At the restaurant we dined in for a recent family gathering, we were surrounded by a sea of cakes floating from one table to another.
Apparently, we weren’t the only table with a reason to celebrate.
By the end of our meal, my family was in anticipation for the unveiling.
I think my lil’ cake stood up for itself quite well. With a come hither look that drew passerbys to stop and stare, this cake was quite the looker.
With a lush creamy peanut butter filling, on an Oreo cookie crumb bed, smothered in chocolate ganache and crowned with peanut brittle, all you need is a warm glass of milk to chase it down with.
There’s body to this torte but it isn’t over the top, run- for- the- hills rich.
Rather, you can come back for another bite, each forkful better than the last- eating in a euphoric trance, until suddenly and inevitably, you look down and realize that all you have left is a trail of dark crumbs on your plate.
Make this now and you won’t be sorry.
This recipe is from who else? Dorie Greenspan– one of my many baking heroes. As per usual, my suggestions and comments are in italics.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Torte
For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs (cookies wafers and filling. The creamy centres help to bind the crust and act as a replacement for any other sugars)
4 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 (I used Ghirardelli)
2 tsp. granulated 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 (I recommend Philadelphia cream cheese bricks, not the spread in tubs)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not all natural with just peanuts) (I used MaraNatha crunch peanut butter)
2 tbsp. whole milk
For the topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt)
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan (I also lined it with parchment for good measure) 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 an even layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes (it took me 14 minutes, since I like my crust thicker and used more crumbs), 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. (keep it away from foods with strong odours)
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.
(the best way to cut this bad boy is to get a large pitcher of piping hot water and a sharp knife. Leave the knife in the hot water for 30 seconds and wipe the excess water off with a small towel. In one swift motion, glide the sharp blade into the cake. This will ensure you have nice clean cake slices.)
If desired, you can make a faux peanut brittle like I did.. it’s more like a praline crunch because there’s no butter or corn syrup, but tastes just as wonderful. The recipe is adapted from Epicurious.com
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups salted peanuts
Sea Salt (optional)
Line baking sheet with foil (or use a silicone baking sheet such as Silpat if you have one). Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber, swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush occasionally. Mix in nuts. Pour onto foil; sprinkle with sea salt (I used Himalayan Pink Sea Salt), and cool. Peel foil off brittle and break into pieces. Peanut Brittle can be made 1 day ahead; store airtight at room temperature.