Al Dente Dessert: Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse Cheesecake

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FACT: I don’t enjoy baking.

I love cookies. I love cheesecake. I love both of them even more when they are homemade and/or made by me. That said, I do not like the act of baking. Since I first thought about having to make this cheesecake, I’ve been working on why I don’t like it. The best I can come up with is that I hate cleaning up after baking. Cleaning up flour or finding a new corner in the kitchen where the hand mixer flung some cream is not really worth the endorphin rush from the end result.

But, I didn’t really have a choice.

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I got myself into this recipe as part of a work thing. Each year, my office challenges the staff to raise as much money as it can for our annual Walk To End Alzheimer’s. In the past we’ve given out prizes and vacation days as incentives. Two years ago, I shaved my head because we raised $25,000. The 2013 staff challenge was built around the idea of team fundraising. Our day program, and programs and development departments are pitted against one another on a monthly fundraising contest. The team with the most dollars raised per person wins. Next month, the senior staff (of which I am a part) washes car’s of that team. This month, we baked and served homemade desserts.

Our development team cleaned up in the June challenge and chose a handful of recipes for us (as senior managers) to use. I took this one because, well, it looked the easiest. I really don’t like baking pies. The chocolate ice cream bomb looked far too complicated and I think my CEO wanted to make the strawberry shortcake biscuits.

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The recipe itself went together fairly easily, but it was a time consumer. In order for things to gel correctly, everything has to cool and set properly. This means a lot of waiting and/or quick blasts in the cryogenic super freezer in my basement.

WHAT WORKED: The recipe was fine. I deviated slightly by using the freezer and fridge to get things to set quicker.

WHAT DIDN’T: Bittersweet chocolate tastes…bitter. I went semi-sweet for a little less bite.

WHAT DID THE WIFE THE STAFF SAY: Actions and not words spoke here. There was nothing left of it. Five people destroyed a 16-serving cheesecake. They were animals. Savages.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: It might. I have to be honest…I didn’t have to fire up the oven or lug the KitchenAid to the counter. I typically don’t like Taste of Home recipes and would have used Nigella Lawson’s recipe, if I were choosing. But I wasn’t. At the very least, I might make some of the mousse just to eat.

2013-07-22 at 19-16-48Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse Cheesecake
From Taste of Home

CRUST

  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 12-13 whole Oreo cookies)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

MOUSSE

  • 1-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream (OPTIONAL: I used a healthy 2-3 oz. pour of Frangelico in my whipped cream, just for fun.)
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 milk chocolate candy bar (3-1/2 ounces), chopped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

GANACHE

  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

2013-07-22 at 18-42-01In a small bowl, mix wafer crumbs and butter. Press onto bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan.

In another bowl, beat cream and Frangelico (if you use it) until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar. Fold in half of the whipped cream. Spread evenly over crust. Refrigerate while preparing the next layer.

2013-07-22 at 19-12-03Place bittersweet and milk chocolates in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and milk; bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour over chocolate; stir with a whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Spread evenly over peanut butter layer. Freeze 2 hours or until firm.

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For ganache, place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature or until ganache thickens to a spreading consistency, stirring occasionally. Spread over cheesecake. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set. Remove rim from pan.

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