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!
Hey, 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?
OK, 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.
That 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.
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?
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.
2 tsp. espresso powder or coffee granules, optional
Spray a 12 cup muffin tin lightly with baking spray (or line with paper liners) and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend together chocolate graham crackers, chopped chocolate, and brown sugar until ground into fine crumbs.
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.
Place about 2 tbsp. of crust into each muffin cup. Using your fingers, press and spread crusts evenly over the bottom of each cup.
Place in freezer while preparing ganache layer.
Place cream in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Remove pan from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate until mixture is completely smooth.
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). ;)
Return to freezer to chill while making cheesecake layer, at least 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325° F.
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.
Mix in sour cream and then the eggs, one at a time.
Beat in vanilla and mix until smooth.
Remove crusts from freezer and divide cheesecake batter evenly between the crusts.
Bake cheesecakes for 25 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch and tops appear dry.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for about 45 minutes then transfer to fridge.
Allow to chill in fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably 3-4+ hours.
Place chocolate chips and espresso powder/coffee granules in a small bowl.
Heat cream in a small microwave safe dish/bowl/cup for about 30 seconds.
Pour over chocolate chips and let sit for about 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
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.
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…
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.
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. :)
Monster Cookie Brownie Bars:Gooey brownies sandwiched between two layers of monster cookie make for a delicious and comforting dessert/snack. Easy and quick to make, you’ll have these bars in your mouth with little effort involved – total. win.
Hi! I’m back.
I must confess that when taking a break from the blog over the holidays (and a little beyond), I didn’t expect to be gone this long! But life gets busy sometimes, you know?
Actually, what happened was the holidays (= busy), preparing for vacation, vacation, and then after that it’s a bit hard to get back in the swing of things.
So here I am near the end of January (which also means the end of most resolutions, right? Or is that Febraury?) with some photos from our time in the Rocky Mountains and… these Monster Cookie Brownie Bars for you to try (like I said, resolutions end in January, right??).
My family stayed in a cabin situated on top of a quiet hill near the Winter Park area of Colorado which featured the most gorgeous views. All in all we had a pretty great time, although nothing compared to the time my niece’s had – it was so fun to watch them experience some firsts in winter activities. :)
OK, so about these bars. These monster cookies have been a family favorite and one of my personal favorites period (thanks, Sally!). So why not combine them with another one of my favorite desserts?
These bars are easy to make and I don’t think I need to say much about the yum factor. I mean, monster cookies + gooey brownies just kind of speaks for itself.
This recipe is easy to put together as the cookies are a one bowl affair and you can use a box mix for the brownies. I don’t usually go in for boxed mixes, but we had one around the house that needed to be used and since the brownies were going to be sandwiched between peanut butter cookie goodness, I used it to make life easier. And really, in this case you couldn’t tell – #winwin. But feel free to make them from scratch too! Either way, they’re going to be soo good.
1 box brownie mix (I used Ghiradelli’s Double Chocolate Brownie mix) or your favorite recipe (see note below!)
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line a 9x13” baking dish with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand-held mixer and large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until combined, about 2-3 minutes.
Add peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla, mixing to combine and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
With the mixer on low speed, mix in baking soda and flour, mixing until just combined.
With a rubber spatula, fold in quick oats, M&Ms, and chocolate chips.
Prepare brownie batter according to recipe directions.
Press half of cookie dough evenly in the bottom of the pan.
Pour brownie batter on top and then crumble remaining cookie dough evenly over brownie batter.
Bake for 47-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs when inserted. Cover the bars with foil if you notice the cookie top getting brown early (you might check around 30-40 min).
Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool almost completely before removing and serving.
Make sure the brownie recipe you use yields a 9x13" pan of brownies.
Classic Scottish Shortbread (aka Great Grandpa Taylor’s Shortbread):Buttery. Crunchy. Classic. So good. This shortbread is all that and more! A family recipe, authentically Scottish, and easy to make, you need this shortbread in your life ASAP. :)
Welp, we’re 2 days away. How do you feel?
I must confess to trying ward off the Christmas blues. And our tree is not helping any. You know what the pathetic thing looks like right now? It looks like Christmas was two months ago. Not only is it droopy, but the branches are so dry and bristle that if a spark were to fly out from the fireplace and hit it, the whole tree would probably burst into flames! I don’t know what we did to it, but it’s been the biggest disappointment of this Christmas season. :(
So not only do I have the stores fighting against keeping the Christmas spirit alive – empty shelves, Christmas items condensed into one space, the arrival of Valentine’s and spring stuff – but our tree as well!
If I could go out and buy a new tree right now I would.
Ok, so last post I talked about favorite Christmas movies and then mentioned that in today’s post we would discuss music – you game? Here ya go:
Favorite Christmas Work:Handel’s “Messiah” (this recording is my favorite)
Favorite Christmas Composers (i.e. composers whose music best imparts the spirit of Christmas):John Rutter, Michael W. Smith, and Alan Silvestri (check out these albums here, here, here, & here)
carols sung by the Choir of King’s College Cambridge (I hear they’re doing a live steam of their 9 Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve – I believe it starts at 10 AM EST)
…and I could go on and on, but I hope you get something from this sampler! What is some of your favorite Christmas music? :)
Since we’re on the subject of favorites, we need to talk about this shortbread. This shortbread is a family favorite and that’s because not only is it a family recipe, but it’s authentically Scottish.
HOW COOL IS THAT??
My mom is part Spanish and part Scottish, so I don’t even need to tell you which side of the family this recipe came from… ;)
I’ve shared this recipe in many forms, but now I’m giving you the original un-altered version. It’s buttery (but not too buttery), easy to make, perfect for gifting, has the perfect amount of crunch, and yum, yummy!
Enjoy, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Cottura felice!
P.S. I’m going to be a little absent from the blog (or at least not posting as much) for the next few weeks to enjoy some baking, family time, and playing travel agent – I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!
2 C. (4 sticks/1 lb) butter softened and cut into 1 tbsp. slices
6 egg yolks
In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar.
With your hands, knead butter into flour mixture until well blended, about 5 minutes. It will be done when dough forms a moist crumb and there are no visible chunks of butter.
Using your hands, mix in egg yolks. Start with three, mix, and form a small ball. If the dough is too dry and falls apart, add another yolk - you should need no more than 6 yolks total. Also keep in mind that this is a very crumbly dough in general, but it should still hold together when you squeeze some together in your hand.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Divide dough into 7 tennis ball-sized balls.
On a floured surface, pat each dough ball into a round ½ in. thick and about 5 ½ in. in diameter. You can also use a rolling pin if needed.
Place cookies on an un-greased baking sheet and you can either bake them whole, press in designs with cookies (however, don’t press all the way through), or cut into 8 little triangles.
Sprinkle with decorator’s sugar, if desired (you might need to press it slightly into the round so that it’ll stick better :).
Bake at 350° F. for 15 min, then turn the temperature down to 300° F. and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until firm and light brown. The shortbread should not be golden brown or they will be overcooked (please don't use my photos for reference as you can see my cookies were, um, slightly overdone...).
Remove from oven and let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
You can also cut out shapes and ice these (like gingerbread), if you desire - just make sure the cookies are completely cool before icing. :)
Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie:This gingerbread skillet cookie if full of spice and chocolate(!). Easy to make and featuring little bites of crystallized ginger inside and extra melty chocolate chips on top, you won’t want to pass on this treat!
I’m in a complete state of writer’s block right now. Like, I’m literally just staring at the computer screen without much going through the brain. To help myself out, why don’t we talk Christmas favorites? So… what movies do you like to watch?
That pretty much covers it – next time we’ll talk music (woot, woot!). What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?
Well, here we are, six days away from Christmas and I have another skillet cookie for you. Skillet cookies are a good way to enjoy cookies without having to make batches of them, which is great if you’re short on time – or even if you’re not! Also good if you don’t want a dozen of temptations lying around… just sayin.
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. They are delicious in their original form (my sister usually makes them every Christmas season), so I thought it would be fun to transform into a skillet version.
Again, skillet cookies need to be eaten warm – this is super tasty with a dollop of whipped cream on top (on each slice that is – that little dollop on top of the whole cookie? Purely for aesthetic purposes…).
Something to note on the recipe is that it yields a thinner skillet cookie. So if you would prefer a thicker one, I would suggest doubling the recipe (or 1 ½ it).