Buckeye Brownie Cheesecake

Did you know that March is Peanut Month? 

I swear there is a day/week/month for everything. EVERYTHING.

But I see absolutely no problem with that as you can have a lot of fun celebrating things this month like No Pants Day (May 4th), Meatball Day (March 9th), and International Fragrance Day (March 21st) . Today is Awkward Moments Day.

The only awkward moment you would have related to this awesome Buckeye Cheesecake is that you are going to be caught in the middle of the night, sneaking a bite. So awkward!

I am a sucker for peanut butter desserts so I knew that I needed to make this Buckeye Cheesecake when I saw it in my new copy of Secret Layer Cakes cookbook.

Dini Kodippili is the innovative force behind her blog, The Flavor Bender, and this awesome new cookbook. She is creative with flavor combinations and ways that recipes come together.

In her her second cookbook, Secret Layer Cakes, she created so many incredible recipes that feature mouth watering flavor combinations. The extra fun part is that her cakes have a hidden element to them. This cheesecake doesn’t reveal that it’s a cheesecake until you slice into it. Other cakes, like her Brownie Bottom Irish Cream Cheesecake, French Toast Maple Cheesecake, and Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie Pudding, are all on my to-do list!

 

I was a little intimidated with this Buckeye Cheesecake at first, since I was thinking that it was really complicated and time consuming.

In reality, the process is really simple!!

There are a lot of steps, but they are just broken down so it makes the entire process really clear. But it basically is just this: make brownie layer, make cheesecake layer, let it chill in the fridge over night, cover with ganache, then top with peanut butter glaze, dump some extra delicious peanut butter cups on top. Done!!

 

I’ve made a bunch of cheesecakes in the past so I have to say that, beside it being really delicious, this one is really easy to make.

And I only had one minor crack. Which always feels like a victory, even if you are then covering it up with chocolate ganahce.

So even if you crack your cheesecake, no worries! All that matters is that it is delicious!!

Let’s be real, I am not great at decorating cakes, so the fact that this only required me to cover with ganache and then a peanut butter glaze was another reason for me to love this cake.

And if you feel like making this extra fancy, I’m sure you can come up with some extra special decoration on top or to do something fun with the peanut butter cups, other than mounding them in the center. Whatever floats your boat.

This cheesecake is sinful and delightful all at the same time.

And that is exactly why I called up neighbors and gave them big portions for them to enjoy. Their gain means that I don’t have to gain… in my waist!! ha!!

Buckeye Brownie Cheesecake

Makes one 8-inch cake, 16 slices

Ingredients

Brownie Bottom

  • 4 ounces (115g) bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces (115g) unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces ( 142g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3.3 ounces (94g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces (142g) mini peanut butter cups, cut in half

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

  • 16 ounces (455g) cream cheese, softened
  • 3.5 ounces (100g) sugar
  • 6.3 ounces (180 g) creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons (6g) cornstarch
  • 3/4 Cup ( 177 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Chocolate Ganache

  • 6 ounces (340g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
  • 1/2 Cup (236 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pinch of salt

Peanut Butter Glaze

  • 6.3 ounces (180g) creamy peanut butter
  • 2 ounces (57g) unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces (85g) confectioners’ sugar

To Decorate

  • Mini Peanut Butter Cups, cut in half (optional)

Process

To make the Brownie Bottom

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Butter an 8-inch wide, 3″ tall spring-form pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, dust the sides with flour.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate, butter, and salt in a microwave
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Fold the flour and halved peanut butter cups into the batter, until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.  (At this time begin to prepare the cheesecake layer, see below)
  6. Remove the brownie bottom from the oven, turn the oven down to 300 degrees. Let the brownie layer cook for at least 15 minutes.

To make the Peanut Butter Cheesecake Layer

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat the cheesecake and sugar until creamy and smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom well to make sure you don’t leave any lumps behind.
  2. Add the peanut butter, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium sped until well combined. Scraping down the sides and bottom again will help you avoid lumps.
  3. Fold or manually whisk in the eggs, one at the time. It is very important not to over mix at this point. The eggs should be just incorporated.
  4. Cut 2 pieces of foil that are at least 12″ long, lay out in a cross shape. Place the pan in the center of the cross and fold up the foil, creating a tight fit around the pan.
  5. Place the pan in a 9 x 13 pan.
  6. Pour the cheesecake batter over the cooled brownie layer. Pour hot water (hot tap water works), around the cheesecake so that it is halfway up the sides of the spring form pan.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the cheesecake is set but still slightly jiggly in the middle when you gently shake it.
  8. Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar, let the cheesecake cool for 15-30 minutes, while still in the oven.
  9. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath, let cool to room temperature completely. This can take up to 4 hours, depending on ambient room temperature.
  10. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the pan by running your knife along the sides. Open the spring and carefully pulling the open form up, away from the cheesecake.
  11. Place the cheesecake on a plate and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, or over night.

To Make the Chocolate Ganache

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and heavy cream, and salt together in 30-second intervals, stirring between the intervals, until it is completely melted.
  2. Let cool to a spreadable consistency.

To Make the Peanut Butter Glaze

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, melt the peanut butter, butter, and salt together in 30-second intervals, stirring between the intervals.
  2. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl, mix well.
  3. Let cool to a spreadable consistency.

To Decorate

  1. Using an offset spatula, lift the cheesecake off the bottom pan. Pick the cheesecake up and carefully remove the parchment paper on the bottom. Place back on the bottom, or directly on a serving plate.
  2. Pour half of the ganache on the center of the cheesecake, using the offset spatula, move the ganache to the edge of the cheesecake and let it side down the sides.  Using the offset spatula, spread the  ganache around the sides. Add the rest of the ganache and completely cover the cake.
  3. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  4. Spread the peanut butter glaze on the top and then decorate the top with the peanut butter cups.

Recipe is adapted from Secret Layer Cakes: Hidden Fillings and Flavors that Elevate Your Desserts

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Today’s high is predicted to match a record high temp of 87 degrees.

I no longer have any concept of winter.

There were a few weeks when we had cold temps in the 40’s and 50’s but it wasn’t too bad. And there were just a few days when temps just dipped below freezing. Unfortunately it wrecked some of our plants but overall our plants fared pretty well when some neighbors lost everything.

Besides that cold spell, things have been comfortable and enjoy able.

Recently, temps have gotten high enough again where we can use the splash pad without feeling too cold as the water dries off of us.

Today we are going to the pool. Woohoo!!!!!!!!

I no longer have a real concept of winter. I keep seeing people post pictures of snow, fires, talking about eating cozy foods like stew and soup so they can enjoy a warm, comforting meal after shoveling and I’m like “WHAT?!?! My windows are open now and I’m tempted to close them to put on the AC!”

So, this recipe is perfect for my cold weathered friends as it’s a hot chocolate base, but perfectly refreshing for us who are spending our days by the pool.

 

I love hot chocolate!

It’s indulgent and comforting. It feels like luxury in a mug.

I don’t do simple packets of hot chocolate mix, I make hot chocolate from scratch or I doctor up my favorite hot chocolate to make them extra sinful.

My favorite hot chocolate is the Mexican Hot Chocolate that you make with tablets. Sorta spicy, sorta smokey and extra delicious.

This ice cream is smooth, creamy, and really chocolaty with the nicest hint of spice and heat to it as you start making it with the hot chocolate tablets. You’ll never just want a regular bowl of chocolate ice cream again after this ice cream.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes approximately 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 2 Mexican Hot Chocolate Tablets, Abuelita Brand
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Cups heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Process

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the hot chocolate tablets in the milk. Whisk until completely melted. Add the cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat until the cocoa powder is evenly mixed in. Add the heavy cream. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy in texture.
  3. Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding 1/4 Cup amounts, until about 1/3 of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder of the mixture to the bowl. Mix well and then return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, reaching 170 to 175 degrees F.
  5. Strain the mixture in a fine mesh sieve into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in the vanilla extract and pinch of salt.
  7. Place the uncovered mixture into the refrigerator. Once it is cool enough not to form condensation on a lid/plastic wrap, cover and store for 4 to 8 hours or until the temperature reaches 40 degrees F or below.
  8. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes.
  9. Remove the ice cream to a storage container. Freeze for another 3 to 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden.

Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?

I’m so hooked.

I honestly skipped watching the opening ceremony since I was so exhausted, that I crashed and went to bed. Seriously, I was in bed before 9pm on a Friday. So lame, but I was so tired!

Plus, I was kinda tipsy from a super strong mojito that I whipped up after a long week. I just had to make it! I had to make up for the fact that the one I was enjoying while we were in Key West 2 weeks ago was kicked over by my little miss Autumn. Kids really do make you drink!

Anyway, I have been watching the Winter Olympics when ever possible since then. They are so awesome. The half pipe runs, the luge, the group figure skating. OMG! It’s all so perfect.

Also, perfect, is this candy bark!

You know you wanna make a batch for your special someone for Valentine’s Day. It’s also great for sharing. Or eating in your PJ’s while you watch fit, trim athletes hurl themselves down an icy hill in freezing temps. Yeah…

 

My 2 tips for making awesome bark…

Do not make the base chocolate layer too thin. Keep it pretty thick, at least 1/4″. It does a better job of holding it’s shape and not getting bendy. It’s weird if you make it too thin. Learn from my mistakes!

And, if you share this with others, be sure to let them know of any potential allergens. I am really cautious about that, and so should you!

Other than that, super simple.

Valentine's Day Candy Bark_03

I dare ya that you can’t just have 1 piece of this candy bark. It’s so addicting.

Valentine's Day Candy Bark_04

Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 10 ounces candy bars/pieces
  • sprinkles
  • 3 oz of white chocolate, use a high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)
 Process
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  2. Chop all candy pieces into irregular pieces, this is easiest with a serrated knife.
  3. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate over low heat. Once the chocolate starts to melt, continuously stir until just melted through.
  4. Pour the chocolate onto lined pan. Spread the chocolate evenly with a 1/4-inch thickness (about 12×10-inch rectangle). Sprinkle with the chopped candy pieces and sprinkles.
  5. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over bark creating zig zag lines.
  6. Chill bark until firm, about 30 minutes. Remove foil from pan, peel off foil, and break/cut bark into irregular pieces.

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Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

Valentine’s Day is just 1 week away!!

Are you celebrating with someone you love?

Or are you single and ready to mingle?

Or do you fall in between like me and my husband… certainly not single but not really doing anything? Hello… it’s a Wednesday night and we have 2 kids. Too much to juggle.

But, no juggling required when it comes to these cake pops.

Baking a box mix cake is pretty dang easy, so it mixing in the frosting, and then forming the balls. The most complicated part is dipping them into the Candiquick, which is a confectionery coating, or melted chocolate that sets pretty quickly. And, even then, the only hard part about that is the messy drips. That’s a silly complication. Like a #firstworldproblem issue. ha!

 

 

 

While they have cake pop molds for you to bake the cake in, then coat. We decided to get our hands messy and dive right into rolling the cake with the frosting to create the cake balls for the pops.

Autumn loved helping out. She scooped out the cake and rolled the balls, proudly placing them on the tray as she went. We then brought some over to a friend’s party and she told EVERYONE that she made them. So cute.

They are very easy to make- even a 4 year old can make them!

Be sure to enjoy these with someone that you love. Or eat them all. Whatever works for ya. ha!!

Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

Makes 30 Cake Pops

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Cake Mix and required cake mix ingredients
  • 1/2 – 2/3 Can of Red or Pink Frosting
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 pound of Candiquick or chocolate
  • 30 treat sticks, 4″ long
  • sprinkles

Process

  • Bake the cake according to directions in a 9×13 pan. Let cool completely.
  • Trim away the edges of the cake. Discard (into your mouth!)
  • Cut the cake into small pieces, put into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat until crumbly.
  • Add HALF the can of frosting to the crumbly cake. Beat again. Add a tiny bit more to get a moist, dough like texture that will form a ball. Do not make it too wet and tacky.
  • Dust your hands with powdered sugar. Form 30 equally sized balls.  Suggestion: Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 3 equally sized portions. From each portion, create 5 balls.
  • Insert a lollipop stick into each ball.
  • Freeze all of the cake pops for at lest 30 minutes.
  • Melt the Candiquick or chocolate. Pour into a tall cup. Quickly dip each cake pop into the candiquick/chocolate, let excess chocolate drip off. Then set onto a non-stick silicon lined baking sheet. Immediately drop sprinkles on to the coating before it sets.
  • Store at room temperature.

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Instant Pot Crack Chicken

We are going on our cruise tomorrow!!!!!!!

I am ridiculously excited. I’ve researched the ship and ports we are going to, I’ve joined FB groups to get get tips, and I’ve made lists, and I’ve packed and packed again. And I know I will still forget something! ha!

I think that is just the way it is when you are traveling, especially when you are traveling with kids. You can never pack enough when you have kids.

 

In order to help clear out our fridge before being gone for almost a week, I made Crack Chicken in our Instant Pot yesterday.

It lives up to it’s name. I’m addicted to to this dang chicken. I’ve made it far too often since getting the Instant Pot. I only “complain” about that as it’s not the lightest of dishes… hello cream cheese, cheddar cheese,  and bacon.

But it’s worth it. I swear.

You can easily double this recipe, which is great for when you need to feed a crowd. It’s great for a pot luck or for a party… think Super Bowl!!! (Fly Eagles Fly!!!)

Talk to ya when we’re back from the cruise. In the mean time, enjoy some addicting chicken!

Instant Pot Crack Chicken

Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into 1/4″ wide pieces
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning
  • 8 oz cream cheese, can use light cream cheese too
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper

Process

  1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate, set aside.
  2. In the pot of a pressure cooker, add the chicken, then cream cheese, and then  the packet of ranch seasoning over the top.
  3. Add the water.
  4. Place your Instant Pot on Manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Do a quick release. Turn to the keep warm setting.
  5. Shred the chicken in the pot using forks.
  6. Add the cheese and bacon, stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve as a sandwich, dip, over rice or noodles.

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