There’s nothing like a little baking adversity to pull people together. Last week my fluted polenta and ricotta cake was a flop. What had I done wrong? Results from other bakers were all over the map. It was great to hear from all the cheerleaders that rallied to give support. After tasting this week’s recipe for Peanut Butter Torte, chosen by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food, I have to tell Dorie that all is forgiven.
As for this week, I have to admit my heart hasn’t really been in it. I have a dear friend who is very sick with cancer, and though she lives in another state, she is constantly on my mind and my heart is so heavy (Tuesday evening update: I am so sorry to say that my friend passed away this morning).
I had been really looking forward to making this, and my son was looking forward to eating it. I’ve been feeling helpless and angry but also wanted to keep busy. Fortunately, this wasn’t a recipe that required a lot of patience or concentration, both of which are in short supply right now. It went together very easily, if somewhat messily. I thought of just a few things I would change for next time:
- I would add 5 more cookies to the crust so that I don’t feel like I’m skimping when I’m building up the sides plus a reminder to myself to add more butter to compensate for the extra cookies.
- The ganache had a very thin consistency;I did chill it for a little while and, of course, it thickened up eventually. Next time I will only add 1/4 cup of whipping cream. I will chop peanuts for the top separately and into bigger pieces.
- For a change of pace, my son had the great suggestion of using golden Oreos with chocolate filling for the crust. How about chopped peanut butter cups in the filling and on top?
Oh, this cake is so delicious. It’s rich and creamy with a little bit of that salty/sweet combination that I love! It’s really more like an unbaked cheesecake. My husband, who doesn’t have a big sweet tooth, called it decadent. He ate 2 pieces on Sunday night.
My four-year-old nephew tasted it and put his head on my shoulder and wistfully said, “I wish I could have helped you make it.” I asked him if he wanted to come over soon and make a cake. “A chocolate cake? A little chocolate cake?” he asked. Yes, I promised him we would make chocolate cupcakes together. His twin sister took a bite and pronounced it yucky. There’s no accounting for taste.
On a side note, I have a friend with an egg allergy who was thrilled to see that this recipe contained no eggs.
Next week, Florida Pie, chosen by Dianne of Dianne’s Dishes.
Looking at the photo below I’m glad I’m heading downstairs right now to have a slice before I go to bed.
Peanut Butter Torte
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl (I didn’t even bother wiping out the bowl. I was tempted to lick it clean, but then I would have had to wash it), fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.
When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.