PB&J Cheesecake with Poured Ganache (how-to video).

PB&J cheese cake zb 22

Peanut Butter and Jelly is a staple in most children’s diets. In fact, I just read that Americans will consume billions, with a B, of them every year. I can believe it, since my kids picked it for lunch 9 out of 10 times, until very recently. I’ve gone through what must be 100s of pounds of peanut butter and even more jelly. They’re certainly easy to make, which saved me lots of time in the mornings before school, but I felt a little guilty packing it for them EVERY day. I mostly dreaded other parents finding out that my kids ate the same thing over and over. In my head I wanted them to eat bento boxes, with carved vegetables and seaweed salad, but, it was their lunch, their choice and they loved PB&J. The truth is that I love it too; almost everyone does, if we’re honest. Here’s a cheesecake that has all the fond memories of those childhood sandwiches, but it’s way more decadent and sophisticated.

Once in a while I find a new product that changes the way I cook and bake. I felt this way about the Silpat and the Microplane Grater when they first hit the restaurant kitchen scene. It was a eureka moment, since both saved time, money and provided results like nothing I’d used. This Lekue 9-Inch Springform Pan may be the coolest new toy in my kitchen. It is made by Lekue and uses the same technology as the beloved silicone mats. The base is made of ceramic, so it is lovely enough to serve on, which eliminates the need to remove the cake from the base. That, in itself, is brilliant, but the silicone also gives insurance that the cake will not stick to the sides, so there is no holding your breath as you remove it. I baked this cheesecake without a water bath. I need to test to see if it is waterproof, but that is asking a lot of a springform pan and I would continue to wrap the bottom in foil if I used it in water.

 

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Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

This is a pie for Mikey. One of many today that will be baked by fellow food bloggers in support of one of our own. Last week Jennifer Perillo, the beautiful heart and soul behind In Jennie’s Kitchen, lost her husband. In a desperately brave post she invited everyone, bakers and non-bakers to make a peanut butter pie to share with those we love, in honor of her husband Mikey. Peanut Butter Pie was his favorite and I created this version in his honor. I hope you will make it, enjoy it with your loved ones and hold Jennifer and her family near to your hearts.

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Ultra Peanut Butter Cookies – Introducing Peanut Flour

I have made a discovery. It is peanut flour. Maybe you already know about this richly flavored, silky smooth, gluten-free, low-fat, protein packed ingredient? I just found it recently. Actually, the Peanut Board in Georgia sent me some to play with and I went gaga over it.  Then, I was perusing the isles at Trader Joe’s, as I am apt to do, and there it was in their minuscule baking section. Which means I am NOT the first to know about this.

Unlike other nut flours this one is defatted, which means they remove a portion of the fat, so the peanuts can be milled to a powder. The result is an amazingly smooth texture, with lots of healthy protein and very little fat. These cookies seemed an obvious recipe to start playing with the flour. I wasn’t expecting the flavor to be enhanced as much as I was looking for a gluten-free alternative to the classic cookie. Boy was I wrong, the flavor was more intense and the texture is smoother and more tender than my old recipe. I’d never thought to do a peanut butter cookie post before, because honestly it just didn’t excite me enough. Now I can say I am all a twitter about these cookies! The trick to their success is slightly under baking them so the center is a bit soft and the outside is crisp. I also used a chunky peanut butter for even more peanut taste and texture.

See my pastry movie recommendation at the bottom of this post.

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Chocolate Torte for Passover!

I baked this cake for my dear friend Jen’s 40th Birthday. Just a private little torte for one, or 5 if she decided to share with her family. She’d had a lavish soiree at D’Amico Kitchen and phenomenal cupcakes from my favorite Minneapolis bakery, The Salty Tart. On the quiet Tuesday of Jen’s actual birthday she needed a cake. Her favorite sweet combination is chocolate and peanut butter. I decided to combine my devil’s food with a peanut butter buttercream icing. Because Passover is on my mind I tried my devil’s food recipe with matzo meal and it is a revelation, I may even prefer it and that is saying something! Matzo meal is something I usually only have on hand this time of year, but I may start to keep it in my pantry just for this recipe.

To get the evenly spaced stripes on the cake I used a cake decorating comb, which allows you to fancify your torte quickly and easily.

Other Favorite Passover Desserts:

Chocolate Caramel Matzo

Haystack Macaroons

Fruit Jellies

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The Parisian Peanut Butter Cup!

Every Halloween when my boys come home with their pillow cases full of candy, I always bargain to get the peanut butter cups. It is my candy weakness, well one of the many. Chocolate and peanut butter is a great combination, but for some reason not the picture of sophistication. Peanut butter is thought to be something that you spread on bread and serve to kids when you are in a hurry. But, why not use it for something beyond PB&J. This struck me recently when my 10 year old was doing a STATE project for school about Ohio. He made “buckeye” treats, a sweet resembling the nut of the state tree of Ohio. It is a ball of peanut butter fudge dipped in chocolate (think truffles for kids). He brought them to school and his classmates begged him for the recipe.

I considered showing you the recipe as he delivered them, but to my taste they were a tad sweet and a real mouthful (he insisted they be life size buckeyes). Don’t get me wrong, I ate my share, but I thought with a little tweaking this could be a dessert both children and their parents would devour. I took the filling from the buckeye treats and sandwiched it between two chocolate-almond macarons from La Maison Du Chocolat. It makes me smile to think of the quintessential American candy blended with the dainty French confection. Fantastique! The light, crisp chocolate cookie is the perfect balance for the rich filling. (more…)

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