Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake

Are you ready for something truly decadent? 

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!)

Peanut-Butter-Fudge Cheesecake

Peanut-Butter-Fudge Cheesecake

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
For the Fudge:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 20 miniature peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped and roughly chopped
For the Cheesecake:

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
For the Ganache Topping:
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let cool.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
Source: Brown Eyed Baker

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

We're still getting over the sugar rush of Halloween and the turkeys haven't even gone out for slaughter yet for Thanksgiving but by golly it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 

I am amazed year after year how the Christmas season seems to extend itself to be earlier and earlier.  I think I saw Christmas goods for sale at the beginning of OCTOBER and some radio stations have already switched over to 24/7 Christmas music.  Don't get me wrong.  I *love* Christmas music and all things Christmas but I also love paying each holiday its due respect, first.

Anyway, it may not exactly be Christmas time yet but I bet you ARE starting to think about mailing out your holiday cards soon, right?  Well you're in luck because this year, Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 FREE photocards from their 2010 Holiday Card Collection!  It doesn't matter what kind of blog you have, you just need to have one (or sign up for one now using a site such as blogger or my old original blogspace, livejournal).  It's free to sign up for a blog and free to get beautiful photocards so you get to show off how fantastic you look :).

It's not clear yet to me what type of cards you get (folded or flat) but either way Edit: Duh, read the fine print!  There's always fine print!  This one says "Bloggers are eligible to receive 50 holiday cards. Free cards are for 5×7 folded or flat stationery cards. Offer ends December 31, 2010. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply". 

I like to send out photocards to our friends and family when we have a major life change. In the past this has been getting married and buying our first house together. This year, I want our card to feature our new family addition. No, not a baby...we're not there yet...unless you count FUR babies :). That's right, our cutie beagle Toby is going to be gracing our Christmas cards with us this year and all thanks to this promotion.  I've had great success using Shutterfly to share photos online but I also really like their wall calendars and photo books.  I've used their photobooks for everything from graduation guestbooks to wedding albums for our parents.  They're so versatile and very easy to create your own storybooks.  Since I'm a sucker for art (and have TONS of pictures I still need to print!), I might even try their canvas wall art sometime, too.

Now back to the cards.  They have some pretty photocard designs and the possibilities are endless!

I think I like this one best!  Very sophistacated and pretty.

This one is bold and modern.
And I like the use of traditional colors and fun heading text in this one.

So there's a few ideas to get you started.  Time to get your own because bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly, follow the arrow! -->

Now to find the perfect picture and design for ours...

Enjoy and shout out to Jes at Bleu Dress for blogging about this so that I could share it with you!

Disclosure: I am being compensated with 50 free photocards from Shutterfly by participating in this program.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken and Cheddar Dog Treats

Tell me.  How can you say "no" to such a sweet face?

I know I can' good thing that these are dog biscuits and designed with his dietary needs in mind :).

I made these biscuits as a special treat for Toby and his "cousin" (aka my cousin's dog) Achilles for Fourth of July.  Achilles didn't like Toby very much at first.  In fact, he got quite territorial and his fur stood on end at first sight of Toby.  Once thesese beagle boys got to play around a bit...

Bark!  Want to play?


Mercy!  I give up - you are indeed top beagle!

They became good friends once Achilles reconfirmed and asserted his dominance.

It's hard to imagine life without a dog now that he's a part of our lives.  Toby and I take a morning walk together (though, very cold and dark now!) and then he gets a mini-walk/bio-break after work.  At meal times, he waits ever so patiently for us to finish eating at the table without so much as a bark or whimper (most days, anyway).  Sometimes, he even drools a little bit while he's waiting.  After dinner, we go for an evening family walk.  It's great because Chris and I get off our lazy butts to exercise and it allows for some quiet time for us to talk and enjoy the company of our boy together.

Chris thought I was crazy for making food for our dog but if you think about it, Toby's a part of our family!  If you have a special furry someone in your life (and no...I'm not talking about your husbands, ladies), go show him or her how much you love them by making some doggy treats of their own :).

One Year Ago: Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, and Buttermilk Cornbread

Chicken and Cheddar Dog Treats
Printer-Friendly Version

  • 1 1/3 c wheat flour
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 c + 1 Tbsp low sodium chicken broth*
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • Fresh parsley (optional - supposed to be good for their breath and adds some pretty color!)
* Note: You want to use homemade chicken broth or a store bought variety that does not include onion to be safe. It can be toxic to dogs. Garlic can also be toxic however larger quantities are required to be toxic.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Mix until ingredients combined. Add additional Tablespoons of broth if dough is too dry. Flour work surface. Roll dough to 1/2″ thickness. Cut into desired shape (I used 1.5" stars for Fourth of July).
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (depending upon size). You want them firm but still a little chewy when you take them out of the oven. Cool and store in airtight container.
Source: Delish