I’m spending the first week of June on a beach. And since I spent February overeating and April underexercising, I can’t spend May eating super rich desserts. Unless…it’s peanut butter cream cheese mousse on an oreo cookie crust covered with a layer of ganache and sprinkled with peanuts, which is what Elizabeth chose for this week’s TWD recipe. Even if each slice, according to Dorie’s serving size recommendation, has 1250-1650 calories. I think it’s safe to say that Dorie’s serving sizes are wacko.
Because Dave and I can only eat so much crazy-rich peanut butter torte, I made a quarter of the recipe in a 4-inch pan. A springform pan is really necessary for neat slices, but I don’t have a tiny one that will fit a quarter of the recipe and wasn’t willing to buy one.
For the first week since I joined TWD, no one had any real problems with this recipe. The crust ended up being too thin and most people had to grind up a few more oreos. (Based on everyone’s reviews, it sounds like you’ll need 32-40 oreos for a full recipe, depending on how thick you like your crust.) The peanut butter mousse involves nothing more than beating softened cream cheese and peanut butter together, then folding in some flavorings and whipped cream. There were some complaints that the mousse was too salty, as Dorie calls for chopped salted peanuts to be mixed in. I used half salted and half unsalted and had no problems, although I prefer my mousses to be totally smooth, uninterrupted by bits of peanut and chocolate. The ganache is a classic mixture of chocolate and hot cream. It’s a relatively small amount of work for an impressive dessert, especially if the people you’re serving it to don’t realize that basically every ingredient in it is primarily fat.
Actually, Dave and I got eight servings just out of our mini torte – so 32 servings for a whole recipe. It was a nice, and necessary, compromise between treating ourselves and controlling ourselves.
Peanut Butter Torte (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)
1¼ cup finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2½ cup heavy cream
1¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cup salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
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.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
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.
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 ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
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, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
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 mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Scrape the mouse 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 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 ½ 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.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.
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.