Thursday, May 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Torte

I am sorry.  I really am.  I didn't mean to do this to you.  But I did.  I made this peanut butter torte.  Once you have a bite, there is no going back.  Again, I apologize.

It is the final days of the school year up here, which means it is Intensive time.  Students get to pick a course of study to focus on "intensively" for three weeks.  We have students conducting science projects in the Galapagos, kids making digital short films, some on outdoor adventures, a group examining the Civil War, some tie-dying everything, a group delving into the works of Beatrix Potter, high school juniors creating their scholarship and college entrance portfolios, and so much more.  We also have a Photography Intensive, which is what brought me to this peanut butter torte.  As mentioned in an earlier post, my goal for the summer is to take pictures of my food that adequately highlight the wonderful flavors inside.  As you all know, currently my pictures are awful.  Anyhow, for the photography intensive, we had a "Food Too Pretty to Eat" photo session, which was great practice for me.  I wanted to make something that was decadent, had lots of texture, and a good story to tell.  Jackpot--the peanut butter torte.


Although the picture doesn't do it justice (I am learning!), this may be the most delectable treat I have ever made.  Seriously, it is three-star Michelin worthy.  It would win awards for sure.  The cookie crust, the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, the crunch of the peanuts and chocolate, the creamy filling, and the rich topping truly create a masterpiece.  You heard me, a masterpiece.  One taster said, "Dear Lord, my dad may leave my mom....over this torte."  It is that good.

It is a once-in-a-special-occasion kind of treat.  Like Valentine's Day.  Or a special birthday.  This is something you save for a very important day.  It also requires a bit of work (and an awful lot of dishes), but it is definitely worth every second.

Again, I apologize for presenting this to you.  Plan on some extra exercise--you can discuss how guiltless you feel about the additional calories because it is that good.  I am sorry.  But you will thank me later for sure.



Peanut Butter Torte:
Closely adapted from this recipe.


Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cup finely ground chocolate Teddy Graham crumbs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted 
  • (next time, I may increase the chocolate crumbs to 2 cups and the butter to 1/2 cup
Crunchy Stuff for the Filling:
  • 1/2 cup loosely chopped salted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup loosely chopped semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (Starbucks Via works very well)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground nutmeg 
Filling:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 12 ounces reduced fat (but not fat free) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup loosely chopped salted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter 
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream 
Ganache Topping:
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces of broken/smashed bittersweet chocolate 
  • 1/2 cup loosely chopped salted peanuts


To make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Very liberally butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. 
  3. Combine Teddy Graham crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl.
  4. Combine with a fork to moisten crumbs. 
  5. Use your fingers to press into a thin layer covering bottom and sides of springform pan to within one inch of the rim. 
  6. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. 
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.  
To make the crunchy stuff for the filling:
  1. In another small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of chopped peanuts, chopped semisweet chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. 
  2. Mix to combine and set aside.
To make the filling:
  1. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip the 2 cups of cream until it holds medium peaks. 
  2. Beat in 1/4 of powdered sugar and whip until cream holds medium-firm peaks. 
  3. Transfer cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed. 
  4. Wipe out (do not wash) mixer bowl and replace whisk with paddle attachment. 
  5. Beat cream cheese with remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. 
  6. Beat in peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of cream, and 1/4 cup of chopped peanuts until well combined. 
  7. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of refrigerated whipped cream to lighten the peanut butter mousse-like mixture. 
  8. Still working with spatula, stir in the crunchy stuff for the filling.  
  9. Fold in remaining whipped cream until just combined.
All together now!
  1. Scrape the filling into crust, mounding and smoothing top. 
  2. Refrigerate uncovered until the filling sets.  Then cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight.
  4. After it is fully cooled, leave it in the fridge while you make the topping.
  5. Put the crushed chocolate in a medium sized bowl.  
  6. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil.
  7. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 3-5 minutes so the chocolate can melt.
  8. Use a spatula to stir the ganache together until smooth. 
  9. Carefully pour the ganache over the torte.  Smooth with a butter knife. 
  10. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of peanuts over the top.
  11. Chill to set the ganache.  (It is torture, I know.)
  12. EAT YOUR HEART OUT!

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