Peanut butter + chocolate + cheesecake lovers unite. Immediately.
I’ve made a lot of cheesecakes and what I’m about to say does not diminish my love for any of the past cheesecakes in my life. But people, this creamy, delectable, peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake just might be the best cheesecake I’ve ever made. Strong, seemingly exaggerated words, I know, but truth is truth. Ridiculously delicious, there is no question, no question at all, that this cheesecake is happening at our Thanksgiving spread this year. And that lightly sweet peanut butter whipped cream sitting there on top of that slice? Best stuff ever.
In case my testimonial isn’t enough, listen here. I made this and took it to my Aunt Marilyn’s house to share the love (and the calories); this was before I had even tasted it to verify it as a thumbs up or thumbs down cheesecake experience. Risky, I know. In hindsight, I should have saved my worries for the caramel brownies I made later that week (in which I accidentally stirred the melting caramels with the same spoon I was making lentil chili with – and in case you are wondering, chili powder and oregano and bits of lentils don’t really go well with caramel).
This cheesecake won everyone over (even my Uncle Dan who isn’t a cheesecake-lover, though we still love him for that frailty). So light and sweet, those little chunks of peanut butter cups nestled in the smooth and creamy filling were almost my undoing. Or rather, my kids’ undoing as I tried to spear the morsels from their slices without them noticing. They weren’t amused. And incidentally my lame distraction techniques did not work. Apparently the old “Hey look! There’s a bear over there!” is, like, so last summer and doesn’t work with kids in this generation like it did in mine.
Anyway, just know that I can’t give enough stars for this cheesecake. You know the dreamy part about serving cheesecake, right? It’s a completely make-ahead dessert, in fact it needs to be made ahead of time, which means all those seemingly daunting steps below actually don’t mean a thing because you won’t be doing any of it during crunch time. If you are entertaining (or even if you’re not), cheesecake is a fuss-free way to bring out a rockstar-worthy dessert that will make everyone ooh and awe and exclaim and drool and probably kiss your feet. Just trying to prepare you.
In truth, you could probably nix the water steam bath in the directions since the cheesecake will be covered with ganache to hide any cracks (also remember that overmixing the batter will make a cheesecake prone to cracking).
I haven't tried this cheesecake using natural peanut butter (I use the Skippy brand of creamy peanut butter). Also, if you like a little sweetness to your ganache, consider adding a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar to the cream/chocolate mixture.
- 20-22 Oreo cookies (about 9 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (2.75 ounces) roasted, salted peanuts
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, melted
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (7.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
- 3/4 cup (6.75 ounces) creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 10 regular-sized peanut butter cups (7.5 ounces), chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped baking chocolate)
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (2.25 ounces) creamy peanut butter
- Hot fudge sauce or extra ganache for drizzling
- Chopped peanut butter cups
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Position the oven racks so one is just above the middle position and the other is in the bottom third of the oven. Lightly grease a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan.
- For the crust, add the cookies, brown sugar and peanuts to a blender or food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the butter and blend/process until the mixture is sandy in texture and evenly coated with butter.
- Press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2-inch or so up the sides of the prepared pan.
- Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer (or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer), whip the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, sour cream, peanut butter, and vanilla together until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and mix until just combined (over mixing can cause the cheesecake to crack while baking thanks to all the extra air beat into the filling). Fold in the chopped peanut butter cups with a spoon or spatula.
- Pour the cheesecake filling over the crust and spread evenly. Place a metal 9X13-inch or similar-sized pan on the bottom rack of the oven and pour in 2-3 cups of boiling water. Immediately place the cheesecake on the upper rack and bake for 50-65 minutes until the cheesecake is set around the edges. A slight jiggle in the center of the cheesecake is fine.
- Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open a few inches. Keep the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
- For the ganache, heat the cream until it just starts to simmer (in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove). Off the heat, stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Let sit for a few minutes. Stir to combine until it is silky and smooth. Spread evenly over the cooled cheesecake.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight (up to 24 hours).
- Prepare the peanut butter whipped cream (you can do this a couple hours in advance and refrigerate) by combining all the ingredients in a blender (or in a bowl using a handheld or stand electric mixer). Process or whip until the mixture is thick and creamy and smooth.
- To serve, run a long knife under hot water, wipe dry and cut the cheesecake into slices (repeating the water trick between cuts if you want really clean slices).
- Garnish with the peanut butter whipped cream and the hot fudge sauce and peanut butter cups, if desired.
Recipe Source: inspired by this recipe at food.com (adapted the crust from there and altered this beloved cheesecake for the filling)