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peanut butter cheesecake

Yesterday we got to meet Oliver the pig. He’s the mascot for Hedley & Bennett, a local company known worldwide for their stylish handmade aprons. His owner Ellen was co-hosting a Southern-themed Sunday brunch at her house along with the folks from Bake From Scratch Magazine, and we were two of the lucky attendees. Tucked away in the steep hills of Echo park, this colorful and artistic home has breathtaking views of the city. Lush gardens filled with native plants and purple sages surround the property which is also home to a half dozen chickens as well as our new friend, Oliver. Apparently he was misbehaving before we arrived, so he spent most of the afternoon in a “time out” behind a wooden gate atoning for his sins. But after a welcoming Southern brunch featuring Rebecca’s homemade melt-in-your-mouth Meyer lemon scones, Brian’s brown butter hummingbird coffee cake, Gaby’s beer bread, and a live demonstration from Callie’s Biscuits on how to make authentically Southern buttermilk biscuits, we took a peek behind the gate and introduced ourselves to the peppy pig before saying our goodbyes. It was hard to leave of course, but we had some important business to attend to at home. And by “business” we mean peanut butter cheesecake.

If you like chocolate and peanut butter, allow us to introduce you to your soulmate. This decadent recipe from Linda Lomelino’s stunning new cookbook My Sweet Kitchen has captured our hearts. With tempting recipes like malted milk brownies, apple and strawberry pie with cardamom, and hazelnut cake with espresso and nutella, plus chapters on how to decorate, photograph, and style your creations, this beautiful cookbook is a must-have for anyone who loves sweets and wants to learn how to take something ordinary and turn it into a jaw-dropping masterpiece. It didn’t take long to decide which dessert to make first: since chocolate and peanut butter is our patronus, this recipe was calling our names. Resting on a crispy crust made with crushed oreos and roasted salted peanuts, the ultra-creamy peanut-buttery filling is rich, velvety, and irresistibly smooth. Topped with a silky peanut butter chocolate ganache, and garnished with roasted peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups, each layer is pure chocolate peanut butter deliciousness.

You are three easy steps from enjoying a homemade cheesecake. First you make the crust which literally takes 30 seconds. You just combine cookies and peanuts in the blender, mix it with melted butter and that’s it. Then you make the peanut butter filling by simply blending everything in one bowl and baking until puffed and golden. And to make the ganache, a simmering mixture of cream and peanut butter is poured over chopped chocolate, forming a fudgy frosting to spread on top. Cover with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and your life will be complete. And since this dessert is served cold, it’s the ideal make-ahead treat to keep in the fridge until the right moment arrives. And by “the right moment” we mean right now.

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake
adapted from My Sweet Kitchen by Linda Lomelino
serves 10 to 12

For the crust:
5 1/4oz (150g) chocolate sandwich cookies (about 12 cookies)
3 1/2oz (100g) roasted salted peanuts
2 tablespoons (28g) salted butter, melted

For the peanut butter cheesecake filling:
24 ounces (680g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (270g) creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup (142g) packed brown sugar (or muscovado sugar)
2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (177ml) whipping cream

For the peanut butter chocolate ganache:
5 1/4 ounces (150g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup (158ml) whipping cream
1/4 cup (68g) creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons(28g) salted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (85g) sour cream, at room temperature

For garnish:
1 ounce (28g) roasted salted peanuts, chopped
6 large peanut butter cups, chopped OR 2 ounces (57g) milk chocolate, chopped

Make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, and set aside.

Combine the cookies and peanuts in a food processor, and pulse until the mixture forms fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan, and use the back of a spoon to press it into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Make the cheesecake:
Lower the oven temperature to 300°F/149°C. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and peanut butter and beat until blended and smooth. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, beating well between each addition. Finally, add the cream and beat until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared crust, then place the pan on the baking sheet and bake until the edges of the filling are set but the center is still wobbly, 55 to 70 minutes. Turn the oven off, leave the door ajar, and let the cake cool in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely. When cool, transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make the peanut butter chocolate ganache:
When the cheesecake is completely chilled, place the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, peanut butter, and butter over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Pour the hot mixture over the chopped chocolate, and let it sit for 30 seconds. Whisk the mixture until it is smooth and glossy, then whisk in the sour cream until evenly blended. Let the mixture cool briefly until it is a spreadable consistency. Remove the sides of the springform pan, and spread the ganache over the top of the cheesecake, letting it drip down the sides decoratively. Sprinkle the top with chopped peanuts and peanut butter cups, then either serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!

notes:
— For best results, use a peanut butter that does not need to be stirred. With natural peanut butters, the oil can separate, affecting the texture of the cake.
— To make this recipe gluten-free, simply use gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies to make the crust.