Little Confections

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

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Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes: These cheesecakes are about as good as they come in so small a size. Consisting of four(!) different layers – double chocolate crust, a layer of ganache, peanut butter cheesecake, and topped with an espresso-infused ganache – this is a treat you won’t want to miss!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceHey, February, why do you always take so long to get here? Nothing against you personally January, but you’re kind of a long month.

The rest of the year can fly by just like that, but it seems like time makes up for its yearly absence in January. Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who by the third week just wants to get to February already?

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceOK, now let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. I must confess to this not being one of my favorite holidays and I’m not sure why, it just doesn’t thrill me a whole lot. I mean, even the candy options aren’t good, IMO. Wait, please tell me you measure your holidays by candy too?

Since Valentine’s Day is coming whether I like it or not, I figured I should probably get with the program and offer some treats appropriate for the occasion.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceThat said, I am super excited to share this recipe with you! These cheesecakes are a peanut butter and chocolate lover’s paradise. There’s a lot of palatable goodness packed into such a small size: first, you have the crust which consists of not only chocolate graham crackers, but also chopped chocolate as well! Then there’s the ganache layer – I’m totally drooling right now – followed by the most lovely accompaniment of peanut butter cheesecake and then finished with an espresso-infused ganache topping.

Do I have your attention?

Another thing to love about these Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes is not only the obvious (hello? peanut butter + chocolate x 3??), but they are perfect for VD (gimme one of these and I’ll love you for life) as well as any other time of year. They are also great for gatherings (I hear the Super Bowl is coming up), etc.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Don’t you just love multi-purpose desserts?

If you take a quick glance at the recipe, it may seem a bit daunting. But really the hardest part about this recipe is in the waiting. Trust me, you can make these – I have faith! And when it comes to the waiting? Well, all I can say is hang in there. Perhaps dip some graham crackers into leftover ganache?

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Whatever it takes.

Peanut butter desserts can often lend themselves to being very rich, which usually means smaller portions (not so bad, I suppose). However, while these are indeed rich, they are just the right size making for a pleasurable indulgence but without being overboard.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Cottura Felice!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes
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Ingredients

    Crust
  • 9 chocolate graham cracker sheets
  • 3 oz (½ C.) chopped bittersweet chocolate (or bittersweet choc. chips)
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 4 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • Ganache Layer
  • ½ C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
  • 8 oz (1 ⅓ C.) chopped bittersweet chocolate (or bittersweet choc. chips)
  • Cheesecake Layer
  • 6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ C. peanut butter
  • ¼ C. + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ⅓ C. sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Ganache Topping
  • ¼ C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
  • ¾ C. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or bittersweet)
  • 2 tsp. espresso powder or coffee granules, optional

Instructions

    Crust:
  1. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin lightly with baking spray (or line with paper liners) and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, blend together chocolate graham crackers, chopped chocolate, and brown sugar until ground into fine crumbs.
  3. Pour melted butter in a steady stream and continue to process until the crumbs begin to stick together. You may need to scrape the bowl a couple of times to ensure that the butter gets thoroughly combined.
  4. Place about 2 tbsp. of crust into each muffin cup. Using your fingers, press and spread crusts evenly over the bottom of each cup.
  5. Place in freezer while preparing ganache layer.
  6. Ganache Layer:
  7. Place cream in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  8. Remove pan from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate until mixture is completely smooth.
  9. Remove crusts from freezer and pour about 1 tbsp. of ganache over each crust and spread. You will probably have some ganache leftover - I will leave what becomes of it to your discretion (eating it with a spoon or dipping in graham crackers is totally allowed in my book). ;)
  10. Return to freezer to chill while making cheesecake layer, at least 15 minutes.
  11. Cheesecake Layer:
  12. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  13. In a medium/large sized mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer (or you can use a stand mixer, but I think the handheld might be better in this case), beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and granulated sugar until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
  14. Mix in sour cream and then the eggs, one at a time.
  15. Beat in vanilla and mix until smooth.
  16. Remove crusts from freezer and divide cheesecake batter evenly between the crusts.
  17. Bake cheesecakes for 25 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch and tops appear dry.
  18. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for about 45 minutes then transfer to fridge.
  19. Allow to chill in fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably 3-4+ hours.
  20. Ganache Topping:
  21. Place chocolate chips and espresso powder/coffee granules in a small bowl.
  22. Heat cream in a small microwave safe dish/bowl/cup for about 30 seconds.
  23. Pour over chocolate chips and let sit for about 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
  24. Run a small knife (a grapefruit knife works well, if you have one) around the edges of each cheesecake and transfer to a serving plate or platter.
  25. Top each cheesecake with ganache and gently spread, leaving some room on the sides. I would say use probably no more than 1 tbsp. of ganache on each cheesecake. You may end up with a little extra ganache - I won’t judge if you use the rest of it on your own personal cheesecake…
  26. Place cheesecakes in fridge for about 30 minutes to allow ganache to set (alternately, you can freeze for 15 minutes for speedier ganache setting). Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Notes

You probably noticed in the photos the powdered sugar dusting the cheesecakes? I’m sorry to say I did that purely for photography purposes (shame on me, I know) and wouldn’t recommend actually doing it, as it will seep into the ganache topping. If you do, please dust right before (and I mean right before) serving. :)

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https://sempre-dolce.com/triple-chocolate-peanut-butter-cheesecakes/

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Spiced Marshmallows

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Marshmallows and spice make hot chocolate so nice… sorry, that was extremely corny.

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I have to confess that I’ve given in (and given up). I can’t fight it any longer and will not wait for the cold weather to come to me; if I do, I will sadly be waiting an eternity.

The fall cravings have hit in full force, and it is a terrible thing to be living in Texas when these cravings hit. For cravings of soup and chili, hot chocolate and pumpkin spice lattes, one must be where the air is brisk and leaves are starting their autumnal change. NOT, in a place where you can experience summer, spring, and fall in the span of one week.

Spiced Marshmallows | Sempre Dolce

This is Texas. This is fall in Texas – not ideal, to say the least. However, since this is where I happen to live, I just have to make due. So, from inside my house, the warm wind blowing outside becomes a cool one, and the golden sunshine, which only makes for warmer temperatures, instead becomes a glow of warmth to cut through the cool wind… like I said, I have to make due. This includes food as well: as I hold my cup of hot cocoa or bowl of soup I  have to try and forget the weather outside. As long as I’m inside, it’s fall.

What sort of climate do you live in? Do you live in a place where there’s four seasons, or a place with one season and the other three pop in here in there? Also, do you like your fall on the warm side or more the cool side? (< the latter for me!)

Spiced Marshmallows | Sempre Dolce

I don’t know how the weather is where you live, but I do know that no matter what, it’s time to celebrate the season with appropriate food and drink. On Monday, I posted a recipe for deliciously easy Apple Hand Pies, and now today we’re going to make marshmallows – spiced marshmallows, that is. (I must note here that in a way, this recipe is a prelude to the one I will be posting this upcoming Monday as we will be sticking with the hot chocolate theme.)

Homemade marshamllows. What I love about these little puffs of joy isn’t just the fact that they are 100 x 100 better than store bought. No, what I love most is the melt factor. You place homemade marshmallows on top of hot cocoa and before long you have the most heavenly layer of marshmallow bliss to accompany your every sip, down to the last drop. #yesplease

Spiced Marshmallows | Sempre Dolce

For these marshmallows, we are going to take a blend of spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves) to add a touch of fall goodness and to also add an instant pop of spice to your cup of hot cocoa (or any other beverage you would top with marshmallows).

Spiced Marshmallows | Sempre Dolce

While not one of the quickest things to make (not one of the slowest either, so don’t be scared off!), you won’t regret the time spent, as homemade marshmallows are absolutely worth it. And, unlike other recipes (at least other recipes made for my family), you will have them for hot beverage enjoyment for multiple days – so it’s really all worth it in the end.

Spiced Marshmallows | Sempre Dolce

The Lowdown: These luscious thick and fluffy marshmallows are flavored with a blend of spices to add instant pop to your cup of hot chocolate! 

Spiced Marshmallows
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • Powdered sugar (about 1 C.)
  • 3 1/2 envelopes (2 tbsp. plus 2 1/2 tsp.) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 C. cold water, divided
  • 2 C. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine spices and set aside.
  2. Oil bottom and sides of a 9x13 in. rectangular metal baking pan; dust bottom and sides with some powdered sugar (make sure it's well coated!).
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl), sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 C. cold water; let stand to soften.
  4. In a 3-qt heavy saucepan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, remaining 1/2 C. cold water, and salt over low heat (I actually cooked it over medium-low), stirring with a spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. (Note: if you do not have a thermometer, I suggest using the ball test - see note below.) Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.
  5. With a stand (or handheld) mixer, beat mixture on high speed until it is white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes (if using a hand mixer, about 10 minutes)
  6. In a separate medium-sized bowl using clean beaters (I used my handheld with the little whisk attachment), beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks.
  7. Then, beat the whites, vanilla, and spices into sugar/gelatin mixture until just combined, making sure the spices have been thoroughly mixed in.
  8. Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 C. powdered sugar evenly over the top.
  9. Chill marshmallow in refrigerator, uncovered, for about three hours, or until firm and up to one day.
  10. Once firm, run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of the pan, use your fingers to loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board.
  11. Using a large knife, cut into roughly one-inch cubes (or, to be fun, you can cut out small shapes :).
  12. Sift remaining powdered sugar into the baking pan, and roll marshmallows through it, making sure all 6 sides are covered. Shake off the excess sugar and store in an airtight container for up to one week (or plunk some directly into a steaming cup of hot chocolate).

Notes

If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can tell if it is at the right temperature by dropping some of the sugar mixture into cold water. If it is at the desired temperature (240° F.), it will form thick threads and when rolled between your fingers, will form a ball. The ball should be soft and easily flattened when pressed.

For cutting the marshmallows, the original recipe notes that you can also use an oiled pizza cutter.

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https://sempre-dolce.com/spiced-marshmallows/

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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S’mores Pockets

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Hey there! How’s your day going?

S'mores Pockets | Sempre DolceThere are some things in this world that make life extra special. Puff pastry is one of those things. I love foods that can be done a million and one different ways (like this ice cream) and puff pastry is another one of the foods to come on that list. It’s so versatile.

S'mores Pockets | Sempre DolceI have yet to actually experiment with all of these supposed million ways, (in fact, I’m rather embarrassed to say that one of the only things I think I had ever made with puff pastry have been these Nutella twists – extremely delicious) but I just know there are so many possibilities out there. I bet you know it too, what are some tasty and exciting things that you have done with puff pastry?

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Pumpkin Brownie Cheesecakes

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Why hello there, November – am I glad to see you!

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Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and while I would like to slow the days down to about half the speed, I can’t fight it – it’s now almost a mere two weeks away!! Now I’m depressed.

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18 Comments