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


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)


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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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


  • 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


  • 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.


Products Used

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White Chocolate Chip Lemom Cake Mix Cookies

It’s 42 days until our cruise.

I’m super amped about it. SUPER AMPED!!!!

This will be our first vacation as a family of 4, so I am really excited about that.

We are leaving out of Tampa and are going to Key West and Cozumel. While we have been to both places previously, yet I am still really looking forward to the cruise. We are just going to visit these places with a different focus now, especially having kids now.

Like, we are want to see how Key West is doing post Hurricane Irma – hopefully well! Also, the last time we were in Key West was for our Babymoon with Autumn. So fun, but I need a drink in hand this time, especially from The Rum Bar.

We have had a Royal Caribbean Credit Card for awhile and I just recently noticed that we had some points expire. Unacceptable! So I started to look into cruise that we could take and how I could redeem the points that we have before they died off. I was looking for a really affordable cruise and ending up stumbling across one that had a BOGO 1/2 OFF deal with a Kids Sail Free deal. That means the 4 of us are taking a cruise for the cost of 1 1/2 fares. WIN! And I redeemed a ton of points to cut that price in half. I nearly had a Brandi Chastain moment when I got off the phone after I booked the cruise. AHHHHHHHH!!!!! GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!

Anyway, leading up to the cruise, I should stop eating all the stuff that is brought into my office from vendors (I can resist some chocolate, but toffee from Tampa based Toffee To Go… I WILL NEVER RESIST THAT FOOD FROM THE GODS!!!!!!) and these cookies.

I’m warning you, these are super quick and easy to make, and I swear will disappear just as quickly. Cake Mix cookies for the win!!!!!

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Cake Mix Cookies

Makes 22-24 Cookies


  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 15.25 ounce package of lemon cake mix
  • 2 Cups white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place a non-stick silicone baking mat on a large cookie sheet.
  2. Whisk together the oil and the eggs. Mix in the cake mix.
  3. Once the cake mix is completely moist and lump free, mix in the white chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop 8-12 heaping Tablespoon sized dough balls on to the baking sheet (depending on size of baking sheet)
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just set. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to allow of them to firm up in the center. Remove to continue to cool on a cooling rack.
  6. Repeat for the rest of the cookies.

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Salted Caramel Sauce

We got a car!!!!!

More specifically, my husband picked out a certified pre-owned mini-van. He got it Friday night and now I’m in love with it.

I loved our Rav 4, but it wasn’t going to work out for us long term with 2 kids and 2 dogs. We are active with friends and family so then we can’t travel with any of them. Sure, someone could squeeze between 2 car seats but that’s not too fun. And, what do we do if we want to bring one of the kids friends with us for something? We certainly wouldn’t be able to get 3 carseats/booster seats in the back.

So now we have a Honda Odyssey that has more cup holders in it than I know what to do with. Seriously, that is what I snapped to Amanda when I first got into it. And, of course, my husband is like, enough with the cup holders! Do you actually like it?!?!?” Yes, I love it. It’s so great.

Now I need to find the perfect political bumper stickers to slap on there. And I need a Vineyard Vines’ pink whale on it. Isn’t that just perfect? The preppiest bumper sticker ever with a “Pod Loves America” sticker?! HAHAHA

Anyway… cinnamon rolls!!!!


Guys, I learned something very valuable the first time that I made these… don’t put cinnamon in the dough. At least not the quantity that I put in. Cinnamon is acidic and can retard the yeast from getting its bubble on. It rose well-ish over night, but didn’t do another successful rise when rolled out the dough and made the cinnamon rolls. I baked them up anyway just to taste the flavor, which was good,but the texture was horrible.

So, repeat after me, do not put a lot of cinnamon in the dough.

Okay, so now we that all learned something from my fail, let’s make great Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls!!!

Secondly, in my adventures in making a crap ton of cinnamon rolls this year, do not over work the dough, or roll it out too thinly. It breaks up the bubbles in the dough, so keep that in mind when you are making them. You really want to keep the dough to be at least 1/4″ thick.

The apple cider salt caramel sauce is everything on these cinnamon rolls. EVERYTHING.

If nothing else, just make the caramel sauce and put it on everything. But you really need to take the time to follow the instructions. I make this sauce all the time in the fall and once I was rushing and didn’t make the sauce syrupy enough at first and when I added the rest of the ingredients it was a mess. I was sorta able to  salvage it, but just follow the directions and take your time. It’s soooo worth the time babying it.

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 12 cinnamon rolls*


For the Dough

  • 1 Cup warm milk (100-110 degrees)
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (but not hot!)
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 2 large baking apples- cored and then sliced into 1/8″ thick slices
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 2 Cups apple cider
  • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Add the yeast to the warm milk. Let rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, then slowly mix in the warm milk mixture. Add the butter and just mix to combine.
  3. Add in the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a hook attachment, work the dough until combined.
  4. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough into a smooth ball. Add the dough to a large bowl that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Rotate to cover the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size, at least 1 hour.
  5. Once the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease a 9x 13 baking pan.
  6. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough out so it is approximately 14″ x 24″ x 1/4″ thick
  7. Evenly arrange the apple slices on the dough in rows along the entire length of the dough. Keep the apple slices 1″ back from the edge where the cinnamon rolls are sealed, when rolled. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon.
  8. Roll the long edge towards you and then cut into 12 evenly sized rolls. Arrange the cinnamon rolls in the baking pan.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, prepare your caramel sauce. Using a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat, bring the apple cider to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and slowly cook until cider has reduced from 2 cups to 1/4 Cup. It will be fairly thick and syrupy at this point. Stir occasionally.
  11. Add the sugar, cream, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring continuously. You’ll want it to be syrupy at this point.
  12. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla extract. Add 1/2 teaspoon  the sea salt, mix well. Add more to desired taste. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool.
  13. Serve your warm cinnamon rolls with a healthy drizzling of caramel. (You will likely have to reheat the caramel sauce for drizzling consistency if it cools or you store it for a few days as the caramel thicken as it cools.)

Caramel adapted from Bashful Bao

*I purposefully rolled out my cinnamon rolls to be smaller and more than 12 so that I could share at work. Typically, I would just make 12 cinnamon rolls, as the recipe states.

Buttermilk Chive Biscuits

Lila is a tough critic. But she approved of these biscuits.

Lila is one of my friend’s daughters. She is just about a year and a half old and in the year that I’ve known her I’ve gotten stink eye from this adorable little girl more times than I can count. She is the queen at mean muggin’.

But I think I finally broke through to her!!!!

All thanks to these biscuits!!!!!

Autumn and I made them the day before for our family. She is a fantastic little helper and baker. She helped me measure everything into the bowls. We count out the ingredients as we pour them into the bowls. And we she even learning how to propely scoop the floor into the measuring cup too!

That’s why Kid Chef Bakes: The Kids Cookbook for Aspiring Bakers by Lisa Huff is fantastic new cookbook. It has so many recipes that are kid friendly so they will love what you make with them in it. Kids of all ages will love everything from the cookies to the cupcakes to the bars. 

The book is full of clear instructions and lots of beautiful pictures. I love how informative it is for the kids learning the different processes and techniques used in baking. The book starts with different lessons in learning baking skills. It starts with basics likes measuring and moves on to folding ingredients in, and how to work with dough. All really important, interesting, and fun things for kids to try as they develop their kitchen skills.

(To note: Autumn said she would help me with the biscuits, then decided making biscuits at her sandbox/water-table on our lanai was more fun. We co-baked things. ha!)


Well, back to little miss Lila!

I was helping out my friend by picking Lila and her bigger sister, who is awesome friends with Autumn, up from daycare and giving them dinner while she hustled back from a meeting from work. I managed to get a smile from her while at daycare as I picked her up from her classroom, but the real moment when she let her guard with me when the kids were eating. She saw some leftover biscuits in a container on our counter and she eagerly pointed to them. While it wasn’t what I had planned on feeding her, I figured an extra biscuit wouldn’t hurt!

She gobbled that biscuit right up!!! I got the cutest smile when she was done and the rest of the night as smooth sailing.

I guess you just can’t resist a really great biscuit. I know I can’t.

This foolproof biscuit recipe is from Lisa Huff’s

To note: I didn’t have a 2″ round cookie or biscuit cutter and my cast iron pan was too small. But I made due with what I ha. And guess what… delicious biscuits.

The moral of the story is to adapt to use the size cutter that you have, or use the pan that you have, or even both! Square biscuits? Cool! 2 Smaller pans? Cool! Do the best that you can and just make it work otherwise.

Just don’t let anything come between you and these awesome biscuits. They are a going to be an instant family favorite!

Buttermilk Chive Biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits


  • Butter, for greasing the pan
  • 2 3⁄4 Cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 Tablespoons cold, cubed unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup chopped fresh chives*
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Cups cold buttermilk
  • Flour, for the work surface
  • 3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees . Set the oven rack to the lowest level. Grease a 10 1/2″ cast iron pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chives
  4. Add 1 Cup of buttermilk; stir to loosely combine. Slowly add more buttermilk as necessary until the dough just comes together but is still moist. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will come out dense and dry.
  5. Place the dough on a well floured surface. Gently press the dough into a 1″ thick disk. Cut out the biscuits using the round cutter to form the biscuits. If you need to reform the dough into a 1″ thick disk to cut out more biscuits, do so gently so you don’t overwork the dough.
  6. Place the biscuits next to each other in the prepared pan. Bake on the bottom rack for 12 to 17 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Brush with the melted butter. Cool slightly before serving.


Win a copy of Lisa Huff’s new book

Kid Chef Bakes: The Kids Cookbook for Aspiring Bakers


Leave a comment telling me what you like to make with your kids or what you liked to make with your parents while growing up.

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