I love ghost stories. (If you do as well, I highly recommend the Two Girls One Ghost podcast, btw.) I love haunted places, photos of abandoned buildings and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (this is pretty surprising to some people, because I happen to be a super jumpy, easily-startled person and I can’t handle watching most scary movies). But recently I’ve encountered a type of ghost that is anything but charming—the post-date ghost.
If you’ve been part of the dating scene anytime over the past … oh, decade? … you’ve probably been ghosted or ghosted someone yourself. I’ve been guilty of occasionally ghosting a guy after the first date (for me it often comes from a Chidi-level of anxiety over trying to figure out what to say that won’t hurt the other person’s feelings but will clearly get the message across that I’m just not that interested. I’ll put off replying to a date request for so long that even if I was to draft the perfect balance of nicety and straightforwardness, my window of opportunity to send the message without coming across as a total freak has long closed.) I know, I know. I should just reply with a very simple thank you but no thank you (and I apologize if I’ve ever ghosted you). Ghosting someone is rude, totally disrespectful, super lazy, and can be even more hurtful and confusing to the other person than just telling them the truth.
I’m going to be honest, anytime I’ve been ghosted I actually haven’t been too upset about it, probably because there was a mutual feeling of indifference towards each other—That is until recently. About a month ago I experience my first, truly frustrating ghosting experience. It went a little like this: A Ghost reached out to me via a dating app one evening to chat. We had a lovely conversation, felt like there was a great connection. We even swapped over to using our actual phone numbers and texting pretty fast (so we could share photos. Ghost was on a weekend trip). “We should go on a date,” he suggested. Based on the conversation I was actually looking forward to going out on this date (Huge mistake? As Anna Akana advices “Keep your expectations low.”) The next day, my ghost reached out again. More videos, photos, and funny stories were shared. Everything appeared to be great. And then?
Days went by without a word. Not a text message, no response to my last message, not even an emoticon. Except he wasn’t totally gone, because while not replying to my message for days on end, he was still getting onto Instagram and watching every one of my Instagram stories. What??? You have time to check in on what I’m doing on social media but you don’t have time to reply to a text message? It’s one thing to ghost someone, but this felt like taking it to a whole new level. Ghosting someone before following through with a date that was your idea in the first place, and then having the gaul to haunt them on social media? That’s just unnecessarily mean. It left me with so many questions. Why reach out in the first place? Why suggest a date you weren’t intending to go on? Why have late night conversations with me about your dreams and goals? And why go though the time and effort of watching my videos but not have the balls to send a super generic message like, “I’m sorry, I’m a little too busy and it’s not a good time for me to try to date.” It’s fine if you don’t want to date me, but don’t act like you never saw my text while still obsessively following my social media.
For a little context for this next part: I’m a big fan of the movie Waitress (though I haven’t seen the Broadway production yet). Probably for her knack of naming pies. I have a similar habit for naming different bakes goods or meals I’ve cook as well. Such as my Sorry-You-Got-Arrested-On-Christmas-Shepards-Pie or my famous I’m-About-To-Give-You-Bad-News-Waffles. (The waffles are served with lemon curd and a side of I’m-Trying-Not-To-Be-A-Total-B-About-This-Bacon.) So while finding myself stalking around my kitchen, infuriated and confused because my ghost has just ghosted out mid-conversation but still managed to squeeze in a social media haunting only 20 minutes after never speaking to me again, I started finding myself inspired to create a dessert, particularly a pie.
Bitter sweet chocolate for the conflicting swirl of emotions I was feeling; hazelnut crust and peanut butter filling for a particular body part I suspect my ghost was lacking; frozen for the chill you feel while being haunted by a ghost; and cayenne pepper for the burning retort I’d say to my ghost if I ever had the opportunity. The combination of dark chocolate, peanut butter and cayenne pepper is one of my favorites. (I happen to also have a brownie recipe that used super dark chocolate, hazelnuts, sea salt, and cayenne pepper that I’ll share sometime in the future). In addition, to being absolutely delicious, I got a certain level of satisfaction from all the hidden symbolism. However, even if you aren’t being haunted by an annoying ghost (literally or metaphorically) the color combinations on this pie make it feel like a fantastic dessert around halloween. The dark, blackish-brown of the crust and chocolate mix with the light brown, orangey tones of the peanut butter filling to make it feel very festive.
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 cup coconut flakes
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 ounces dark chocolate (I use 60 percent, bitter sweet)
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I use the natural, salt-added creamy kind. You know, the stuff you have to stir)
1/2 cup chopped and pitted medjool dates
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 ounces dark chocolate
1/2 milk (I like to use coconut milk but regular dairy works fine)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (+ more for topping)
Handful of chopped hazelnuts for topping
Using a food processor, combine nuts, coconut, and cacao powder. Pulse until well combined and finely chopped. Add melted butter. Dough should be slightly more sticky and hold together when pressed but still cornmeal-y. Spread across the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan or tart pan, pressing the crust up around the side to create an edge. Melt chocolate (you can add splash of milk if you want). Spread a thin layer of melted chocolate across the crust. Place in freezer.
Mix dates, peanut butter, and vanilla in a food processor. Pulse until completely smooth (make sure to pre chop the dates, or they will be very difficult to mix in the food processor). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl whip the cream with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form (be patient; don’t under mix it or the texture won’t be right). Once you have reached the stiff peak stage, swap to a spatula and gently fold in the peanut butter mixture until completely incorporated. The batter will have no streaks remaining once completely mixed. Take your time to use a folding technique so the cream doesn’t lose its “loftiness”. Once completely mixed, spread evenly on crust and return to freezer.
Melt the remaining chocolate, milk, and cayenne pepper. (You can do this using a double boiler on the stove or in a microwave in a microwave safe bowl). Remove pie from freezer and spread chocolate over the peanut butter layer. I like to spread most of it and then use a spoon to drizzle the rest. Sprinkle a dash of cayenne and the chopped hazelnuts on top. Return to freezer and let chill for 2 hours (should be completely firm). Once firm, you can remove the side of the springform pan (if that’s what you used). Let rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Can be eating on it’s own or served with whipped cream.
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.