When I found the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake on the Smitten Kitchen website, I knew that it would be what I made Alex for his birthday. And I did, a little late, in 2014. It turned out beautifully, perfectly, but I never got around to blogging about it. So this year again, I baked for his birthday.
This is a fantastic cheesecake. The chocolate cookie crust was delicious, as was the peanut butter cheesecake, as was the chocolate fudge layer hidden beneath the cheesecake layer. Chocolate ganache covers the entire thing (and hides any cracks or flaws you might have, though mine surprisingly didn't crack). The peanut butter cheesecake was smooth and creamy; it paired perfectly with all the chocolate. Overall this was a dense and rich cheesecake. I needed to cut slices very thin - about as thin as I could with a cheesecake - in order to be able to finish a slice. The only downside was that the crust was a little dense and hard in the corners where the sides met the bottom; that was the case two years ago as well, and I wish I knew how to fix that.
Given the separate layers, I find this an impressive dessert to make. No layer was particularly difficult to make. It took a little time and planning, but I didn't have trouble making it with my toddler watching me (though it helped that she snacked on chocolate animal crackers in the meantime). I had it done in a morning, aside from the ganache on top.
If you love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, this is definitely a dessert for you.
- 9 ounces chocolate wafers or chocolate graham crackers
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped, or 1 cup chocolate chips
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 7 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 13 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
- 16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (2 packages; I used lower-calorie neufchatel, which worked fine)
- 1 ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 4 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
For the crust, place chocolate wafers/graham crackers, 6 ounces chocolate, and ½ brown sugar in the food processor. Blend until finely ground. Drizzle in melted butter and process until the crumbs stick together. Scrape crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch sides. Wrap your fingers with plastic wrap, and gently press crumbs up the side to within ½ inch of the top, and then pat evenly over the bottom of the pan. Chill crust while you prepare the fudge layer.
Heat 1 cup heavy cream in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then add 13 ounces chocolate and remove from heat. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Spread evenly in the crust. Freeze for 30 minutes, until fudge is firm.
Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until well-blended. Add sour cream, then eggs, then vanilla. Mix until smooth, but don't beat in too much air. Pour over the set fudge layer. Bake at 325F for 75-90 minutes (mine took 90), until the center of the cheesecake only moves slightly when gently shaken. Refrigerate cheesecake until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.
Combine ⅓ cup heavy cream and 4 ½ ounces chocolate, either in a heavy saucepan, or in a microwave-safe bowl. On the stove, heat and stir constantly until the chocolate has melted. In the microwave, heat the bowl in 15-second bursts, stirring after each one, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour over chilled cheesecake and spread evenly to edge. Refrigerate until chocolate sets, at least 30 minutes. Serve in small pieces. Cheesecake is still delicious after a week.