Another Random Recipe

This is one of those I got suckered into. My sister – who is not a baker, or at least she doesn’t believe she can be – wanted this cake for her husband’s birthday. When she mentioned it, I knew what was coming, but since I was busy stuffing my face at our mom’s table, I couldn’t make a graceful escape.  Of course I said yes. That’s what you do in a family. You whine and complain about it later and hold it over their heads forever, but you still say yes. 

And then she sent me the recipe.  It had 34 ingredients and 87 steps.

I said, “&*$%?” (Roughly translated, that means, “Nope.”)

I went back and looked again, wondering if I could make any changes to make it a little smoother. I swear sometimes I think people publish recipes formatted in such a complicated way as to make even experienced cooks nervous. And most of the time, it just isn’t necessary. 

So here is my version. (Make sure to check the notes at the bottom for what I will do differently next time.)

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:

30 chocolate sandwich cookies
6 tbs butter, melted
dash of salt

Cheesecake Ingredients:

32 oz (8 bricks) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla (REAL! Never, ever, ever, ever use imitation vanilla!)
12 oz Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups miniatures, unwrapped and roughly chopped

Topping:

1/2 cup cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 oz Reese’s minis, whole or chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. *Fill a pan (any pan, doesn’t matter) halfway with water and place on bottom rack of oven.*
Use a food processor to chop the cookies into fine crumbs. Add in the butter and salt and process briefly to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, then set aside to cool. 

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl so it mixes uniformly.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating briefly after each one, then scrape the sides of the bowl again.
Add in the brown sugar, peanut butter, cream, and vanilla; beat until combined. 
Gently fold in the chopped up Reese’s cups.
Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.

Bake the cheesecake until it is just set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the the temperature reduce slowly, for about an hour. Remove from oven, cool completely, then refrigerate. 

To make the chocolate topping, heat the cream in a small pan, to simmering, just before boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes and then stir until smooth. 
Drizzle the chocolate over the top and (if you want, and why wouldn’t you?) down the sides of the chilled cheesecake. Sprinkle the remainder of the Reese’s cups on top, and drizzle with a bit more of the chocolate topping.

Reese's cheesecake

What I will do differently next time. (If there is a next time!) 

I will reduce the peanut butter from a full cup to a half cup. By using a full cup, it overpowers the rest of the flavors somewhat. I would also add 1/2 cup of regular granulated sugar in addition to the 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. 

I will also add about 3 tbs of flour. This is simply a matter of texture. I like cheesecake that is a bit more firm and dense, a small amount of flour would do that. 

*A note about the pan of water – this recipe, like many others, calls for baking your cheesecake in a water bath. It said to wrap the bottom of your cheesecake tightly with aluminum foil, then set the pan inside a larger pan with about an inch of hot water in it, then to put the whole set up in the oven together. Now, maybe I’m just not clever enough to wrap a pan with aluminum foil, but every single time that I have followed this method in a recipe, it backfires on me. You can’t really make a springform pan water tight. You just can’t. And if the water in your pan below the cheesecake simmers at all, it can easily get over the aluminum foil. My solution is just to put a separate pan of water on the lower rack. It accomplishes the same thing, which is to keep the outside of the cake from drying out and helping it to cook evenly. And it’s much simpler. I like simple. Simple is good. Some of the best advice I’ve ever heard is, “Keep it simple, stupid!”

So, there you go. If you have a sweet tooth that demands a combination of cheesecake, peanut butter, and chocolate, here is your fix.  Enjoy!  

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