A Family Tradition

The History—and Accidental Creation—Behind Modern Oysterbar Chophouse’s Mouthwatering Peanut Butter Pie

Cat Frankel owns and operates Modern Oysterbar Chophouse with her husband, Randy. Together, along with their son, Dylan, who works as a manager and oversees the beverage program, they have created a sophisticated, chic steakhouse with meat, shellfish, seafood, and cocktails for even the most discerning of palates. They also have one of the best dessert menus in town, thanks to pastry chef Sam—who also happens to be their daughter-in-law.

Among Sam’s best-loved desserts is her Peanut Butter Fudge Pie ($12 per slice), which is a twist on a Frankel family recipe.

“I ended up making the original incarnation dessert by accident,” says Cat. “The recipe came as a result of working a slow season at a Florida country club in 1996.”

To stay busy, Cat did a kitchen apprenticeship at the country club, which included working in pastry. Her biggest assignment was to create a new dessert for the menu.

While she wanted to use chocolate as her inspiration, the chef preferred peanut butter. Compromising, they decided on a combination of two for the dessert but wanted to avoid a brownie or cake because both were overplayed at that time.

“I set my mind to making a pie, and the first attempt was utterly terrible,” says Cat. “Imagine a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup but absolutely inedible.”

Eventually, she began playing around with Nutter Butters to flavor the crust and pudding to add a layer of texture and airiness in the filling, which was inspired by charity cookbooks of her day from the likes of Junior League, all of which offered copious recipes for pudding and Jell-O. It transformed the filling into more of a mousse, and once Cat mastered a fudgy topping to complete the dish, she knew she had something special.

“The chef rolled his eyes at the ingredients at first but then he tasted it. It was on the menu a week later and became a staple in my house for every special dinner, holiday, or celebration,” she shares. “When I had Dylan, he was requesting it from the moment he was able to talk.”

Though it was Dylan’s favorite dessert, when he began to date Sam—an accomplished pastry chef—Cat and her family indulged in all of Sam’s desserts and the pie went on a hiatus.

“One day, Dylan mentioned this famous peanut butter pie and I asked Cat why I never tasted it, so we got to work making one together,” says Sam, who loved it as much as the rest of her family. “I knew it needed to be on our menu, and it has—with some fun secret enhancements from me—since the day we opened our doors.”

While the recipe served at Modern Oysterbar is slightly different and plated with panache, the flavors are all those that have been special to the Frankel family for 27 years.

“And it will continue to be special as earlier this year I taught my granddaughter the recipe, making it side by side right along with a very special new memory,” says Cat.


Recipe for Original Frankel Peanut Butter Fudge Pie

1 quart heavy cream

1/2 cup Jif Peanut Butter

1 vanilla instant pudding (3 1/2-ounce package)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup additional heavy cream

2 ounces melted butter, divided

6 ounces chocolate chips

Pure vanilla extract

1/2 pound Nutter Butter Cookies

1 ounce additional melted butter

Blend heavy cream and peanut butter together on low speed of mixer until peanut butter is dissolved. Add vanilla pudding mix. As mixture thickens, whip on high speed until reaching the consistency of whipped cream. Be careful not to overbeat mixture. Put whipped peanut butter mixture to the side.

Separately, place vanilla pudding mixture, sugar, additional heavy cream, 1 ounce melted butter, and chocolate chips into a saucepan on low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted. Let cool to room temperature. This will serve as the fudgy sauce.

For the crust, grind Nutter Butters in a food processor and add the additional ounce of melted butter. Press mixture into an 8-inch pie pan, add a little more melted butter, if necessary, and bake at 350 F degrees for about 10 minutes.

Once out of the oven, place half of the whipped peanut butter mixture into the pie shell and then top with fudgy sauce. Place in freezer until firm. Once firm, spread the remaining peanut butter mixture over the top and refreeze for 4 hours. If desired, make another batch of the chocolate fudge sauce for the top. Enjoy!

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