I love snowstorms for about 24-48 hours. We always have plenty of supplies on hand and never need to rush to the store in a panic. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a good excuse to get cozy and watch movies. Snow is always so beautiful when it first falls. Then the icy cold sets in, dirt covers nature’s artistry, and it becomes a major headache. We got close to 30 inches of snow this past weekend. Jeff and I spent 5 hours today taking turns digging out his car and we still can’t leave. My forearms are killing me. Our street hasn’t been plowed and it could be days. It’s ok, though. We have plenty of provisions. We have power and internet. I made cookies to share with the neighbors who were also digging their cars out. I drank wine and enjoyed leftovers from this chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.
I’m always a big fan of chocolate and peanut butter together. This cheesecake is no exception. I often find cheesecake heavy, so I prefer using a 10-inch springform and making a thinner cake. I also use sour cream to lighten up the texture of filling and make it less dense. If you only have a 9-inch springform pan, that will work fine. Just note that the layers will be thicker than they appear in these photos.
I recommend using a water bath to bake cheesecakes, which was a technique I found intimidating before trying it for the first time. I promise it’s not a big deal. If you don’t have a roasting pan large enough to fit the springform pan, I suggest picking up a large disposable roasting pan from the grocery store. That’s what I use. I think mine cost $5 and it’s perfect.
- 20 whole chocolate graham cracker (10 ounces)
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 ounces (1 cup) sour cream, room temperature
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2½ ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan liberally with softened butter (a 9-inch springform pan will also work but the results will look slightly different from the photos). Wrap the pan with aluminum foil on the bottom and up the sides.
- Break the graham crackers into a food processor. Pulse the machine several times to create crumbs, and then slowly add the melted butter with the food processor running. The mixture should resemble wet sand.
- Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside, and then lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a large bowl and an electric hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and sour cream on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan, using a spatula to even out the top. Place the pan in a large roasting dish. Fill the pan with 1-2 inches of hot water (note: I find the easiest way to do this without creating any spills is to fill a large liquid measuring cup with hot water, place the roasting pan in the oven, and then carefully and quickly add the water right before closing the oven door).
- Bake the cheesecake until the center is almost completely set, approximately 70-80 minutes.
- Carefully remove from the oven. Place on a cooling rack in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or up to overnight. Once the cake is cool, remove the foil from the springform pan. Use a knife or offset spatula to carefully draw between the cheesecake and the pan, dislodging any areas that may have stuck before removing the sides of the springform pan.
- To prepare the ganache, place the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a medium-sized heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Using a heatproof spatula, stir the mixture until melted and smooth. Allow the glaze to cool for 2-3 minutes until it starts to thicken up slightly. Starting at the center and moving outward in a circular motion, pour glaze over the chilled cheesecake, smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Because the chocolate ganache hardens when cold, I think this cake is best served at room temperature.