smooth and well incorporated.

Pour into the chilled pretzel pie shell, smoothing the surface.

Drizzle or spoon the runny peanut butter into the filling; use a toothpick or round-edged knife to swirl or work it in.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted 2 inches from the edge of the crust comes out clean.

Cool before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings (one 9-inch pie).

VARIATION: Prepare, pre-bake and chill the crusts in four 5-inch pie tins. Divide the filling among the crusts; proceed with the recipe as directed. The filling mixture might sink a bit as it cools.

MAKE AHEAD: The baked, cooled crust needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance.

The pie can be kept at room temperature, covered, for 2 to 3 days.

Adapted from “Teeny’s Tour of Pie: Mastering the Art of Pie in 67 Recipes,” by Teeny Lamothe

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