I love peanut butter. As a child, any treat that had peanut butter in it was good in my book. I just couldn’t have enough. Given this though, it was kind of surprising looking through everything I’ve posted here, that not once have I made a peanut butter dessert! 😮 To address this clear emergency: a peanut butter torte.
This treat was largely inspired by Susan’s beautiful peanut butter torte which had me drooling for peanut butter like Pavlov’s dog. I wanted this dessert to be absolutely sinful to eat, so from bottom to top: a graham cracker crust, an inner chocolate ganache crust, peanut butter mousse with spiced nuts and chocolate, a top layer of chocolate ganache, drizzles of caramel, toasted peanuts, and creme chantilly. Whew!
So did it deliver? Oh did it ever. This is definitely a dessert for the peanut butter lover. Crunchy, creamy, smooth, sweet, dark, toasty, chocolatey, peanutty–just a whole lot of adjectives that don’t capture how delicious this was. I was sad to see the last slice go–I could eat this everyday if my arteries would allow it. 😉
- 1 Graham cracker pie crust
- Crust ganache
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Peanut Butter Mousse
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- bit of honey
- 1.33 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup + 3 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup peanut butter (I like it chunky–use what you like)
- 1.5 Tbsp whole milk
- 4-6 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
- Creme Chantilly
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Begin by preparing and blind baking your graham cracker crust at 325°F for about 18 minutes. Let it cool off a bit.
While the crust is cooling, work on the first layer of ganache. Either in a double boiler or in the microwave (working in 30 second increments so you don’t burn it), melt the chocolate with the cream, stirring until fully mixed and silky smooth. Spread this over the inside of the pie crust, being sure to leave the upper edges of your crust uncovered.
Let the pie crust (and ganache) cool down. If you’re in a hurry (I was), set the crust in the freezer for 10 minutes before moving to the fridge.
In all likelihood, you won’t be working with raw peanuts, but here in Florida, its peanut season, so I just couldn’t help myself to a bag of blanched peanuts (so no added flavors beyond the peanut itself!). So if you’re also working with raw nuts, roast them for about 10 minutes in the oven (I did this at the same time as my pie crust). Give these time to cool off before you chop them up coarsely.
Once you do chop the nuts, toss them in a bowl with the chocolate chips (chop them, too), sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and since my peanuts were plain, I added a squirt of honey. Set this aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks start forming, at which point, you should add 3 Tbsp of the confectioner’s sugar so that after a bit more mixing, you get medium-firm peaks. Scrape this out into a good sized bowl and refrigerate until we need it later.
Now, switch to your paddle attachment on the mixer and beat the cream cheese and remaining 2/3 cup of confectioners sugar until the cream cheese takes on a smooth, silky texture.
Once the cream cheese is well beaten, add in the peanut butter and milk, beating this until fully mixed into the cream cheese.
At this point, you’ll want to get the whipped cream back out of the fridge. Fold (not beat or mix) a bit of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten things up a bit and to fluff up the texture some.
Once reasonably incorporated, fold in the spiced nut mix you prepared earlier. Finally, fold in the rest of the whipped cream, working the mousse only as much as absolutely necessary.
At this point, you should get the pie crust out of the fridge and fill it with the mousse. Set this in the fridge for a bit before you cover with plastic wrap (so that the mousse can firm up and prevent it from sticking to the plastic wrap). Let this chill for several hours (until it is set) or, like me, overnight. Also, if it seems like you have a little more mousse than should comfortably fill your pie crust, help yourself to a very generous bowl cleaning. 😉
So now, the mousse has set and you’re good to continue onto the next step. At this point, its really all about how you want to dress up the top layer. I wanted to drizzle caramel on top, and seeing how this would require a bit more time to cool down than anything else I had planned, I started with that by making a tried and true caramel sauce.
Simply warm the sugar up in a dry sauce pan on high heat until it goes from odd chunks to almost entirely melted down (figure between 5 and 10 minutes), at which point, you should drop the heat a bit, add the butter (be careful! It will froth up and you risk burns!) and whisk it into the caramel. Once totally mixed, remove from the heat, let rest for a few seconds, and then whisk in the cream. When this is totally mixed, let it cool down for a bit before you transfer to another container and set it aside in the fridge to speed up the cooling off.
I also wanted to have more chopped nuts, so again, we do just what we did before: roast some raw peanuts for 10 minutes, let cool off a bit, and chop them up coarsely. Set these aside.
Finally, I also wanted a chocolate ganache layer on top, so repeat what we did for the crust: in either a double boiler or a microwave, melt the chocolate and cream, stirring until shiny and totally smooth.
Now, with all of the components ready, its time to assemble the torte! Spread the chocolate over the surface of the mousse, working somewhat quickly as the cool mousse will chill the ganache and it will firm up, so shape it and smooth things out to your liking before this happens. Its not going to be a 30 second process, but don’t walk away during this process and come back 15 minutes later or something. I left a little space around the crust so that you can see what’s underneath it all.
Then, I drizzled the caramel in a zig-zag on top of the ganache and spread the chopped nuts over that. At this point, things were looking pretty good, and I even had some sunlight for a decent photo. I also had a hungry onlooker who has a nose for peanut butter. He just happened to be coincidentally inching closer when I would be eyeing the camera and not the dessert. No ulterior motives. Just coincidence. Licking his lips to keep them moist, of course.
Give this a little more quality time in the fridge to firm up the top layer before you serve. I decided to squeeze some dollops of creme chantilly around the edges before I did (very easy to make: whip all ingredients in a stand mixer for a few minutes until firmish peaks form), so I grabbed a few more photos.
So finally, cut a slice, taking care not to make a mess of that pretty looking top layer and using some elbow grease to break through the chocolate layer down at the crust level, and dig in!