Happy Sunday, Bread Heads!
This week we’re going to fulfill a recipe request. I’d never thought about mixing the ambrosia that is cheesecake with peanut butter, but when a friend of my wife’s asked if it were possible, the answer was, of course, why not?
Thinking it through I realized that no matter how dedicated a peanut butter fanatic one was, a whole cheesecake with only the peanut butter flavor was not going to work. It was (if it is possible) too much of a good thing. So, what to do? Well you add in another good thing, of course!
So, I decided that I’d make a chocolate crust. Unlike most folks that does not mean that I was going to buy some chocolate wafers and crumble them up! Come on folks! This is a baking series and there is almost nothing easier than a cookie crust for a cheesecake.
When I baked the test version of this recipe it was good, but there was still not enough chocolate flavor in compared to the amount of peanut butter. Luckily there were chocolate chips in the house! I used the mini ones because while I wanted to add more chocolate flavor I wanted it to be the counter point, and not overwhelm the luscious peanut butter flavored cake. The result was just right!
So, here you have it a new (at least to me) variant on an old favorite, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheese Cake! Now, let’s bake!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheese Cake
7 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
6 tablespoons ( ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons for the pedantic amongst you) sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons of coco powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon of baking powder (no need to cut this one down if you are baking of 5,000 feet)
5 8oz packages of cream cheese (at room temperature)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 eggs (at room temperature)
Baking Pans – 1 9” Springform pan, buttered, the bottom lined with parchment paper, 1 sheet pan with a ½ lip.
The most important thing you can do to successfully bake a cheesecake is to have all the ingredients at room temperature (ever notice that whatever temperature a room is, it is always room temperature?) this assures that all the ingredients mix completely, so you have a uniform texture to the finished cake. So, about an hour before starting to actually bake set out the cream cheese, the butter and the eggs.
Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Get out your springform pan and butter it liberally (you’ll need this to help the crust to stand up while baking, and then to let go when it is unmolded). Cut out a circle of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom (don’t worry at all if it goes a little why up the sides).
In a large bowl cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks. In a small bowl, combine the flour, coco powder, salt and baking powder, give it a good mix with a whisk so everything is evenly distributed.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. You will wind up with a really dry batter, that is exactly as it should be. Now pour half of the batter into the springform pan. Press it firmly into the bottom of the pan. Use the remaining half to line the sides of the pan all the way to the top.
Place the pan in your preheated oven and bake for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
You can make your cake batter while the crust is baking. This is best down with a stand mixer or a set of hand mixers. You could beat this by hand but I find that it is hard for novice bakers to get everything evenly combined that way. Since this is all about getting the final product and not proving our hand baking chops, use a mixer and save yourself some brain damage.
In the work bowl of your stand mixer or in your large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter for no more than 30 seconds. You are just looking for it to be evenly creamy. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl ( really get to the bottom of the bowl with this or you’ll find that you have unmixed cream cheese when you pour the batter out1).
Add the sugar in a stream while beating and beat for 30 more seconds. Then, scrape down the bowl (yes, we really are going to do this after each and every addition of an ingredient). Beat in the vanilla and one egg, just until they are mixed in, then, you guessed it; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
By now you will have a creamy and smooth batter. Add the chocolate chips and beat for 15 seconds.
Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in aluminum foil so that it is covered at least an 1” high all the way around (this is going to keep any water from getting into the pan as the cake bakes).
Pour the cake batter into the pan. It is going to fill it all the way to the top. Set the springform pan on the sheet pan and slide it into the oven. Before you close the door pour about 2 cups of warm water onto the sheet pan (this step is critical as it will allow the cake to bake gently). Bake for 90 minutes.
The cake is done when it is lightly browned and the middle just barely giggles when moved. Carefully remove from the oven and set the springform pan on a wire rack to cool.
Now comes the hard part, you can not have any of this cake until it has not only completely cooled but also chilled at least 8 hours (or overnight). Wait until it is cool to the touch then wrap the whole thing (pan and all) in plastic wrap and stash it in the ‘fridge.
The next day (yes I mean it! No cheating!), you are going to unmold the cake. Remove it from the ‘fridge, and flip the latch on the springform pan. Rock the outer ring gently to get to away from the sides of the cake, then lift it off.
Now take a large plate and place it on top of the cheesecake. Flip the whole thing over so you are looking at the bottom part of the springform pan. Remove the bottom pan and the parchment paper. Place your serving plat on the crust of the cake. Flip the two plates and the cake over again and remove the top plate.
If you can wait until the cake comes back up to room temperature you’ll be happiest but lots of folks can’t wait that long so, they cut right in, you can do that too, if you want.
So there you have it Bread Heads, a chocolate and peanut butter treat fit for a King or Queen!
The flour is yours!