A while back, I had seen that the Daring Baker’s made a cheesecake, and it struck me that I had never done so myself. Since then, I’ve had the itch–one of those desserts I needed to do soon–and I’ve finally scratched it. I decided plain cheesecake wasn’t for me–I love it, but I just couldn’t make it when dressing it up with some extra flavors seemed so easy. So today, I fell back to one of my favorite flavor combos of all time: chocolate and peanut butter.
Now there are many approaches to cheesecake, the two major distinctions being baked vs frozen. This cheesecake is of the baking variety, and if you have any aversion to this kind thinking its at all challenging, I promise you, its not. As a matter of fact, its dangerously easy–and I say dangerous because making a cheesecake with such little effort…well, I’m sure you understand.
Behind this cheesecake is my usual, from-scratch graham cracker crust, filled with three distinct layers of cheesecake: chocolate, plain, and peanut butter. The tri-banded cake tasted wonderful–it had a luscious, creamy texture that tastes rich while not being too heavy like many cheesecakes are prone to being (you know the kind? Sweet, delicious gut busters). The layers stayed nice and distinct through the baking and the flavors all came through in that familiar combination that gets me weak in the knees (another such flavor: peanut butter and banana). Plus, something about that tang of cream cheese takes the chocolate/peanut butter combo to a fun and addicting place. Even my wife (who was quoted as saying “I don’t like cheesecake”) loved this–it was a real treat and I’d recommend it to everyone who has the slightest inkling about making a cheesecake.
- 1 Graham cracker crust
- 24 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp honey
First, prepare the graham cracker crust. To me, cheesecake needs a crust up the sides as well as on the bottom, but that’s a personal taste thing. Drape your crust according to your preference and bake it blind for about 15 minutes at 325°F.
Let the cream cheese come to room temperature for about an hour. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until lighter in texture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition. Finally, add the cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, beating them all in. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat some more. The batter should be silky smooth and reasonably thick.
Now, divide the batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one plain.
In the second, the flavor is peanut butter. Add the batter, peanut butter, and honey to the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat it well and set aside.
In the third, the flavor will be chocolate. Melt the bittersweet chocolate chunks (30 seconds in microwave, stir, repeat until melted) and give it 30 seconds to cool down a bit. Beat the melted chocolate and cocoa powder into the batter (in the bowl of the stand mixer, of course).
With all three flavors ready, now all that remains is to assemble the cheesecake. The order you choose, doesn’t matter, but into the graham cracker crust, I poured the chocolate batter, smoothed it out, then the plain, and finally, the peanut butter batter. Give the pan a tap in case there’s any air bubbles trapped in there (you don’t want them).
Now, set a pan (larger than your cheesecake pan) in the oven (which is at 350°F) and fill it with water. You want to bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 45-55 minutes (you want the center to have some jiggle to it, still). The water bath tempers the heat of the oven, helping to prevent your cheesecake from cracking. Once time is up, kill the heat, but leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour more before you remove it and let it cool down on the countertop. Once cooled down, let it sit in the fridge overnight before you grab your self a slice.
Optionally, now is a good time to top your cake with some ganache, but trust me, you’ll love it with or without. Enjoy!