Chocolate and peanut butter have long been a favorite combination of peanut butter lovers everywhere. Some argue that this sinful combination even came before PB&J. Don't be hatin, Jelly. It's just that the silky smoothness of chocolate...or in this case a combination of fudge AND ganache, is just infinitely better with peanut butter than jelly is. I mean c'mon. Jelly is a FRUIT for crying out loud!
I made this cake for Chris' 28th birthday. (Yes, this recipe is from August. I already told you I'm behind so cut me some slack, will ya?!). As I state I think in pretty much any post that involves the ingredient peanut butter, it is his absolutely favorite. So, when I was looking to make him a special treat it's no surprise that I picked this one.
To make it a little less labor intensive and not seem as time consuming, I made this cheesecake in phases. One night after dinner I baked the crust then let it cool and did the fudge. The following Saturday morning I baked the cheesecake then let it cool in the fridge during the day while we were out running errands. Finally, I added the ganache and let it set up before putting the finishing decorating touches on it just before we went out to dinner to celebrate. Voila!
Peanut butter. Fudge (and unspoken Ganache). Cheesecake (with surprise crumbly oreo crust!). Yes, you just may get a coronary from reading these words but WOW is it worth it. Chris told me it tasted as good as or better than his favorite peanut butter cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory. How's that for a compliment? And heck, I'm sure it also matches those cheesecakes in caloric content too. So good and practically mind blowing!
One Year Ago: Spinach, Sausage, and Cheese Manicotti, Corn Casserole, and Sweet Potato Souffle (a standard at my family Thanksgiving!)
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Cooling/Chill Time: 5 hours
Yield: 12 to 16 servings (depending on how generous you are with your cuts)
For the Crust:
- 32 Oreo cookies, finely crushed or ground in a food processor
- 5½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of salt
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 20 miniature peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped and roughly chopped
- 24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (300 degrees F if you are using a dark or non-stick pan). Butter a 9″ springform pan and set aside.
- To make the crust, stir the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl with a fork until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. (I like to use the bottom a measuring cup to press the crumbs around the pan. I’ve found that they get evenly distributed that way and end up looking neater around the sides.) Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let cool.
- To make the fudge, put the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately pour the simmering cream over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1-2 minutes, then add the vanilla extract and stir with a whisk or rubber spatula until smooth and combined. Pour the fudge into the cooled crust and spread evenly over the bottom. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and sprinkle surface with the chopped peanut butter cups. Return to freezer for 10 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Scrape the bowl and mix on low for another 20 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling over the fudge and peanut butter cups. Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set and the middle just slightly jiggles, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour). Refrigerate the cheesecake at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a warm towel around the outside of the springform pan to loosen the crust from the sides. Carefully remove the sides from the springform pan.
- Before serving, prepare the ganache topping. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately pour the simmering cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1-2 minutes and then stir with a whisk or rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganache on the top of the cheese and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Return to the refrigerator to set the ganache, about 20 minutes. Garnish as desired using additional Reese cups and/or by piping peanut butter frosting (I used a half batch of this).