Last week I had a friend give me a great idea for something tasty to bake. Since my favorite candy is Reese’s and my favorite item to bake is cheesecake, it was suggested that I try to make a big Reese’s cheesecake. Always loving a good kitchen challenge, I set out to make this chocolate & peanut butter dream! What I ended up with is nothing like what I expected, but somehow it’s even better. A mistake turned into an experiment, and the experiment turned into something ridiculously yummy! Here’s how I did it…
The idea was to start with an Oreo cookie crust, pour in a layer of chocolate cheesecake, spoon in a glob of peanut butter creamy goodness, and top it off with some more chocolate cheesecake. Sounds kind of like a Reese’s turned intoa cheesecake, doesn’t it? Well, after baking my frist attempt, I realized very quickly that something was off. I believe the biggest of my problems was the high humidity level – June in Virginia is not exactly comfortable weather, particularly when thunder storms were looming overhead. The first attempt was such a failure that I tossed it in the trash after a sad procession toward the trash can. It just wasn’t salvageable – they were just a tad undercooked because I was running late for a lunch date and pulled them out too early, the cheesecake part was too moist due to the humidity, and the peanut butter filling turned into a stiff gel!
Attempt #2 was not exactly a bullseye, but it was tasty enough to have my neighbors “oooh-ing” and “aaaaaah-ing” asking for more! To try to combat the humidity, I added a teaspoon of all-purpose flour to my cheesecake mix (which some chefs would consider cheating, but desperate times call for desperate measures)! The flour also helps prevent cracking when the cake is cooling, which in my case didn’t matter because I still got a couple cracks during the cooling process. Since the peanut butter filling in the first attempt seemed to turn into a gel more than a creamy delight, I decided to ditch the idea of using a filling. Instead, I added a special ingredient (sweetened condensed milk) to my peanut butter mixture, heated it over low heat, and created a sweet, decadent, rich, smooth peanut butter spread. It had the same texture, color and consistency of caramel but tasted like peanut butter! Yummy! After my cheesecake cooled, I spread the peanut butter goo on top and had my new masterpiece! The end product wasn’t perfect because the cheesecake was still a bit too moist for my taste, but when I make this again in the cooler months, it will be perfecto!
1. Save the cheesecake-making for cooler months, or only make it during periods of low humidity levels
2. Sweetened condensed milk is my new best friend
3. Don’t let a mistake get you down, find a way to turn around an attempt-gone-wrong and make it into a yummy new creation
You can make it too! This recipe calls for a 10″ springform pan, but if you only have a 9″ pan, feel free to make a couple mini-cheesecakes in muffin tins with the excess batter.
Cookie Crumb Crust:
15-16 cookies, crushed
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter, press into bottom of pan coated in cooking spray.
4 cream cheese bricks, softened
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 oz sour cream
1 teaspoon of all-purpose flour (optional in times of dire need, helps prevent cracking)
Semi-sweet chocolate, melted (I added 4oz. because that’s what I had on hand, but I would suggest 6-7oz for a more chocolatey result!)
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream the cream cheese and sugar together, gradually beats in eggs one at a time, mix in flour (if using) and chocolate. Fold in vanilla extract and sour cream, making sure to completely combine without overmixing. Pour over cookie crumb crust and bake 55-60 minutes. When finished baking, leave pan in oven with the heat turned off and the door cracked until cake is cooled.
Peanut Butter Topping (aka PB Goo):
1 regular-sized jar of peanut butter (18 oz)
1 & 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 regular-sized can of sweetened condensed milk (10-12 oz)
Splash of regular milk, if needed
Mix together peanut butter and powdered sugar in a medium-sized bowl. If the mixture gets too crumbly, add a splash of regular milk so it’s easier to mix. If the mixture is too gooey, add more powdered sugar. Meanwhile, heat the sweetened condensed milk in a sauce pot over low heat, stirring constantly. When warm, add the peanut butter mixture in batches until thoroughly incorporated. The PB goo will look and feel like caramel. When your cheesecake is completely cooled, top the cake with the PB goo!
Tip: As soon as I spread the PB goo ontop of my cheesecake, I snapped a couple pictures then immediately cut the whole cake, wiping the knife blade clean after each cut. Then I put it back in the fridge for an hour so the PB goo would get slightly hardened into place.