Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake

I didn't think it was possible but there's something that's even more decadent and outrageous than the Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake that I made for Chris' birthday last year.  Last year when he had that cake he told me he wanted me to make that same cake for him for the rest of his life.  But, I went ahead and gave him some alternative options this year just in case he changed his mind.  One look at this cake and he was sold.  We were destined for fatness greatness.

This recipe is based on Cheescake Factory's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake - Chunks of Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups in our Original Cheesecake with Layers of Delicious Fudge Cake and Caramel.  With my change of substituting one of the caramel layers for a peanut butter layer, it's by far one of the best copycat recipes that I have EVER made.  It's seriously spot on and Chris (and his fellow PB loving mom) went to PB chocolate heaven.

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake
Here's the cake all dressed up and ready to go..or so I thought.  When I presented it to the birthday boy, he asked me "Where are the peanut butter cups??  The picture on the recipe showed it having peanut butter cups!"

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake
There, we go.  Peanut butter cups!  Now we're in business and boy does that look rich (and surprisingly a lot like last year's cake from the outside).  But  it's SO MUCH more.  Let's peel back the layers and peek at what lies inside...
Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake Insides
Ohmigoodness there are 9 layers of amazingness to this cake!!!
Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake Naked
And here it is neked...
I'll admit the cake looks intimidating with all its steps and layers but if you set aside a few nights to bake and assemble, people will think you're a kitchen God/dess AND you'll save yourself some $40+.  Plus, the original website has some nice step-by-step pictures to help you along the way if you need extra assistance.

A word of caution: my caramel layers oozed out over time so I wouldn't make it more than 2-3 days in advance.  The cake is literally so heavy that it squishes the liquid layers out!  Ae nother note from experience - I found that while keeping the cake in the freezer helps keep the layers intact it's just too hard to cut.  So, allow it to thaw some in the fridge before serving or, if you don't mind risking some caramel ooze after cutting, just keep it in the fridge full time for minimal wait time before enjoyment :).

Will I be able to top this cake in the future?  I'm always for challenging myself in the kitchen and next year is the big 3-0 for my dear hubby but my waistline sure hopes not!

Happy 29th Birthday, honey!
Two Years Ago: Sausage, Onion, and Green Pepper Fra Diavolo

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves: 15-20 people


For the Crustless Cheesecake
  • 30 mini peanut butter cups, each one quartered
  • 2 sticks (16 tbsp) softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4- 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1- 3 oz. package cook and serve vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the Caramel Layers
  • 1 (4 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 40 caramels
  • Scant 1/2 cup of salted peanut halves 
For the Chocolate Cake
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of coffee - must be hot! 
For the Peanut Butter Layers
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting
  • 13 oz. or 1 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup
For the Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 6 mini peanut butter cups

For the Crustless Cheesecake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two 9" pans with shortening, line the pans with parchment and then grease the parchment.  Lightly flour the pans and tap out excess.  Set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Add cream cheese a little at a time until smooth.  Scrape bowl down and beat again on medium speed, adding eggs one at a time.  Add remaining ingredients except peanut butter cups.  Mix again until smooth.
  3. With a rubber spatula, fold in quartered peanut butter cups.  Divide batter evenly between pans.  You should have 8 cups of batter, so 4 cups in each pan.  Smooth batter with offset spatula and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.  Cheesecake will puff up during baking, then deflate when taken out.
  4. Do not turn out cheesecakes when they are finished baking.  Put them directly in the freezer.  While the cheesecake is freezing, make the caramel layer.
For the Caramel Layers
  1. In a large microwaveable bowl, place 1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, 5 tbsp. butter, and 40 caramels.  Heat at 1 minute intervals until smooth. 
  2. Pour caramel evenly over frozen layers of cheesecakes.  Be careful to not let the caramel drip over the sides.  Sprinkle each layer with 3-4 tbsp. of salted peanut halves.  Return cheesecake layers to freezer until frozen solid.
For the Chocolate Cake and Peanut Butter Layer
  1. Grease 2- 9" pans with shortening and line with parchment.  Grease parchment and lightly flour pan, tapping out excess.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  In a 4 cup glass measure, mix all the wet ingredients except hot coffee! 
  3. Turn mixer on low speed and gradually add wet ingredients to dry.  Stop and scrape down the bowl, making sure to scrape the bottom where dregs tend to gather.  Return mixer to low speed and beat in hot coffee.  Mixture will be very thin.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes (check at 35).  Cake is ready when toothpick tester comes out clean.  Cool slightly in pans.  Run knife around the edge of cakes and turn them out.  Let them rest on a cooling rack.
  5. When cool, level cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler.  Line cake pans with parchment or wax paper, enough to hang over the edges (just like previously with the cheesecake layers).  Return cake layers to parchment lined pans.
  6. Make the peanut butter layer by microwaving it in a bowl for approximately 1 minute.  Pour peanut butter mixture evenly over both chocolate cake layers, sprinkle with 3-4 tbsp. salted peanut halves.  Place peanut butter covered cakes in freezer until peanut butter has hardened a bit (about 15 minutes).
  7. Remove all cake layers from freezer.  Remove all cake layers from pans.  All of the cakes will be stacked with the caramel or peanut butter layer on top.  Stack layers beginning with 1 layer of chocolate cake as the bottom, then cheesecake layer, then chocolate layer, and last cheesecake layer will be on top.  Wrap layers in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.  You'll frost your cake the next day.
For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting
  1. Note: Remove cheesecake layers from freezer and unwrap.  Choose your serving plate and line it with wax paper strips.  Place cake over strips.  Now you're ready to frost.
  2. Put chocolate chips in a medium bowl or 4 cup measure.  Heat cream in a saucepan over medium high heat until very hot but not boiling.  Pour hot cream over chips and stir until smooth.  Remove 2/3 cup chocolate mixture and pour into a small bowl.  Add 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup and stir.  When combined, immediately pour over top of cake, creating a shiny dark topping and taking care that most remains on top of the cake and doesn't spill down the edges.  Return cake, uncovered this time,  to freezer.
  3. Fit stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Pour remaining chocolate ganache into the stand mixer bowl and whip on the highest speed for 5-10 minutes until icing is light and fluffy.  Icing is ready when it is thick and can be pulled into a stiff peak.
  4. Remove cake layers from freezer and frost sides with chocolate ganache using an offset spatula.  The whipped frosting should grab on to the frozen cakes well.  Use all the ganache frosting, evening the cake's surface as you work.
 For the Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish
  1. Cream peanut butter and butter together in stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Whip on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip.  Pipe edges and then 6 large swirls around the top edge of cake.  Garnish each large swirl with a peanut butter cup.
Source: Slightly modified from Sprinkle Bakes

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