Occasionally you find that recipe that you think you must make someday, but the somewhat dangerous ingredient list keeps putting you off. Dorie Greenspan has a recipe for a Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte in her cookbook Baking from My Home to Yours that I've been longing to try but with an ingredient list that included cream cheese, PB and heavy cream, this was definitely a "wait for a special occasion" type recipe. I earmarked it for Dad's b-day and then recipe sat on the back burner for a good 6 months. Dad's b-day finally arrived--about time. People need chocolate peanut butter tortes.
As you know, I take no issue with substituting ingredients and mixing recipes up a bit. But Dorie, bless her heart, threw me for a loop when she specifically called out that the PB could not be natural. I seriously considered giving natural PB a go since it was all I had at home, but in the end, I figured if she called it out for a reason, I should probably listen. I envisioned peanut oil separating in the torte and headed out to the store.
Here's a bit of a secret confession about peanut butter....I so prefer the super sugary, mass produced Jif to natural PB any day. I'll even take the confession a step further here--throw in some white bread and raspberry jelly and I have some happy comfort food. PB&J is the one sandwich in my mind that requires that super soft white sandwich bread. And cut the crusts right off please. I'm in 5 year old heaven all over again. Not sure why I made a torte when I really could have just made PB&Js apparently.
Back to the torte. Not going to lie to you here--the torte prep is a bit scary at times. Like when you mix the cream cheese and PB. Will this glob ever be a light fluffy torte?
Or those moments when you are carefully folding in the whipped cream. I'm always convinced I will overstir at this point and deflate all of the cream.
But alas, success. And the result? Wow, was this rich. As in, take a tiny sliver rich. The flavors were as wonderful as chocolate and pb are, but you could really be done after only 3 bites. But then an interesting thing happened. Because it was so rich and we all ate such small pieces, I had some left over which I carelessly threw into the freezer. Magic really. Straight from the freezer, this becomes seemingly less rich and more like ice cream cake. Makes sense really since you have the same basic ingredients of ice cream here. And chocolate pb ice cream cake is not to shabby at all.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte
from Baking from My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
For the crunch:
1 1/4 cups salted peanuts, finely chopped, divided (for the filling, crunch and topping)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. espresso powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
2 tbsp. whole milk
For the topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.
To make the crunch, in another small bowl combine 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and set aside.
To prepare the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. Bring the 1/2 cup of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.