Stop what you are doing and make this cheesecake.
I was trolling for a Valentine's Day treat for my special guy and found Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake. I have made other recipes from Deb's blog Smitten Kitchen and they never disappoint. This cheesecake does have a few extra steps, but they can be done at different times and are very easy. Ron loves peanut butter and chocolate, and I knew this was the perfect treat for us. The only modification I made was to use chocolate graham crackers over wafers (and left out the brown sugar) because my store did not carry the chocolate variety. The graham crackers worked very well and the texture of the crust was very good. I also used a 10-inch springform because I do not have a 9-inch springform. I couldn't get the crust quite high enough, but it worked out fine. The original recipe also gives instructions for a water bath or non-water bath baking method. I did not do a water bath and the cheesecake turned out lovely and was evenly baked.
The cake is very rich (thank you thick fudge layer) and sinfully delicious. Despite is simplicity it is very impressive looking and looks like a big peanut butter cup! Ron and I have been enjoying this for a few days and brought a few slices to my in-laws as a thank you for watching Kellen overnight for out volleyball game tonight. Thank goodness for physical activity after a snow storm and a few slices of this bad boy!
9 ounces (16 sleeves) chocolate graham crackers
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still hot
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
13 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup sour cream
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅓ cup heavy or whipping cream
4 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
Make chocolate crust: In a food processor, blend cookies and chocolate together until finely ground. If you do not have a food processor you can do this by hand, but chop the chocolate finely with a knife. Drizzle in melted butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down the bowl if needed. Transfer crumbs to springform. Wrap fingers with plastic wrap and press crumb mixture up sides to within ½ inch of top, then evenly over bottom of pan. Chill crust in until next step.
Make fudge layer: Bring cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate and peanut butter until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour into bottom of chilled crust and spread in an even layer. Freeze until fudge layer is firm, about 30-40 minutes.
Heat oven: To 325°F.
Make cheesecake layer: Using stand or electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in sour cream, then eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour over fudge layer once set in the freezer.
To bake: Place springform (no need to wrap with foil) on middle baking rack. Bake cake until slightly firm to the touch and the top appears dry, about 1 hour. The center two inches should only move slightly when pan is gently shaken. Transfer cheesecake to rack in the fridge until fully cool, at least three hours, but for best results chill overnight.
Make ganache topping: Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in choocolate and peanut butter. Pour onto chilled cheesecake and spread to the edges. Return cheesecake to the fridge until the ganache sets, about 30-45 minutes.
To serve: Gently cut around between edge of cheesecake crust and springform pan to make sure it isn’t sticking. Unhinge the sides. Cut into slices and enjoy. Cake keeps in fridge for up to a week.