Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

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I’ve been saving this recipe for awhile, meaning to post it but somehow never getting around to it. As with many of my recipes, this one was requested by my youngest son.  I have always loved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but because what you visually see is mostly chocolate until you bite into a peanut butter cup, I had always assumed chocolate was the dominant flavor.  Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with a chocolate-dominant cheesecake, but it won’t taste like a Reese’s peanut butter cup.  I have since realized that the dominant flavor of a peanut butter cup is… here it comes… peanut butter!!  It’s also important to use a milk chocolate instead of a bittersweet or dark chocolate.  Lindt makes a beautiful creamy milk chocolate bar that works perfectly in this cheesecake.  This cake takes a little work, but I think it’s worth it.

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Crust Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 Cup shortbread cookies, such as Lorna Doone (or graham crackers or other soft cookies)
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Ganache Layer Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. high quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4  cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Chocolate Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. high quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2  cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-1/2 8-ounce packages regular cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons regular sour cream (at room temperature)

Peanut Butter Filling Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 8-ounce packages regular cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons regular sour cream (at room temperature)

Topping Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. high quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2  cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 12 oz. package miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, lightly chopped into chunks

Directions:

Cover the top side of the removable panel of a 9-inch springform pan with foil. Put it back into the springform and wrap the foil edges up the outside of the pan.   Wrap additional foil as necessary to enclose the outside of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Crumble the cookies by hand into the bowl of a food processor.  Add the nuts, brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Chop until no large chunks remain.  Add the melted butter and pulse until just combined. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan and approximately one inch up the side.  Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300°.  

Set a tea kettle or small pot of water on the stove to boil.  This will be needed for the water bath when the cheesecake is ready to go in the oven.

Chocolate Ganache Layer: Place 2 oz. chopped milk chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until it just begins to boil. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit untouched for about 5 minutes.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour to evenly cover bottom of cheesecake pan and place in freezer for about 30 minutes to harden.

Chocolate Filling: Place chopped milk chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream in a small sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until it just begins to boil. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit untouched for about 5 minutes.  Whisk until smooth and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at low speed until softened. Beat in the flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat in the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, at low to medium speed, stopping to scrape the bowl and beater thoroughly after each egg.  Mix in the chocolate mixture until thoroughly mixed.
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Blend in heavy cream and sour cream. Pour the batter into the crust. Set aside.

Peanut Butter Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese at low speed until softened. Beat in the flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat in the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, at low to medium speed, stopping to scrape the bowl and beater thoroughly after each egg.  Mix in the peanut butter until thoroughly mixed.  Blend in heavy cream and sour cream. Pour the batter into the crust. Do not scrape the bowl or you will have lumps in your cheesecake!

Set the cheesecake in the center of a large roasting pan and pour enough boiling water in the roasting pan to reach a depth of about 1 inch. Bake the cheesecake at 300° until set at the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 55-65 minutes.

Turn off heat and prop oven door open about 2 inches; let cake rest in place for 1 hour.   Remove from oven and allow to cool for another hour.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before making topping.

Peanut Butter Cup Topping: Place chopped milk chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat ½ cup heavy cream in a small sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until it just begins to boil. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit untouched for about 5 minutes.  Whisk until smooth and set aside. Arrange chunks of peanut butter cups to cover top of cheesecake. Pour chocolate mixture over top of cheesecake until entire cake is covered.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Remove from springform and serve.

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