I am the designated birthday cake maker around these parts.
When it's your birthday, you get to choose whatever kind of cake you want. I do it for our family and for the people at my office. (And someone told me yesterday she knows what kind of cupcakes she wants next. . . for her birthday in May.)
My sister's birthday celebration was last weekend, and she chose chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. Yes, please.
This is not a complicated recipe, although it does have several steps. It is a very rich cheesecake, and definitely is a recipe I will use again!
1/2 stick of melted butter
2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
5 eggs at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (Real peanut butter - not low fat. Trust me.)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 T vanilla
1 bag of mini peanut butter cups
1/4 cup peanut butter
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (pieces or chocolate chips - either is fine)
3/4 cup, plus one tablespoon heavy cream
15-20 mini peanut butter cups
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put your 15-20 mini peanut butter cups for the topping in the refrigerator or freezer. (This will help later when you have to peel the wrappers off.) Grease a 9" spring-form pan.
2. Crush Oreos and mix with 1/2 stick of melted butter. Press this into the bottom and slightly up the sides of your pan; this will be your crust. Bake crust for 15 minutes. While it's baking, roughly chop and set aside the mini peanut butter cups that you did not refrigerate.
3. Beat cream cheese with a stand mixer or electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time to cream cheese mixture. Beat well, then add sugar, peanut butter and cream until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture into the pan. Layer with chopped up peanut butter cups, then top with the remaining cheesecake mixture.
4. Turn oven down to 325. Bake for 1-1/2 hours in oven. (If you are able, place your spring-form pan inside a larger pan and fill the larger pan halfway with water to create a water bath for your cheesecake. This will allow your cheesecake to cook more slowly and evenly. If you can't do that, it's still OK!) When done, the sides of your cheesecake should be firm, but the center may wiggle slightly. It should not look like liquid. The top and/or center may have cracked a bit. The center is the last part to finish, so sort of jiggle your pan to see if it's pretty solid. If you use a tester in your cheesecake, it should come out with solid pieces of cake, not runny liquid. Once done, let your cheesecake cool for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate for several hours.
5. Remove the wrapping from your refrigerated mini peanut butter cups and set the unwrapped cups aside. Melt your chocolate pieces in the microwave or double boiler. Once melted, cool for five minutes, then mix with 3/4 cup of cream to make a homemade hot fudge sauce. Pour this mixture over the top of your cheesecake, while it is still in the pan. Gently press the peanut butter cups into the topping around the edges of your cake. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill the chocolate and set the cups.
6. Place peanut butter and 1 T of whipping cream in microwave for 1-2 minutes, enough to create a runny consistency. Place in piping bag and swirl onto top of chocolate topping on cheesecake or use a spoon to drizzle it across the top of the cheesecake.
7. Refrigerate until about 1 hour before you are ready to serve. To remove it from the pan, run a large knife under some hot water and carefully slide it around the inside of the pan. Release the spring-form, and the cheesecake should come right out. ENJOY!!