I’m here, I’m alive, I’ve survived another year! Go me! I know it’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other, but it’s been a busy year so it’s been hard to find time to sit down and blog. But, I’M BACK KIDS! It’s my birthday gift to me (and you)! For those of you who have been around awhile, you may be aware that every year I make my own birthday cake. This year was no exception. Previous birthdays included:
When I saw this cheesecake over on Smitten Kitchen, I just knew I needed to make it for my birthday. With layers of chocolate cookie crust, rich chocolate fudge, and creamy peanut butter cheesecake, all topped off with a chocolate ganache.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake
For the crust
- 9 oz (1 package) Nabisco chocolate wafers
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the fudge
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 13 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
For the cheesecake
- 2 8-oz packages full fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup full fat sour cream, room temperature
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the ganache
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
Prepare the pan
- Cover the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with two layers of aluminum foil.
For the crust
- Finely crush wafers in a food processor until they make fine crumbs. Add chocolate chips and brown sugar a pulse to combine. Add butter and continue pulsing until thoroughly moistened. (If you don't have a food processor, you can crush the cookies in a heavy duty ziploc bag using a rolling pin, then pour into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients).
- Transfer the crumbs to the springform pan and press them up the sides of the pan almost to the top (within a half inch) and into the bottom of the pan to form the crust. Place in refrigerator to chill while you make the fudge.
Make the fudge
- Bring heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and peanut butter, whisking until smooth. Pour into pan and spread into an even layer. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes, until firm.
Make the cheesecake
- Preheat the oven to 325°F
- Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Scrape down the sides and add the sour cream, beating to combine.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.
- Add vanilla and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom to ensure everything is evenly mixed. Pour cheesecake over the fudge layer.
Bake in a water bath
- Place foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan large enough to hold it.
- Fill the pan with enough hot water to come 1 inch up the side of the springform pan and transfer very carefully to the oven.
- If you don't want to use a water bath, you can bake it without a water bath as well, but the water bath is more gentle. To bake without a water bath, simply place your springform pan onto a baking sheet in the oven. (The baking sheet will make it easier to remove when the cheesecake is done).
- Bake the cheesecake for 75 to 90 minutes until the cake is mostly firm but will still jiggle a bit in the middle when poked. If you like to be more scientific, the center of the cheesecake should reach about 150-155°F on an instant read thermometer. The top will be a light golden brown.
- When done, allow to cool about 30 minutes on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator for at 3 hours (or longer).
Make the ganache
- Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering.
- Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and peanut butter, whisking until smooth and shiny.
- Pour onto the cheesecake and spread evenly across the top of the cheesecake.
- Return cheesecake to fridge for at least 30 minutes, until the ganache has set.
Serve the cheesecake
- Run a small offset spatula or butter knife around the outside of the cake to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan. Unhinge the sides to remove the bottom piece containing the cheesecake.
- To cut the cheesecake, run a sharp knife under hot water and wipe with a warm damp cloth. Cut into thin slices, pressing firmly at the bottom to ensure you cut through the crust layer at the bottom, wiping the knife as needed.
[ Recipe from Smitten Kitchen ]
Welcome back to Baked Occasionally – where Shannon and I bake our way through the Baked Occasions book, month by month, just for fun. We do all the hard work, so you don’t have to, and let you know what tricks we learn along the way!
After weeks of indecision, Mr. Eats chose this month’s recipe… on Friday evening, actually. Yes, I suck, I know. Luckily for us, these required zero tinkering, they came out perfect on the first try.
Although technically for Canada Day, which has passed, I’ll dedicate these babies to my favorite Canadian, Movita Beaucoup in honor of Canada anyway. Besides, these chilly treats will make the perfect treat all summer long regardless of your location.
Featuring a salty, chocolate crust topped with rich, cool ice cream and a thin layer of fudge – these bite-sized treats are absolutely irresistible. When perusing the book recipes, I wasn’t even particularly interested in this recipe, but I gave the burden joy of choosing July’s recipe to Mr. Eats whose love for ice cream immediately drew him to these.
In case you’re wondering, I used Tillamook’s vanilla chocolate chip ice cream because it’s what I had in the freezer. If Tillamook is available near you, you absolutely must get their ice cream as it’s hands down my favorite (mass-produced) ice cream of all time. Just sayin’. This stuff is goooood.
What I liked
- Easy peasy – This is like the easiest thing I’ve ever made. I could have fancied it up with homemade ice cream, but why bother?
- Oven-free! – That’s right! You’d be surprised how hard our a/c has to work when it’s 110 out and I turn the oven on. Trust me, it’s not pretty. Plus, oven-free makes these super kid-friendly too so let the little ones help out!
What I didn’t
- Nothing – Seriously – Not a thing! In this case, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! I’m generally against nuts in my desserts but they blend in perfectly with the bits of pretzel and digestive cookies. If there’s a nut allergy or something in your family, go ahead and omit them I don’t think it’d make much difference.
For the crust
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup) toasted walnuts,, chopped
- 5 1/4 ounces digestive biscuits or graham crackers (about 15 biscuits)
- 2 1/2 ounces thin pretzel sticks
- 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 1 large egg,beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the ice cream
- 2 pints ice cream (recommended: vanilla, coffee, or salted caramel)
For the fudge
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Make the crust
- Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 inch overhang
- Place walnuts in a large bowl
- Crush digestive biscuits (or graham crackers) until finely ground,, with a few coarse chunks remaining. Add to walnuts. You can do this using a food processor or by putting them into a large ziploc bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.
- Coarsely crush pretzels, leaving peanut-sized chunks, and add to the bowl with walnuts and biscuit crumbs.
- Place another large bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add butter to the bowl and heat until melted.
- Once the butter is melted, remove the bowl from the double boiler and add the brown sugar and cocoa to the bowl, whisking until combined. While whisking, add the egg in a slow steady stream. Return the bowl over the simmering water and whisk for another 60 to 90 seconds until smooth, shiny, and slightly thickened.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Add the walnut/crumb mixture, stirring with a spatula to combine until the entire mixture is moistened.
- Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.
Ice cream time
- Set ice cream out for 10 to 15 minutes to soften. Place in a large bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until softened,, but not melted.
- Remove crust from refrigerator and spread the ice cream over the crust, smoothing the top.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for 2 hours.
Make the fudge
- While the bars are chilling, make the fudge layer by heating the cream, butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Stir the mixture and once it begins to simmer remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is completely smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- Remove pan from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap; pour the fudge over the top of the ice cream layer.
- Use a small offset spatula to spread the fudge in an even layer. Re-cover with plastic wrap and return to the freezer for another 2 hours.
- Remove bars from pan using the parchment overhang to pull the bars up from the pan. Place on a cutting board.
- Run a sharp knife under warm water and cut into bars, running the knife under water and wiping it clean as needed.
- Serve immediately, or wrap individual bars with plastic wrap and store in a freezer-safe bag until ready to eat.
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This month’s Baked, Occasionally recipe was my choice and, big shocker here, I chose peanut butter and chocolate. Because, honestly, this cake was getting made whether it was for this series or not so I might as well just do it, right? Plus, March is my birthday month so I try to fill it with all of my favorite things, two of them being chocolate and peanut butter. Continue reading
Hello and welcome to the final installment of our 2015 Jeni’s Spinalong Project! There are no plans yet to carry this into 2016, but I’m pretty sure Ms Table is going to try to talk me into it… We’ll see. Continue reading