Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake with Milk Chocolate Sauce

by Andie Mitchell on December 22, 2010

In my mind, there are two types of desserts: those of a simple, classic nature, and those with such an ooey gooey factor that they deserve a siren and a flashing red light bulb. Both are delicious in their own right.

Both keep me up at night.

Traditional cookies like chewy sugar and browned butter chocolate chip, a pure vanilla cake, and squares of dark chocolate fudge, are just lovely by themselves. Just lovely.

They’re sort of the cornerstone to a perfect recipe box. The building blocks to understanding baking.

But many times they are just that: building blocks.  There’s not a dessert I bake that doesn’t make me pause for at least a few minutes to consider ways of nudging it over the top. It’s a practice of self-restraint to let brownies just be brown.

I hear there are right brain and left brain orientations of thinking. But what if one of my hemispheres has dedicated itself entirely to chocolate and extreme exhibitions of decadence?

If there’s a group I can join or a program that may help sober me of things I want to add whipped cream, milk chocolate ganache, and peanut butter drizzles to, then please pass that information along. I can’t quite get a handle on it; I’m excessive by nature. And it’s a part of me that’s evident in all aspects of my life. Even as a child, I’d make a poster or a card and for hours, days even, I’d have to jazz it with sequins and glitter and puffy paint. Doing it and redoing it a hundred times over.

Last year, I began baking for work on How Do You Know, and baked something new every single day for sixty days. Nothing simple, nothing repeated.

This Reese’s cheesecake is representative of my penchant for being over the top. I started with a craving for a Reese’s peanut butter cup, which happens almost daily, so that statement may be understood to be as basic as “I brushed my teeth this morning.” I, however, have not brushed my teeth yet. Please continue to respect me regardless.

So I began rummaging through my brain space for desserts that could easily lend themselves to the flavors of my second favorite candy: milk chocolate and creamy peanut butter. Cheesecake came to mind. And then a roasted peanut and graham cracker fusion crust. And a silky sweet peanut butter filling. And a layer of freshly whipped cream. And chopped peanut butter cups. And a creamy milk chocolate ganache for drizzling, or guzzling, whichever came first.

Sensory overload. Nothing pure and unadulterated about it.

I think you get the picture, and hopefully it’s not a portrait of a cat lady alone in a very unfortunate episode of Hoarders.

Here is how you take a good thing and make it better:

 

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Start by crushing 5 ounces of graham crackers and then combining them 1/2 cup roasted peanuts that you’ve finely ground in a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons sugar and 6 tablespoons of melted butter to them in a large bowl. Stir until all the crumbs are moistened with the butter.

Press them firmly and evenly into the bottom of a greased 9″ springform pan. I don’t own a springform pan so I lined a deep 9″ cake pan with greased aluminum foil, leaving an overhang, so that I could pull the cake out when it finished cooling. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, just so that it can set. Allow the crust to cool while you make the filling.

In a large bowl, beat 4 packages of softened cream cheese with 1 1/4 cups sugar.

Beat in 1 cup of peanut butter, followed by 5 eggs, and then 1/2 cup whipping cream. It’s important not to only beat the cheesecake filling until everything is blended. You don’t want to incorporate too much air into the mixture or you’ll ruin the thick, dense, and satiny texture.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are set but the center jiggles slightly when you shake the pan.

Let the cheesecake cool completely in the pan set on top of a wire rack.

 

While the cheesecake is cooling, make a bowl of fresh whipped cream (recipe below). When the cheesecake is completely cooled, spread the whipped cream evenly over the top and refrigerate for 3 hours. This should let the cream set and harden a bit.

While the cake is in the fridge chilling, make a simple chocolate ganache (recipe below).

Remove the cheesecake from the pan, set it on a serving plate, and sprinkle chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups over the top. Drizzle the cooled ganache over either the whole cake or onto individual slices for prettier presentation.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

makes one 9″ cheesecake

For the crust:

  • 5 oz graham crackers (9 whole crackers)
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely ground in a food processor
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 lbs cream cheese (4, 8 ounce packages), softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (don’t use natural peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

For the whipped cream topping:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the milk chocolate ganache:

  • 7 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For garnish:

  • 3 packages Reese’s peanut butter cups (6 standard-size cups) OR 12 mini peanut butter cups, chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Combine the crushed graham crackers, peanuts, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Stir together until all crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese with sugar.

Beat in peanut butter, followed by eggs, and then whipping cream. It’s important not to only beat the cheesecake filling until everything is blended. You don’t want to incorporate too much air into the mixture or you’ll ruin the thick, dense, and satiny texture.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are set but the center jiggles slightly when you shake the pan.

Let the cheesecake cool completely in the pan set on top of a wire rack.

While the cheesecake is cooling, make a bowl of fresh whipped cream by beating the cream and sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form.

When the cheesecake is completely cooled, spread the whipped cream evenly over the top and refrigerate for 3 hours. This should let the cream set and harden a bit. Remove the cheesecake from the pan, set it on a serving plate, and sprinkle chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups over the top.

While the cake is chilling, make the ganache: Place the chopped milk chocolate and the butter in a medium-sized bowl. Then, in a small, heat-safe bowl, microwave the cream for 1 minute, or until it begins to bubble. Pour it over the chopped chocolate and let the mixture sit for 2 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. Stir until smooth and then let the ganache sit until it cools and thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Drizzle the cooled ganache over either the whole cake or onto individual slices for prettier presentation.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Sagan December 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

I heart you. And cheesecake. And chocolate. And PB. This is the perfect dessert :D

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Heather December 22, 2010 at 9:37 am

i’m pretty sure i just fell in love with you in a totally foodie way :)

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Niki December 22, 2010 at 9:40 am

I cannot possibly agree with you more… adding whipped cream or chocolate or peanut butter to anything makes me happy. I have a peanut butter cheesecake that is so rich and thick, I am madly in love with it and we all know there is no group for that addiction. There should be though. Maybe then I’d finally be able to lose weight. Is it bad that I have a jar of Skippy in my desk?

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

I love that you have a jar of Skippy at your desk. Girl after my own heart…

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ANTONIA February 5, 2012 at 8:39 am

Thanks for the mnetion! For my own sins, I think we can push ourselves to move far beyond ‘poetically informed comics’. Conventions like panels certainly inculcate certain ways of reading (hence, I get what you mean about line-breaks), but these are the expectations as to how they function that need to be rethought. Being aware of their value is important, but one shouldn’t reduce comics to their most basic of components (not saying you do, of course!). I think it is important to remember that lines, shapes, marks create visual rhythms; single letters and words divorced from structure or context bring their own sense of poetics; aesthetics are appropriated, alluded to, or subverted in a bid to make the whole piece say something. The approach that excites me isn’t one of writing a comic about a poem, or writing a poem into a comics format; it’s something far more exciting that recasts what we mean by ‘poem’ or ‘comic’ or ‘visual language’ or ‘rhythm’ until the piece is greater than the sum of its parts.This, at least, is increasingly becoming my take on the comics form. I hope to write a longer post in which these half thought-out ideas might become more cogent. Thanks for posting!

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Amy @ Second City Randomness December 22, 2010 at 9:48 am

I have said over and over how I’m on overload from sugar/chocolate this week. And cannot eat anymore.

But I want this. Right now.

You had me at Reese’s.

And I’m an extremist, too. As in, how over the top can I make this?

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Evan Thomas December 22, 2010 at 9:49 am

I am sick now and no food looks good to me, but I suspect if I had this I’d save a piece for when I’m not sick because it’s everything I love all in one.

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Jess-The SemiAbnormal Gal December 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

holy shit. Can I stay for dessert? I love cheesecake and Reese’s equally. So I think you my have just blown my mind. Can I have a cigarette now? Oh crap, I don’t smoke.

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

Best.comment.ever.

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spabettie December 22, 2010 at 10:27 am

so um, YES I CAN stay for dinner !! :D

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Jessica @ How Sweet December 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Good Lord. Can you deliver this to my doorstep?

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 22, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I almost can’t bear to think of the level of decadence that would occur if I showed up at your doorstep and the kind of baking fusion that would ensue. Stars and moons and worlds would explode.

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Nora@LifeLifeEatRight December 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

This reminds me of “my boyfriend” Adam’s Peanut Butter Fudge Cheesecake at the Cheesecake factory only BETTER!! I am drooling and need a pb chocolate fix quick! Amazing as always! :) Happy holiday!

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Nora! That truly is the best cheesecake on the planet. I still vividly remember the very first time I had it, on my 18th birthday. I thought I had died.

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patridew December 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

“It’s a practice of self-restraint to let brownies just be brown.” It’s your non-restraint that keeps me coming back to read!

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M.J. Jacobsen December 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm

So decadent, but what a way to go! Peanut butter and chocolate is the bomb!!

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itsacupcakeworld December 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I’m lactose intolerant but this looks like its to die for! Even I would risk the stomach ache to try a few bites!

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Can You Stay for Dinner December 23, 2010 at 5:57 am

Thank you!

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suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic] December 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm

That looks absolutely amazing! I looooove Reese’s – peanut butter and chocolate. Yum.

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theprocessofhealing December 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Oh. My. GOD. I think you just created my dream dessert.

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Nicole December 24, 2010 at 4:14 am

Oh wow… I need to plan a movie night with my friends, JUST so I can make this.

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Cindy December 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Merry Christmas Andrea!

you have single handedly put decadent desserts back in my life!

thanks for always such great inspiration and a fun blog to read!
much love
Cindy

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snackgirlgoeshealthy December 29, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Dang girl. Peanut butter + cheesecake.
Imma haev to try this!

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sheila @ Elements January 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm

That looks amazing!!! I’d love to make this sometime! :)

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Martha May 10, 2011 at 8:44 am

I made this for my friend’s birthday party tonight… it’s been hard to just leave it in the fridge until tonight when it is begging to be eaten NOW. But, having sampled the ganache topping, I know that part will be fabulous. Thanks for sharing this recipe!!! I’ll have to let you know how it turned out =)

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Trisha April 15, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Perfect for dessert.

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