Peanut Butter Chocolate Torte

When I bookmarked this recipe years ago, I can recall that Ryan was looking over my shoulder and said I had to make it for him. It took a few years for me to finally spring for a springform pan (pun intended), but I finally made it for his birthday this year, and I was so pleasantly surprised with the results! I am still not sure what makes this a torte and not a cheesecake, because it pretty much seems like a peanut butter cheesecake to me. I think the tiny amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg in the crunch are what put the flavors of this cake over the top for me.

Another reason to like this recipe is that it ended up looking pretty impressive, but it was easy and required no cake decorating skills. Which is good, because I have none. It is a big recipe that ends up as a pretty tall cake. I always think tall cakes look more professional. The nuts on top also look a little decorative, but all you have to do is sprinkle them on while the ganache is still warm.

I didn't do anything special to modify this recipe, but I wanted to blog about it so that I remember exactly how to make it next time. I found the recipe for the torte here, but it is originally by Dorie Greenspan and was published in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Here are my notes: I made this in a 9x3 cheesecake pan with a removable bottom (not actually a springform pan). I used 30 Oreos with the cream removed instead of chocolate wafers, and that worked great. I used Planter's cocktail peanuts, not roasted peanuts, and I loved the consistency of the raw nuts. Planter's are super salty, and I loved the sweet and salty combination. I used instant coffee instead of espresso powder, because that's what I could find. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate for the ganache, but next time I want to try semi-sweet instead.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Torte

For the crust:
30 Oreos with cream removed, crushed into crumbs
1/3 cup (5 tbsp + 1 tsp) melted butter
Pinch of salt

For the crunch:
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg (a few shakes)

For the filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
12 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
2 tbsp whole milk
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts

For the ganache topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter the springform pan. Combine the Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a bowl with a fork. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and sides of the springform pan to form a crust. Freeze for 10 minutes while the oven preheats. Then place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool completely before adding the filling.

In a small bowl, combine all the crunch ingredients together with a fork. Set aside.

Whip the 2 cups of cream until it forms peaks of medium stiffness. Then add 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar and continue to whip until the cream holds peaks of medium to firm stiffness. Keep the whipped cream in the refrigerator while preparing the rest of the filling.

Wipe out your mixer bowl and use if for preparing the rest of the filling. Beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioner's sugar until smooth. Add the peanut butter, milk and peanuts and continue to beat until everything is well combined.

Stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten it. Then stir in the crunch mixture. Finally, fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a spatula, combining everything but working it as little as possible.

Pour the mixture into the crust and smooth out the top. Carefully cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.

To make the ganache topping, melt the bittersweet chocolate (I used a pyrex bowl set over a pot with a few inches of boiling water) and remove it from heat. Bring the cream to a boil and stir it into the melted chocolate until completely combined and smooth. Pour the ganache over the top of the torte and carefully smooth it out to cover the entire top. Before it hardens, sprinkle the remaining peanuts evenly over the top. Once the ganache hardens, you are ready to serve! Keep the torte in the refrigerator until it is time. Slide a skinny knife around the edges of the pan and then remove the  sides of the pan when you are ready to serve. Enjoy!

The yield is supposed to be 8-10 servings but I think this is plenty even for 12. It is a big heavy cake, not the kind of thing you need a big slice of!

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