Sunday, April 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Torte

I've had my eye on this recipe for quite sometime.  Unfortunately, since my husband does not like peanut butter desserts, I just knew that if I made this torte I would end up eating way too much of it myself.  Luckily, I had a fun ladies-only potluck to attend so I decided to give this a try.  The peanut butter mousse was light and fluffy and oh so rich at the same time.  This is a decadent dessert and will make peanut butter fans swoon.

Adapted slightly from Dorie Greenspan - Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 1/4 cups finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
32 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Small pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

1. Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

2. Toss 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter, and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

4. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

5. Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts, and the milk.

6. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut chocolate chip mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

7. 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.

8. To Finish the Torte: Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl 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 remaining 1/2 cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy. (My ganache was really runny so I let it sit for a while until it thickened). Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

9. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Double Dark Chocolate Shortbread

I generally enjoy shortbread, but had never had chocolate shortbread before trying this recipe.  The cookie had a nice crumb and was not too sweet.  I used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips which provided a nice contrasting smooth and creamy texture.  The recipe only makes about 12 cookies, so double it up if you want more.  These would make any true chocolate lover happy.
Adapted slightly from Great Island

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

2. Put the flour, sugar, pinch of salt, and cocoa powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine well. 

3. Drop in the butter and vanilla and pulse until the mixture just comes together.  

4. Stir in the chocolate chips and turn the dough out onto a board and form into an 8" log.  

5. Wrap it in waxed or parchment paper and twist both ends to secure.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.  You can also freeze the dough for later use. 

6. Slice the log into 1/2" slices with a sharp knife. 

7. Put on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven at 325 for 12 to 15 minutes.  They will feel slightly soft, don't over bake them. 

8. Cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer to a rack.