But, we've been really, really sick and I was pretty sure there would be no Easter feast (as a group we lacked the energy to eat or cook) or Easter baskets so I thought a decadent Easter dessert might be just the thing to tempt my guys back to the table.
And tempt it did.
Sorry there is no step by step. We were so sick I made this recipe over several days, in my housecoat... it wasn't a 'step out the dessert' kind of week.
Chocolate Peanut Torte
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs (I used Double Stuff - awesome!)
5 1/3 tbsp.
1 1/4 cups salted peanuts, finely chopped, divided (for the filling, crunch and topping)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. espresso powder (We ground up instant coffee powder in our mortar and pestle instead)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg (I have a "dash" measure, but I'm never sure if they mean a literal dash or just a sprinkling... please discuss :-) )
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (we used 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cream cheese)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
2 tbsp. whole milk (Never have it on hand. did 1 tsp cream and 1 tsp skim)
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (We ended up using a bit more. Our Schaffenberger bars had bloomed and looked grody so I thought I'd throw a little extra in instead of nibbling at them with coffee. IMHO, I thnk dark would have been better. Bittersweet was a bit too bitter... and I like bitter)
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. My spring form pan was closer to 10 inches and it worked fine. Also, I never saw that I was supposed to butter it... so I didn't. The crust has a ton-o-butter so it's greasy enough. It released from the pan perfectly. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter
Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Since I made my crumbs in a food processor, I just tossed the melted butter in there too and whirled it around to combine. No fork tossing. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.
To make the crunch, in another small bowl combine 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar,
To prepare the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks (I always make whipped cream in a blender so I had no idea how long this would take... less time than I thought. Good thing I kept an eye on it.). Beat in 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl (or don't, I didn't. It's all mixing together so why do this?), replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined. (Just an FYI here, it is thick like cookie dough at this stage. I was surprised and hoping I wasn't WAY off track. Now you know.)
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream just to lighten the mousse (Wow! This worked. Whew. Wasn't so sure after the last step). Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. Bring the 1/2 cup of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining peanuts over the top (If you can find them. We lost the peanuts - how on earth does my family LOSE a can of peanuts - and after spreading the ganache we all ran through the house frantically screaming, "Where the heck are those stupid peanuts???!!!!????) and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
According to my youngest this was the best dessert in the whole entire world. Which, considering how much we bake and love to sample desserts that is REALLY saying something.
My opinion is cut really small slices. It's SUPER rich. I'm a fan (but not fanatic) about the combination of peanut and chocolate (give me coffee and chocolate any day) but this was very nuanced, balanced and sophisticated. I especially loved the salt and nutmeg notes - it added something very special to the flavor. This would be a show-stopping crowd-pleaser at a party or event.
Afterward: On a hunch, I decided to try freezing a slice and see what I got - it has a lot of similar qualities to ice-cream so... why not? Oh My Gosh!!!! It's like a sophisticated cross between Mississippi Mud Pie and those Snickers Ice Cream bars. CRAZY! AWESOME! My boys inhaled the frozen piece and asked me to freeze the rest... IMMEDIATELY! It's positively perfect frozen. So if you make this and it seems a little too rich, pop it in the freezer and expect a transcendent experience.