This food blog inspires me to try a ton of new recipes each week and opens me to worlds of inventive, decadent, and savory dishes. One I’ve been excited to share all week but haven’t had time to type up is an oh-so-decadent cheesecake filled with chunks of brownies (brownie recipe to be posted soon). Yep…double whammy with this one. Really, it’s a quadruple whammy, for it also includes a layer of chocolate ganache (mixture of chocolate and cream) on top. And I decided to try a peanut butter crust. Wait, I forgot that there’s the sour cream layer on top of the cheesecake beneath the ganache, so that’s five whammies. How’s that for flavor layering?
And to add one more flavor: garnish with fresh, sliced strawberries. This discovery was serendipitous. You see, I felt the slice I set up for the photo looked bland. I added some sliced strawberries to create a pop of color, and after the photo shoot, when I ate a forkful of creamy cheesecake + brownie chunks + crunchy peanut butter crust + a thick layer of chocolate + a thin layer of tangy sour cream, that strawberry added a fresh, sweet, tart element that melded with the creamy-crunchy-smooth-chocolatey textures to make the experience all that much more ecstasy-inducing.
Yes, ecstasy-inducing. Everyone who tasted this cheesecake moaned, groaned, and had the most rapturous expressions! My cousin (for I made this for a family gathering) even described it as “orgasmic.” Well…I’ll leave that one for you to decide if you ever make this.
I’ll admit this is a time-consuming dessert only because it has several steps with wait time between several of them: making the brownies, putting together the crust, mixing the cheesecake filling and the sour cream layer, and then preparing the ganache. You have to crumble, mix, press, cool, mix, bake, cool, mix some more, bake some more, melt, cool, spread…and then garnish for the final flourish. Whew, a lot of steps.
But I love to present a stunning, decadent dessert and this one fits the bill.
It’s not hard…just takes time for all the steps. You could certainly take a few shortcuts by using a boxed brownie mix (gasp!) or purchasing premade brownies or even already cut squares of brownies at Costco (double gasp!!).
And you could simplify the crust by just using precrumbled, boxed graham crackers instead of crumbling an entire package of cookies.
And you could skip the sour cream layer altogether.
But then you would be taking away some of the layers of flavors and the ecstasy-inducing aspect of this dessert. So I would recommend just going for it all and impressing the heck out of everyone!
Note: I had envisioned a swirly design on the top made of white chocolate to contrast against the chocolate ganache, but alas, that didn’t work out quite as I had hoped. White chocolate actually has a yellowish tint rather than pure, sparkling white. And my white chocolate ganache was too thin; maybe I’ll just use melted white chocolate next time…
Anyhow, to save the disaster, I just crumbled some leftover brownie and sprinkled that on top. It looked fine and added a fancy-ish element.
Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake with Peanut-Butter Crust
- 2 cups brownies cut into 3/4 or 1-inch squares (I used the Chewy Brownies recipe from Cooks Illustrated)
- Brownie Tips:
- make brownies ahead of time and refrigerate for easier cutting
- use large pizza cutter to also make cutting easier
- use a recipe that calls for 8 or 9 inch square pan; otherwise, you will have leftover brownie (darn!)
- P.S. I saved the outer crust/edges, pulsed them using food processor into fine crumbs and froze for later use in a recipe of some sort or as sprinkles on top of ice cream
Peanut Butter Crust
- 16-oz. package of Nutter Butter cookies (or 32 sandwich cookies of your choice), pulsed in food processor into fine crumbs
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- Spray 9-inch nonstick springform pan with vegetable oil (can use 10-inch pan as well).
- Place cookies in food processor; pulse until very fine crumbs are created.
- Place crumbs in medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over crumbs, then use spatula to gently fold in butter.
- Press half the mixture into bottom of 9-inch nonstick springform pan. Use flat-bottomed drinking glass or ramekin to flatten crust, creating an even layer, and use the back of a spoon to press flat the bottom edges. Place rest of mixture in pan and pat up and around the edges of the springform pan, gently pressing into sides.
- Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
- 2 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 4 extra large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 425º.
- Beat cream cheese until smooth.
- Add sugar and flour, beating until blended.
- Beat in eggs and yolks until smooth.
- Stir in whipping cream and vanilla.
- Gently mix in the brownie cubes.
- Pour batter into prepared crust.
- Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 225º; bake 50-55 minutes, covering loosely with foil if browning too quickly. (FYI: Cheesecakes should register 145-150 degrees F when inserted with instant-read thermometer; when the internal temperature rises beyond 160 degrees, the tops will crack. For this particular recipe, though, the cracking won’t matter since the top is covered with a layer of ganache.)
Sour Cream Topping
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- In bowl, blend sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. When 50-55 minutes of baking finish, spread sour cream mixture over cheesecake. Increase temperature to 350 degrees F and bake 7 minutes.
- Cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 2 oz. semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped (use more chocolate for thicker ganache)
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla
- Scald cream in heavy saucepan over high heat.
- Add chocolate and vanilla; stir one minute.
- Remove from heat and stir until all chocolate is melted.
- Refrigerate glaze 20+ minutes (although this time when I made it the ganache was thick enough to pour on top without the cooling time whereas other times I’ve had to refrigerate it to thicken it).
- Pour ganache over top of cheesecake before removing it from springform pan. Decorate with swirls of melted white chocolate and/or crumbles of brownie. (Next time I’ll garnish with sliced strawberries, too.) Refrigerate and allow ganache to cool before removing springform pan.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
SOURCES: Brownie Mosaic idea adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker; cheesecake and ganache recipes from a high-school friend; brownie recipe from Cooks Illustrated
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