Lessons learned with Chocolate PB Cheesecake Minis

PBC Cheesecake COVER

One of my favorite combinations are peanut butter and chocolate.  Hands down.  The.best.ever.  Just a few of my favorites…  peanut butter blossomspeanut butter cups, puppy chow,  cocoa crispy peanut butter treats, GF PB cheesecake…. all deliciously perfect.

I wanted to make mini chocolatey-PB desserts so I set off to make a yummy layered cheesecake.  I’m not sure if this is more for the PB lover or the chocolate lover.  If you are either, this is definitely a winner!  I learned a few lessons while making this dessert I thought were worth sharing…

Lesson #1 – When Life Hands You Lemons…

PBC Cheesecake Crust

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  When life hands you Oreos, make pie crust!  Well life didn’t really hand me lemons, or Oreos, but I did learn that Oreos can be used in place of chocolate pie crust!  The easiest way to make the crust on this dessert is to make it as a single pie and buy the premade chocolate pie crust.  This is definitely the easy route but it’s guaranteed goodness.  The second best would be chocolate graham crackers.  If this isn’t an option either, Oreos are a perfect substitution!!

PBC Cheesecake oreos

The Crust: 1 1/2 cups finely crushed Oreos or chocolate graham crackers, 1/2 cup melted butter and 2 tbsp sugar

Mix ingredients and scoop a small bit into the bottom on mini cupcake tins, lined with paper liners.  Mash the crust mixture down until it’s firm.  Step 1 done!  Bonus: chances are you will have leftovers for the Oreos so when life hands you Oreos… grab a glass of almond milk! 🙂

PBC Cheesecake crust 2

There are 2 parts to the filling – a chocolate layer and a peanut butter layer.

Ingredigents for the filling: 2 8oz packages of cream cheese,  1 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 2 cups chocolate morsels, 2 tbsp. almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla

Lesson #2 – If you think a bowl is going to be too small, it is. 

I overestimated the size of the bowl and underestimated the amount of the filling on this one.

In a bowl, beat 1 package of cream cheese until smooth.  Add peanut butter and 1/4 cup sugar.  Now fold in 1 lightly beaten egg.  Set aside.  Baker’s note:  this is so so yummy!  I try not to eat batter because of that whole raw-egg-get-sick thing, but sometimes I just can’t help but get a bite. 🙂

PBC Cheesecake filling PB

For the chocolate layer, melt the morsels in the microwave carefully.  Add 1 package of cream cheese and stir.  Mix in milk and vanilla.  Fold in 2 lightly beaten eggs.

PBC Cheesecake filling choco

I ended up with two super small bowls and not a whole lot of room to do anything.  Slowing and carefully, the mixtures were complete but not without some spills.

PBC Cheesecake filling both

The final part is to layer the mixtures in the cups.

Lesson #3 – Mini cupcake tins aren’t tall enough for the perfect layers.

I’m a fan of chocolate-peanut butter-chocolate layers.  If using a single pie, this is the perfect order.  However, in these mini cups, I ended up running out of  chocolate and overflowing with crust.  Taste did not sacrifice here though!!

The right way: cover the bottom with half of the chocolate mixture.  Divide the PB mixture evenly among the cups.  Layer the remaining chocolate on top.

PBC Cheesecake stages

For the single pie – bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  For these mini cakes – bake for about 15-20 minutes.

The outer edges will be dry looking but the center will look darker and wet.  Cool on a wire rack and then chill for at least 4 hours.  Top with whipped cream before serving!   <— Taste > Looks (always)

PBC Cheesecake done

Bon Appetite! 

Gluten Free Cran-Nut-Apple Cobbler

GF Cran Nut Apple COVER

Another one of my favorite holiday foods is this Cran-Nut-Apple Cobbler.  For lack of a better name, it is named for its ingredients – cranberry, walnuts and apples.

I’ve served this cobbler as both a dinner side casserole and a dessert cobbler.  It goes great as a side because it’s sweet and fruity to complement any meaty dinner.  BUT if you don’t happen to had a dessert for dinner, this is sure to impress!  Just add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!  The warm “cobbler” is sweet and the cold creamy vanilla tastes so good with it.

I’m not a cranberry fan so in attempt to like new things, this is the perfect “starter” cranberry dish!  After your taste buds like this, try my Gluten Free Baked Brie!  Chances are you will have some fresh cranberries left over so give the brie a try!

GF Cran Nut Apple Ingredients

Another thing I love about this recipe is that it’s gluten free!  In order to stay on the GF theme, I enjoyed a glass of organic red wine!  I got a bottle of Orleans Hill Cote Zero Organic Red from a great friend for my birthday.  This Organic Red was so yummy!  The makers of this wine suggest pairing this wine with “duck breast or vegetarian chili.”  Since I didn’t have either this night (or ever – duck?! What?!) I paired this wine with my cobbler… I’d say it paired quite well!

I’m also a huge (new) fan of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free products.  These are a little hard to find but I found the jackpot at none other than, Big Lots.  Seriously!  Big Lots  actually has a big Bob section!  You can get a variety of flour, oatmeal, flax seed and all sorts of beans.

GF Cran Nut Apple ApplesSo here you go!  The Gluten Free Cran-Nut-Apple Cobbler:

  • 3 cups peeled, chopped Granny Smith apples
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal, gluten free
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Walnuts (or pecans) and extra cranberries for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the apples, cranberries and 2 tbsp flour.  Add white sugar and mix well.  Put these in a 2 qt casserole dish.

GF Cran Nut Apple Mix

Now combine oatmeal, walnuts, brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and cinnamon.  Add melted butter and mix well.

GF Cran Nut Apple topping

Last step – scoop oatmeal mixture on top of fruit mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes.

GF Cran Nut Apple pre bake

This recipe is super easy and chances are, you already have these ingredients!  Don’t completely give up on cranberries until you have tried them a few different ways!

Bon Appetite!

Mashed Potato Maddness

mashed pot COVER

Anyone else think mashed potatoes are understated?   Maybe it’s just me who undervalues this startchy veggie.  Mashed potatoes are probably one of the last side dishes I select at a restaurant unless they are known to be awesome at that place.  I do love a baked potato at BBQ restaurants but will always go for baked beans and mac n cheese first.

Even though potatoes lack color, they don’t lack substance.  Baked potatoes are high in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium, providing just over 25% daily value in 1. Potatoes belong to the same family as tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, all my favorites.  World’s Healthiest Foods rate potatoes as a “good” food, under very good and excellent.

During the holidays, I had 3 random baked potatoes left uncooked and not planned for anything.  In order to eat something other an a whole potato, I wanted to change it up with yummy mashed potatoes…. so this super easy mashed potato recipe was born!

mashed pot potatoesIngredients

  • 3 baked potatoes
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, boil water.  Add a dash of salt.  Cube potatoes and boil for about 10 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, chop parsley and onion.

mashed pot ingredients

When the potatoes are done, Mixed in a large bowl with parsley, onion, milk, cream cheese, milk and salt and pepper.

mashed pot milk

I absolutely love Silk PureAlmond unsweetened almond milk.  I don’t drink cow’s milk anymore and haven’t for quite some time.  An added bonus you might not have thought of- almond milk stays better longer than cow’s milk!

Aside from being super excited to decorate for Christmas this year, this recipe got me in the spirit for mashed potatoes!  I forgot how much I liked these until I added some onion and herbs.  Yumm! 🙂

mashed put table