Every year for my and Annie's birthday, we challenge one another with a dessert and over the years, they've gotten more and more difficult and time consuming. One year I made her a flourless chocolate cake. Then she made me a carrot cake. The next year I made her a peanut butter bread pudding which I served with a chocolate sauce and banana ice cream. She in turn made me individual pavlovas with coconut custard. Never having made meringues before, the first several attempts were less than satisfactory and they had to be remade. This past year, I requested a chocolate and coconut charlotte that required Annie to make her one chocolate lady fingers. As revenge I'm sure, for her birthday this year she more or less demanded a pineapple dacquoise.
Ok here's the thing. I totally would have attempted it except for one thing - I was also already making dinner. Annie's parents, Greg and Bev had flown to town for the weekend and wanted to see the new house, so we were going to host a little, intimate birthday dinner party. The centerpiece of the menu was a coq au vin, the homey French dish of chicken braised with wine. This version comes from the Balthazar cookbook. To go with it, I planned a simple starter salad of mixed greens, sliced pear, a classic French viniagrette with tarragon and shavings of pecorino. To soak up with coq au vin's rich gravy, I was going to make a decadent parsnip puree.
With all this going on in addition to dessert, the dacquoise seemed a little too ambitious. The meal itself was already ambitious. In the end, I wound up making a simple but delicious peanut butter pie with a chocolate cookie crust. It seems like with this intro, this post ought to be about the the afore mentioned pie. But here's the thing. I didn't take pictures of the pie. I took pictures of the coq au vin. So that's the recipe we have. (Note that I sort of doubled part of the recipe so the amounts in the photographs don't reflect the ingredients list.)INGREDIENTS