A creamy peanut butter cheesecake with a chocolate brownie bottom covered in chocolate ganache and Reese's PB cups!
This cheesecake is for peanut butter fans and skeptics. Trust me my husbands family devoured it even though they are not big fans of peanut butter. There is just something about the combination of peanut butter and chocolate that makes it so good - especially if it has a thick brownie bottom!
Brownie bottom - does it dry out?
When making a crust that is not made from cookie like a cake or brownie layer you might think it dries out when you bake it with the cheesecake for more than an hour! Do not worry! This is not the case! The liquid cheesecake batter protects the underlying cake layer from loosing moisture. So only the cheesecake bakes to perfection and the base stays perfectly baked.
These are the cheesecake pans that I always use in my recipe videos: Springform pan and Removable bottom pan
A 8 inch springform pan is the traditional choice to make most cheesecake recipes. I usually use it for no bake cheesecakes. For baked cheesecakes I prefer the removable bottom pan. It has the advantage of fitting a water bath snuggly around it.
How to get the perfect chocolate ganache layer
One of the best thing about this cake is its thick chocolate ganache topping. It is rich and has an intense chocolate flavor! Chocolate ganache is made only with two ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream. I like to use chocolate chips to avoid chopping chocolate which can get quite messy. Then just pour hot heavy cream over the chocolate chips or safe dishes and dump chocolate chips into the hot heavy cream. Let it sit for a few minutes to give the chocolate enough time to melt and then I like to use a whisk and mix it until it becomes smooth.
When covering the cheesecake with the chocolate ganache it is important that the ganache does not feel warm. It should have almost room temperature. This helps to let the ganache set quickly after it is applied and prevents if from running down the sides. You will get a feeling for its consistency. If it is too runny let it cool for a bit longer. If the ganache is too cold it does not float well. To get the ganache back to a good flooding properties, warm it in the microwave for about 8 seconds and stir it until smooth. There is nothing better than a thick ganache topping. Just keep in mind to not squish the soft cheesecake when cutting it! Good knives are gold!
Reeses Peanut butter Cheesecake
Ingredients for an 8 or 9 inch cake
For the brownie layer:
1 cup (200 g) sugar
3/4 cup (90 g) ap flour
2/3 cup (80 g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt, optional
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
For the peanut butter cheesecake batter:
24 oz (680 g) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup (175 g) white sugar
3/4 cup (190 g) peanut butter
4 large eggs
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
3/4 cup (190 g) mini peanut butter cups, quartered
1/4 cup (40 g) Reeses baking chips
1/4 cup (40 g) chocolate chips
For the chocolate ganache:
1 cup (170 g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream, hot
mini Reeses peanut butter cups
Check out my chocolate cheesecake tutorial while this one is in the making
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Start off with a medium sized bowl. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, salt and melted butter. Mix for about 3 minutes. The mixture should be very fluffy and lighter in color. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix it until fluffy. Add the flour mixture and mix the batter until everything is just combined.
Prepare a cheesecake pan with parchment paper and grease it with baking oil or butter. Fill the batter in the prepared 8-inch cake pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Then sprinkle chocolate chips and Reeses chips on top. Let it bake for another 3 to 5 minutes. Cool the layer in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the cheesecake filling, start off with a large bowl or use a food processor. Cream the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and peanut butter with a hand mixer until smooth for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add sour cream and heavy cream. Mix it until smooth. Add in eggs and mix them in. Fold in chopped Reeses peanut butter cups and fill the batter on top of the baked brownie. Cover the spring form pan in aluminum foil or a silicon baking pan to make sure no water can enter.
Bake the cake in a 1 inch high water bath at 300 °F for about 80 minutes. Turn off the oven and let it cool in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take it out and cut around the edge with a knife to loosen it and to prevent cracks. Let it come to room temperature for another 30 minutes. Then let it cool over night or for at least 6 hours in the fridge.
While the cheesecake is chilling it is time to make the chocolate ganache. For the ganache add chopped dark chocolate in a medium sized bowl and pour hot heavy cream over it. Let it sit for 3 minutes, then whisk it until it comes together. It should have a smooth consistency but not be too runny. Let it come to room temperature before using.
To decorate the cooled cheesecake take it out of the spring pan and arrange it on a serving plate. The chocolate ganache should be almost at room temperature. The colder it is the faster it is going to set once applied on the cake. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread it with a spatula to cover the whole surface of the cake. Let it drip on the sides if you want. Decorate the top with chopped mini Reeses peanut butter cups.
To ensure a crack free cheesecake I recommend to read this cheesecake recipe.
To ensure a smooth consistency without any lumps of cream cheese the cream cheese has to be at room temperature and mixed well before adding more ingredients. Add just a small amount of liquid ingredients at the beginning and mix it in completely before adding more.
Tapping the cheesecake on the counter (covered with a kitchen towel) before baking helps releasing air bubbles that might have formed.
Always bake the cheesecake in a water bath. Got water in your layers of aluminum foil? Switch to a silicon mold to cover your spring form pan. Works wonders for me!