Archive | February, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

23 Feb

I’ve been on a chocolate/peanut butter kick lately, and my boyfriend has been asking me to bake another cheesecake.  So, I decided to combine both of our cravings into one delicious dessert.  I have decided that I’m an evil genius, because this cheesecake is in-freakin-credible.  You could throw peanut butter cups in the cheesecake batter, or use an Oreo crust, but I decided to keep it simple.  Don’t skimp on the chocolate ganache, because that’s what takes this cheesecake to the next level.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

For the Crust:

2 Tbsp sugar

1 ½ C. Graham Cracker Crumbs

½ C. finely chopped peanuts

½ C. melted butter

Combine the peanuts, sugar, and graham cracker crumbs.  Slowly stir in melted butter, and mix ingredients together until moistened.  Pat mixture into a 9-in’ spring form pan, and place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

For The Filling:

4 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

5 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Reese’s)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add sugar, peanut butter and cream; mix until smooth.
  • Stir in vanilla
  • Pour filling into prepared crust.
  • Place spring form pan into a larger baking pan.
  • Pour hot water into the larger pan so that the water comes 1 inch up the sides of the spring form pan.
  • Bake at 275°F 2 hours, or until the outside is firm and the middle jiggles
  • Turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for one hour

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When the cheesecake has completely cooled, prepare chocolate ganache (recipe follows), and top cheesecake.  Place the cooled cheesecake back in the refrigerator for another hour or until the ganache starts to set.

Ganache:

Heat 2/3 C. of Heavy Cream with 1 C. of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler.  (A glass bowl, over a pot of simmering water.)  Allow the ganache to come to room temperature before pouring it over the top of the cheesecake.  Using a spatula, spread the chocolate over the cheesecake, allowing some to drip down the sides.

Lasagna

5 Feb

When it is cold outside, you want something comforting and hearty.  Sometimes soup doesn’t cut it.  Tonight I made a lasagna for dinner, just like my mom made when we were growing up.  Except my mom made her own sauce.  It’s not that I can’t make my own sauce, it’s just… jars of spaghetti sauce were buy one get one free, and I couldn’t pass up a bargain.  I’m definitely not a purist, anyway.  You’ll notice that I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta, which sounds disgusting, but trust me… it’s good.  I hate cottage cheese.  With all the sauce, cheese, meat, and pasta, you won’t even know it’s there, but it adds a creaminess to the dish.  Also, it’s cheaper than ricotta, and I don’t care for the graininess of ricotta.  My boyfriend, who claims not to like lasagna, really enjoyed this lasagna.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or if you’re feeling ambitious, homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmesan
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 9 lasagna noodles (boiled or oven-ready)
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages shredded mozzarella

Method:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

In a large pan, combine beef, sausage, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbled; drain.

Return meat to pan and add spaghetti sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.  Since you’re using a pre-made sauce, you can eliminate this step, but if you have the time, it really gives you a more robust flavor.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine cottage cheese, parmesan, and eggs.

Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of a 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce, reserving 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.

Bake 45 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

*I know it’s hard to resist cutting into it right away, but you can’t skip this step, or you’ll have a gloppy mess.  I put the garlic bread in the oven while I was letting the lasagna rest.

Resting...

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

4 Feb

I knew I was going to be stuck at home all day today, because I was waiting for the cable guy.  So, I planned a day of baking cupcakes and making lasagna to occupy my time.  I was inspired to make Peanut Butter and Chocolate cupcakes when I was eating at Freddy’s Frozen Custard the other day.  They have a Triple Peanut Butter Concrete that is A-MAZ-ING! I forgot how much I love the chocolate/peanut butter flavor combination.  For these cupcakes, I used cake mix from a box, jazzed up a little, but definitely use your favorite chocolate cake recipe (if you have one).

Cake Ingredients:

  • Chocolate Cake Mix (prepare using the directions on the box) *I used the kind with pudding in the mix*
  • A handful (yeah, real technical stuff here) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirradeli)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:

  • 1 Cup Butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 3 Cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • (optional garnish: miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, halved)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Fix cake mix according to the directions on the package.  Stir in vanilla, and chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into cupcake liners, 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-22 minutes.

After the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost.

Frosting: Mix butter, peanut butter, and vanilla thoroughly with a mixture.  Add the powdered sugar, and mix well.  Add the heavy cream, and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy.

(Make sure to refrigerate any leftover cupcakes, because of the dairy in the frosting.)