May 6, 2008

TWD- Peanut Butter Torte

I love peanut butter and I love chocolate, so I knew this was going to be a winner (Ina would say, "How bad can that be?"). I took it to a family lunch on Sunday and everyone loved it. For their sake (since some of them read this blog) I will say up front that while this dish was ridiculously fattening I did do a few things to help lower the calories. First, I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese. I use it for everything and didn't notice any problems.

Second, instead of using an extra 1/2 C. of heavy cream for the ganache, I made "Cashew Cream" from Enlightened Cooking by Camilla Saulsbury. This girl is a genius- I love reading her blog and can't wait to get her new book! Anyways, for the cream... Basically, you blend equal parts cold water and raw, unsalted cashews and you get cream! I couldn't tell the difference in my ganache and felt better about eating it! It was SO good I was dying to lick the bowl. I'll certainly do that next time I need ganache (but keep in mind for my friends with babies that they shouldn't eat nuts until they are two or three... so this is something you might overlook when you let your little on have a snitch of your dessert).

I made my torte in a standard springform pan and made a tartlet on the side so I could test it before taking the big one over, since I'm always a little nervous to take something I've never made before. I LOVED the tartlet and thought it was the perfect ratio of filling to crust, so next time I think I will make a full size tart and a wedge of that will satisfy as well as a piece of the huge pie did, so it will be even healthier (who am I kidding, less bad for you is more truthful!). Be sure to stop by TWD and see how everyones torte turned out and an extra thanks to Elizabeth for choosing this, I loved it!

Peanut Butter Torte
from Baking by Dorie Greenspan (go buy it, seriously!)
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping) (I left out about 1/2 C. and there was plenty still)
2 t. Sugar
¼ t. Cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ C. Mini chocolate chips
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender (I used about 35-40 oreos)
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used 7 T. to increase crust)
2 ½ C. Heavy cream (I used 2 C. cream, 1/3 C. Cold water, and 1/3 C. Raw cashews)
1 ¼ C. Powdered sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat Neufchatel)
1 ½ C. Peanut butter
2 T. 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. (I didn't need any butter with all the fat in the crust, mine came right out.)

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside. (I don't do coffee so I omitted the espresso and used just a tiny bit of nutmeg since I don't like it much)

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. (Mine needed about 20 minutes of baking, 17 for the tartlet)

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 powdered sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup powdered 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. (see directions below for Cashew Cream)

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.

Cashew Cream (adapted from Enlightened Cooking)
1/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup cold water
7 ounces good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Place the nuts and cold water in a blender and blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides. Blend at least 1-2 minutes longer until the mixture is smooth (mixture will be very thick; add 1-2 additional tablespoons water, if needed, to blend until smooth).

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and cool slightly. Stir in cashew cream, vanilla and salt until well-blended. Top torte with your "healthy" ganache, and enjoy!


  1. Yum, yum on the cashew cream. That stuff sounds wonderful(I am a cashew gal).
    Job well done on your torte.

  2. Your idea of the mini tart was brilliant. I took mine to a family get together as well with only the knowledge of what the mousse tasted like straight from the mixing bowl.

  3. That cashew cream sounds very nice! Great looking pie!

  4. Great job, Anne! I love the idea of the cashew cream. I'm going to file that away for later.

  5. The cashew cream sounds heavenly! I am going to have to check it out! Great job on your torte!

  6. Very clever modifications!

  7. Lucky family for getting to tear into this torte! The rest of mine is all full-fat, lying around in the freezer. Like Jabba the Torte.


  8. Oh my, I never thought of using nut milk, or cream, for ganache...that's so awesome! Good job!

  9. Great job - I love to hear about everyone's creative twists.

  10. Awesome looking torte! I've made cashew cream before (Cooking Light recipe for fettucine alfredo--yum!), but I never would have thought to use it in ganache.

  11. Great looking torte and well done using cashew cream!

  12. Great substitutions, and thanks for the tip about Enlightened Cooking.
    Madam Chow

  13. The cashew cream, I am going to have to try. Why is it that I never consider "lightening" up these recipes...I go for the FULL fat & calories & then want to kick myself! Great job!!

  14. The cashew cream sounds like a great idea!

  15. Looks and sounds great. Thanks for adding the tips about the ganache, I will have to try that sometime.

  16. This looks wonderful! I'd love to give cashew cream a try.

  17. Great idea for the cream on top! Looks lovely overall, hope everyone enjoyed it!

  18. The cashew cream sounds cool...I bet it gave the ganache an extra depth of flavor :)

  19. Cashew Cream! How brilliant are you? You know I need to try that now, and your torte looks lucious!

  20. It looks great and I love the cashew cream idea!

  21. Cashew cream is a great idea! Way to go "thinning" this dessert out!

  22. Yes, it was absolutely amazing. I would like another piece. Mine was too small! :o) Spencer loved it too! YUMMY! Thanks again!!! I have about seven months to look through that book and put in an order for my birthday! LOL.

  23. Thanks everyone for your sweet comments! It's so much fun doing this with so many nice peeps (and brilliant ideas from everyone else too... after I finish a recipe my book has notes written all over it for next time!)

  24. I was a recipe tester for the Food Network Ultimate recipe showdown, and actually tested one of Camilla's recipes. She's a hardcore recipe contest player. Nice pics!