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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

For Julia's birthday last weekend, I wanted to make her a chocolate peanut butter dessert-one of her favorite combos-and gave her several dessert options. After much prodding (those who know her know making decisions is something she prefers not to do), she ultimately chose this one and I secretly breathed a sigh of relief. You see, while all of the options I presented her with were enticing, this is the one I wanted to make. I saw this recipe a long time ago on Annie's Eats and have been waiting for an excuse to make it.

The only difference between Annie's version and mine is that I opted to freeze it before serving rather than refrigerate it. That was definitely the right choice. Although I liked the creamy filling (definitely chowed down on what didn't fit in the springform pan), it was infinitely better frozen. It still had the same taste, but I preferred the mixture in a more solid texture.

While this takes a few different bowls to make, it doesn't take too terribly long to put together. I made the torte crust and filling the evening before, froze it, and added the ganache the next morning, freezing again until serving. This might be one of my favorite desserts I've ever made, and certainly one that will be repeated in the future!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte
recipe seen on Annie's Eats, from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the crust--
-32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs
-5 1/3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
-small pinch of salt

For the crunch--
-1 1/4 cups salted peanuts, finely chopped, divided
-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
-2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp espresso powder
-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
-dash of ground nutmeg

For the filling--
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
-12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (I had 1/3 less fat on hand and it still tasted very rich!)
-1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
-2 tbsp whole milk (I used skim)

For the topping--
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter, and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes, then bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before filling.

2. To make the crunch, in another small bowl combine 1/2 of the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and set aside.

3. To prepare the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar and whip until the cream holds medium firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.

4. Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioners' sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined.

5. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 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 mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate (or freeze) for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

6. To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof 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 bowl from the saucepan. Bring the 1/2 cups of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.

7. Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a spatula. Scatter the remaining peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan and refrigerate (or freeze) until ready to serve.

**Note: I had some extra filling that didn't fit in the springform pan. I also had some leftover chopped peanuts, which I'm figuring out what recipe I'll incorporate those into :)