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! 

Chocolate Boiled Cookies: A taste of home

Choco Boiled Cover

A holiday cookie that always reminds me of home is chocolate boiled cookies.  I am not sure why these were always baked around the holidays but I sure am glad they are!  These slightly healthy treats are also called No Bake Cookies since you don’t bake them, you boil them!  I know slightly healthy is a stretch but these are super yummy and easy to make!

Choco Boiled cocoaIngredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups quick oats

This recipe can easily be gluten free!  Just make sure your ingredients are labeled gluten free and you’re good to go!  Unfortunately, things like sugar and oats may be processed in plants containing gluten so they aren’t fully gluten free without that label.

Put butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and milk in a saucepan, stir and bring to a boil.

Choco Boiled ingredients

Once the boiling starts, time 1 minute.  Stir constantly.

Choco Boiled boiling

Remove from heat and add peanut butter and stir until melted.  Finally, stir in quick oats.

Choco Boiled Oats

As quickly as possible, scoop cookies onto wax paper.  This part I stink at so I always try and get an extra set of hands.   I like these cookies thin so the trick is to scoop them when they are still hot and before they firm.  Once they cool and are solid, you can eat or refrigerate.  I actually love these for breakfast (ok, bad I know…) but it’s oatmeal and milk… 🙂

Emmie wanted to say hello during this cookie session!

Choco Boiled EMMIE

Bon Appetite!

Puppy Chow and Puppy Play Dates

reindeer food cover

One of my all time favorite desserts to make during the holidays is puppy chow.  Not sure why this is a “holiday” dessert, but I always crave it this time of year.  The traditional puppy chow/reindeer food/muddy buddies dessert uses semi-sweet morsels, peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar and chex cereal.  This year I wanted to try something new so I attempted to make different varieties of this dessert using dark chocolate and almond butter. – Justifying eating this with the antioxidants in the chocolate and the healthier almond butter.  🙂

So here’s puppy chow – the 2013  version:

reindeer food ingredientsIngredients:

  • 7 oz (1/2 box) Chex corn square cereal
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1  cup dark chocolate morsels

Double the recipe if you want.  I make smaller amounts because #1 – I’m obsessed with it and #2 – I wanted to have leftovers to try other combinations.

reindeer food mix

I also think life should be efficient and if you can make it in the microwave… make it in the microwave!  I love this dish because it really is a one bowl wonder.

Combine butter, almond butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt for about 1 minute.  Remove, stir and melt again in 30 second increments until smooth.  Don’t over cook or the chocolate will get very lumpy.  Add vanilla for sweetness.

Mix the chocolate mixture with cereal (I usually use a grocery bag or large dish to mix it all) until fully coated.  Add powdered sugar and shake until coated.  And that’s it!  Nothing else to it! Best part about this is you can eat it right away!

reindeer food done

On another note – While I was making this, Emmie had a puppy play date with some of her friends…  I had 6 eyes glued on me the whole time.

reindeer food pups

After getting no attention in the kitchen, Emmie went crazy and tried to show this big puppy lab, Zam, who was boss.  🙂

reindeer food pups2

Christmas to do list:

  • Make puppy chow – DONE
  • Make puppy super tired and fearless – DONE

What’s your must have holiday dessert?