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. :)
Wow. What a last couple of months it has been! I suppose you might be wondering what I have been up to? OK, maybe not, but remember in my last post I mentioned that I was working on a big and exciting project? Now I’m thrilled to be able to tell you more about it.
Since March, my brother and I have been working together to start a magazine devoted to the subject of food photography. I’m super pumped about this. It was a rather quick progression of events, starting with one of my brothers mentioning the idea at lunch one day. I took the idea, played around with it, and then it sort of became a “why not?” situation. It was such a good idea. So after some time on the internet, I approached Landon (my 4th brother and the dude behind most of the photos on here) with a serious proposition to start this magazine thing. Not only did he agree to do it, but to my surprise, he was rather excited about the idea (he’s usually an Eeyore with new ideas).
Long story short, here I am with a deadline to meet and very little time for blogging these days. If you would like to know more about the magazine and its purpose, please visit our website (and PLEASE give us some social media ♥! Though, I have yet to become very active on the social webs yet… one thing at a time, right? ;) – to tide you over until you do though, here is the gist of it: the name of the magazine is Whisk & Camera (“The Art of Food Photography”). It is going to be an online magazine with an option for print-to-order copies published quarterly (3 issues a year). The first issue will be available on August 29th – 9 weeks away!!
We are starting Whisk & Camera primarily because in our current culture that seems to be enamored with food, as well as the photographing, blogging, and Instagramming of food, we truly believe that there is a need for a publication that could help others in their (food) photography endeavors. I know that I, personally, have wished for a magazine geared to food photographers and have been bummed at the lack of one. There are a lot of resources to help people with food photography and photography in general (workshops, countless blog posts, books, etc.), but not one place where a person can find tips and information from multiple food bloggers and photographers… in the same place!
It’s Awesome. So awesome.
So there you have it. I do hope you will visit the website (of which I put a lot of time and effort into… ;P) and I hope even more that you will join us come August!
OK, item No.1 on the list is done, now onto item No.2: these Espresso S’more Bars. These bars have been floating around in my mind for quite some time now.
They are: easy, quick (excluding cooling and chill time, but even then…), tasty, tasty, TASTY! And the oven is hardly needed – 5 minutes of baking time, that’s all. No advanced skills needed for this one, folks. They are a super summer (or any time) treat! I mean, when is graham crackers + ganache + espresso + marshmallowy meringue ever a bad idea? Like, never.
A couple of things to note: I like espresso in my desserts and really liked the idea of espresso combined with s’mores, but, if this combination doesn’t send you delicious thoughts, cut out the coffee granules – no biggie. Secondly, the meringue is technically a Swiss meringue which to me, tastes like marshmallow. I believe I slightly prefer the texture of the Swiss than that of that of a marshmallow meringue, but if you would rather use marshmallow then I recommend this recipe here.
The lowdown: This recipe provides all the delights of s’mores in bar form. A thick graham cracker crust is topped with a lush layer of espresso ganache and then finished with a toasty Swiss meringue. Easy to put together and super delicious, these Espresso S’more Bars will be sure to make your summer extra special!
Filling9 oz (about 1 ½ C.) chocolate, chopped *see note below!!
1 C. heavy cream
1 tbsp. coffee granules (espresso powder would probably work as well)
Meringue3 egg whites
¾ C. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325° f. Line a 8x8 square baking dish with foil or parchment paper.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine.
Press mixture evenly in pan (I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup for even spreading). Bake for 5 minutes, or until crust is firm.
Place pan on a cooling rack and let crust cool completely.
While crust is cooling, make ganache.
For the ganachePlace chopped chocolate and espresso powder in a medium-sized bowl.
Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until almost simmering. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.
Whisk until completely smooth. Cover bowl (I used a kitchen towel) and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour, stirring with a rubber spatula every 15 minutes.
Pour ganache over crust, cover pan and transfer to fridge. Chill for 1 hour, or until ganache is firm.
Make the meringueIn the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure bowl does not touch water).
Whisk until mixture reaches a temperature of 160° f. or until sugar is completely dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch, about 3-5 minutes.
Transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick, glossy, and marshmallow-like in texture – about 5 minutes.
To finishRemove pan from fridge. Pull bars out from pan and carefully slide off of foil and onto desired serving platter. Spread meringue evenly over top of bars. Using a kitchen torch, toast meringue to desired toastiness – serve immediately or return to fridge until ready to serve.
Leftover bars (what are those?) can be stored in fridge.
For the ganache, I used a combination of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate (1 C. chopped bittersweet and 1/2 C. chopped - or chips - semisweet). I highly recommend this combination but you can use whatever type of chocolate you desire! :) For my bittersweet chocolate, I used Trader Joe's 72% cacao dark chocolate - super yummy (super yummy in cookies too)!
For measuring purposes, my measuring cup was a heaping 1 1/2 cups of chocolate, so don't worry too much getting a perfectly even measure.