Today is the 1st Anniversary of my very first post at Makinglifedelicious.com!
You may have noticed that my posts have been a little further between as of late. The fact is that the kids are home from school, I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen and I have to squeeze myself into a bathing suit several times a week. All that has conspired to make me less inclined to cook.
But I can’t let my anniversary go by without something big to celebrate and very recently I had the perfect excuse to create something over-the-top!
This crazy delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake is six inches tall with no less than 10 layers of decadence covered with rich chocolate ganache frosting.
This dessert was developed by me and my friend Jason in celebration of his wife’s 40th Birthday. My friend Lita’s love of peanut butter and chocolate is well documented, so that was our starting point.
Our further inspiration came from two places. First, and I almost hate to say it, but The Cheesecake Factory. Second, I found that I was not the first blogger to be inspired by this incredibly rich and possibly evil cake. Sprinkle Bakes had attempted it back in March.
I loved the look and the bravado of the Sprinkle Bakes cake (her photos are much better than mine), but I wanted to do something that was even closer to, and dare I say better than, the original Cheesecake Factory cake. I also needed to eliminate all traces of corn from the recipe because Lita is allergic.
So this is what I did. I took Sprinkle Bakes as a framework, but then used a different chocolate cake, one that I felt would hold up to cold. [BTW, Turns out this chocolate cake recipe is my absolute new favorite! I think this cake will be making appearances in layer cakes for years to come.] I also switched out the caramel used for my homemade version and added two layers of peanut butter frosting on the interior [because more frosting is almost always better, right? ;)]. Lastly, I changed the ganache frosting to one that didn’t contain corn syrup and used a different ratio of chocolate to cream.
So basically, I made the same cake, but I changed everything.
And I’ll tell you that as crazy as this cake sounds…it is that crazy good!
Don’t be intimidated. Each step is pretty simple and if you break it up over a couple of days, you will be surprised how easy it is. In fact, I recommend you start the day before you want to serve.
So ready? Let’s go…
Crustless Cheesecake Layers
Adapted from Bon Appetit
- 40 mini peanut butter cups, each one quartered (I used the Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups because they are corn-free, but if you want to be really Martha, you can make your own peanut butter cups.)
- four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- shortening for pans
- 1 recipe caramel sauce
- 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 2 cups peanut butter (not natural or old-fashioned)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of kosher salt
- 7 mini peanut butter cups
Chocolate Cake Layers
Adapted from Bon Appetit
- shortening for greasing pans
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup hot coffee, strong
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
- 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (yep, 16 oz. biatch!)
- 2 cups heavy cream
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE LAYERS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two nine-inch pans with shortening, line the bottom and sides of the pans with parchment and then grease the parchment. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in large bowl until very smooth. Beat in flour. Add eggs and beat just until blended, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in the quartered peanut butter cups. Pour batter evenly into the pans.
Bake cheesecake until outer 2-inch edge of cake is puffed and slightly cracked, center is just set and top is brown in spots, about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack. Cool to room temperature, then wrap the pans still containing the cheesecake with plastic and freeze solid (overnight is good).
MAKE THE CARAMEL FOR CHEESECAKES
Make a batch of caramel using my caramel sauce technique. Let it cool to room temperature and then place in a sealed container and refrigerate until Day 2.
See? That wasn’t so hard. Now pour yourself a glass of wine and relax. Your work is done until tomorrow.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with shortening. Line bottom of pan with a parchment paper round. Grease parchment paper with shortening. Dust pan with flour, tapping out any excess. Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk cocoa in another medium bowl. Pour 1 cup hot coffee over cocoa. Whisk to blend.
See how it looks really creamy and yummy when it is, in fact, incredibly bitter…have fun tricking your kids, or is that cruel?
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add oil to egg mixture and beat until blended. Beat in cocoa mixture. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Beat to blend. Add dry ingredients and beat on low just to blend. Transfer batter to prepared pans, smooth top.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool cake for ten minutes in the pans then turn out onto a rack to cool to room temperature on a rack.
MAKE THE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING
Beat together the peanut butter and room temperature unsalted butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, heavy cream and salt and beat until creamy and light.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
1. Cover each of the frozen cheesecakes with 1/4-1/2 cup of the caramel (you may need to heat it a little to make it easily spreadable) then sprinkle with peanuts. The sides of the cheesecake kept the caramel in quite nicely.
2. Place the caramel and peanut covered cheesecakes back in the freezer.
3. Put a dollop of peanut butter frosting on your plate (that acts like glue) and cover the edges with wax paper. Later you will be placing the cake on the platter in such a way that all the edges have wax paper underneath. This little trick allows you to frost the cake and then pull away the wax paper to reveal a clean edge. Neat huh?
4. If your cake has a significant dome on top, I would recommend sawing off the bulge. Once that is done, place the first layer of cake on the dollop of frosting and spread 1 cup of peanut butter frosting on the cake leaving approximately 1/2 an inch of space on the edge.
5. Top that with one of the cheesecakes covered in caramel and sprinkled with peanuts. I cut off the top edge of the cheesecake so that the next layer of cake would lie flat.
6. Cover with the remaining chocolate cake and frost that with another cup of peanut butter frosting. Damn! Doesn’t that sound good?
7. Cover that with the remaining cheesecake covered with caramel and peanuts.
8. Gently heat 3/4 cup of the ganache till pouring consistency. Do this on low power in short bursts in the microwave. Take care not to let it boil. Boiling bad.
9. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake. The lip of the cheesecake should help keep it in place, but if a little drips down the side, it isn’t the end of the world.
10. Put the cake in freezer 15 minutes to allow the ganache to firm up on the cake and to allow the remaining ganache to cool to just above room temperature.
11. Frost sides of cake with remaining just cooler than room temperature ganache.
12. Drizzle with caramel.
13. Pipe swirls of peanut butter frosting on the top and top those with mini peanut butter cups.
Store in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge as well. This cake also freezes exceptionally well, but leave a lot of time (like 24 hours) for it to properly defrost in the fridge before serving.