Friday, October 25, 2013

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie

You might have noticed I've been MIA on this blog for the last week or so. I was in Boston for work all of last weekend and it was such an exhausting trip that I think it broke me a little bit. I have been SO tired all week, and when I've been able to just come home after work, I've done nothing but lay on the couch and catch up on TV. I just haven't had the energy for blogging. But I'm back, and with a really yummy dessert to make up for it!

For my friend Maria's birthday, I knew I wanted to make something with chocolate and peanut butter. It also needed to be something relatively easy, because my schedule the week that I made it only allowed me a little bit of time late one night after a work dinner in New York City to make it. I scoured the internet and the resulting dessert is a combination of a number of different recipes from which I took some ideas here and there. I ended up with a very rich (seriously, make sure you have milk on hand) and very delicious treat, if I do say so myself.

A few items to note:
1. On top of the crust and drizzled over the top, I actually used Pampered Chef's chocolate peanut butter sauce. However I realize not everyone may be able to get their hands on that when needed (unless you want to order it from me!), so I wrote the recipe with hot fudge and I think that would be just as delicious.
2. Make sure you crush up your pretzel pieces really well. It was late and I was lazy and I had a few chunks in there that were really too big, and I think made the crust harder to cut.
3. I made this in a springform pan, so that's how I wrote the recipe, but I think it would work equally well in a pie plate or square baking dish. It just might be a little harder to slice and remove from the dish.
4. I made this as a frozen dessert because that seemed to be the direction a lot of people take with their peanut butter pies. However, I think it could easily be stored in the fridge rather than the freezer, and it would be a lot easier to slice than this was!
5. I used whipped cream from a can to make the decorations on top because, as I said, I needed a quick solution. However, after sitting at room temperature for just a short time, the fancy flourishes sort of melted and lost their shape a bit. I might recommend making homemade whipped cream, which can be a little more stable.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pie

1 stick butter, very soft
2 cups crushed pretzels
2 Tbsp brown sugar

8 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup Cool Whip, thawed
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp hot fudge
Whipped cream, for decorating
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minis (the kind that come unwrapped), for decorating (I used 22)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the softened butter, crushed pretzels, and brown sugar together until well combined. Press the mixture onto the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan.  Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then put in refrigerator or freezer to harden and  finish setting up.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and mix well. Gently fold in the Cool Whip until fully combined and no white streaks remain.

Spread 1/3 cup of hot fudge (you might want to soften it slightly in the microwave to make it easier to spread) onto the pretzel crust. If you have time, you could put this in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set up slightly. If not, just carefully add the peanut butter/cream cheese mixture over the hot fudge and spread gently to even out the top. Put in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 4 hours. If you do freeze the pie, let it sit out for about 15 - 20 minutes before serving to make it easier to cut.

Just before serving, slightly melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of hot fudge in the microwave. Add it to a small sandwich bag and cut a small piece off the corner of the bag. Drizzle the hot fudge over the top of the pie, creating any pattern you choose. Add whipped cream flourishes around the edge, and top with mini Reese's peanut butter cups.

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