The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
Holy freaking amazing cheesecake, Batman! I’ve posted a few time in the past that I’m not a big cheesecake person. It started to change when I made the Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, and realized that I do like fancier cheesecakes, especially ones with chocolate. My problem with cheesecake is when it has an overly pronounced cream cheese flavor, but if there are other elements in the cheesecake to cut the dominating flavor of the cream cheese, I am much more likely to enjoy it. I decided to take the same approach with this cheesecake.
I had already been working on a similar cheesecake in my head, so I was glad it was chosen for Daring Bakers this month because it gave me the push I needed to try it out. I have proclaimed my love for the chocolate-peanut butter combination several times on this blog, and it was only fitting to use that combination for this challenge. I strayed from the recipe a bit, but it resulted in the best cheesecake I have ever had, and probably the most well-received dessert I have made.
I made Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies and processed them into crumbs to use for the crust, and added 1 cup of peanut butter and 3 ounces of melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate to the batter. I overbaked the cookies to make sure they were crunchy enough for the crust. I also added some homemade peanut butter patties that I made for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream. After baking, I topped it with a chocolate ganache and chopped Reese’s Cups. The chocolate and peanut butter flavors were perfectly balanced, and it was the creamiest cheesecake I’ve ever had. I used a springform pan and baked it in a water bath. I wrapped the pan with aluminum foil tightly and didn’t have any problems with water getting in. The ganache, peanut butter patties, and Reese’s Cups just added to the decadent goodness :) It was gobbled up very quickly. I will definitely make this cheesecake again and again!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Erin’s Note: I had a little bit of batter left over. I didn’t want to add so much that it was overflowing over the crust, so you can either slightly increase the crust to make it go higher up the sides, slightly reduce the recipe, make mini cheesecakes, or do as I did and just eat the leftover batter with a spoon :)
Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Crust:
Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, processed to crumbs (recipe follows)
2 ounces melted butter
Process cookies in a food processor, then mix with melted butter. Bake as directed with cheesecake recipe below.
Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted from Baking Bites)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and water until smooth.
In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients, including cocoa powder and water mixture. Add chocolate chips at the end of mixing.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly with a moistened finger.
Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 F, until golden brown and crispy.
Cool on pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 2 dozen.
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Patties, recipe follows
Chocolate Ganache, recipe follows
Garnish: chopped Reese’s Cups
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients into a 9-inch springform pan. Press crust into the bottom and up the sides of pan. Freeze the crust for at least 10 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow crust to cool completely before adding cheesecake filling.
3. Combine cream cheese, sugar, peanut butter, and melted chocolate in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy. Fold in peanut butter patties.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, spread ganache over entire cheesecake (do not take it out of the springform pan). Top with chopped Reese’s Cups. Put the cheesecake back in the refrigerator and chill until ganache is set.
Peanut Butter Patties: (adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)
¾ cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
4-6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Mix together the peanut butter and sugar in a small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Pinch off small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about ½ teaspoon each, and drop them onto the dinner plate. Once you’ve used all of the mixture, freeze the patties.
Mixing them in: Fold the Peanut Butter Patties into 1 quart of ice cream as you remove it from the machine.
Chocolate Ganache (adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, at room temperature
Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
Bring the cream to a boil, then pour half the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Working with a whisk or rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles. Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate, using the same circular motions. When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir the ganache any more than you must to blend the ingredients- the less you work it, the darker, smoother, and shinier it will be.
Pour ganache over chilled cheesecake, and refrigerate until set.