Fabulous Do-Ahead Frozen Peanut Butter Cheesecake
When my very good friend Pam Rys was turning 50, I asked her husband what flavors she might like in a cake. His answer was “she likes chocolate, peanut butter and sweeter is better”! I also happened to know she likes cheesecake and as they are beekeepers, I thought honey should make an appearance. This cake features all those favorites. A dark chocolate cookie crust is topped with a creamy, very peanut buttery filling – with a hint of honey. Serving it frozen adds to the sensory interest, especially when it is topped with the warm semisweet chocolate sauce sweetened with a touch of honey. Chopped honey dry-roasted peanuts are sprinkled on top of each slice right before serving. As with most cheesecakes, this keeps very well and can even be made several days ahead. If you are a peanut butter lover, this should not be missed. Make sure you have room in the freezer for the 9-inch springform pan. The fact that it is freezer and do-ahead friendly makes it perfect for the holidays.
Excerpted from Unforgettable Desserts, by Dédé Wilson. Published by Wiley. Photos by Alexandra Grablewski.
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, such as Ghirardelli or Callebaut (52%)
- 1 tablespoon honey, such as orange blossom or clover
- 1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs, such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; about half a 9-ounce box
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 pounds full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1⅔ cups smooth peanut butter (such as Skippy or Peter Pan; do not use natural)
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- ½ cup honey dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- For the Sauce: Place cream in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and immediately sprinkle chocolate into cream. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The heat of the cream should melt the chocolate. Gently stir in the honey until smooth. If the chocolate is not melting, place over a very low heat, stirring often, until melted, taking care not to scorch chocolate. Refrigerate up to 1 week in an airtight container or frozen up to 1 month. Re-warm in microwave or over very low heat in a saucepan before using.
- For the Crust: Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch round loose-bottomed or springform pan with nonstick spray. Place cookie crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and stir to combine. Press crust evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust for about 12 to 15 minutes or until dry to the touch. Place pan on rack to cool while preparing cheesecake. Turn oven down to 325 degrees F. Once pan is cool enough to handle, wrap bottom of pan in foil to prepare it for water bath.
- For the Cheesecake: Beat cream cheese until creamy with flat paddle on medium-high speed, about 3 minutes. Add peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add the sugars gradually and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each yolk to be absorbed before continuing. Beat in cream until smooth. Scrape cheesecake batter on top of prepared crust and smooth into an even layer. Place foil-wrapped pan in larger pan and add 1-inch of hot water to pan.
- Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes. The top will look and feel dry. The edges should just be starting to come away from the sides of the pan. The entire cake will jiggle slightly when you gently shake the pan. Remove pan from water, unwrap foil and cool completely on rack. Cake may be well wrapped in plastic wrap at this point – still in the pan to protect it – and frozen for up to 1 month. Freeze cake at least overnight.
- For Serving: Have all components ready to go; sauce should be warm. Serve cake frozen. Place cheesecake slices on plates, top with sauce and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.
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