Around noon yesterday, my heart was pounding as someone was talking over the PA system at work. I tried to play it cool, acting like my work had to be done, even though it was my lunch break. However, I could sense my coworkers were listening in with anticipation too. I entered this recipe in a dessert contest at work earlier that day, and the results were being announced.
As they announced the winners of each category, I could feel butterflies flying around like crazy in the pit of my stomach. They announced the winners for cake, cookies, brownies, pie and then…miscellaneous. See, I don’t know what this torte would be considered. Pie? Eh, kind of, but it didn’t LOOK like a pie. Cake? Nope, shaped like a cake, but not a hint of spongey cake texture. So, I just placed it in the miscellaneous category, since this torte is in a league all of its own. For category’s sake on the blog though, I’ll call it more of a pie.
This was the first time I whipped cream and the first time I made a ganache. As I was making these two components, I remember watching Food Network and seeing all of the flops associated with attempting these components. Overbeating cream to a butter, chocolate seizing, etc. I was a bit of a worry worm, because this was a contest and I couldn’t mess up! To be honest, I have no idea why I was scared. Whipping cream was kind of fun to watch, and watched the gananche come together was delicious. I admit, I came close to drooling right into that glass bowl of deliciousness (but I didn’t, I promise).
I loved making this dessert. Peanut butter and cream cheese are usually rather heavy components in recipes, and as I was folding in the whipped cream, it significantly lightened up the filling. The dessert looks deceptively rich and decadent but because of the whipped cream, it is actually a fairly light feeling dessert. I think this dessert would be amazing for a nice ending to a summer dinner.
Oh, and tastewise? Well, this torte won first place in it’s category. I even have a little blue ribbon to prove it, and the bragging rights in the office. I think that speaks volumes on how amazing this torte tastes!
- 32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs
- 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Small pinch of salt
Crunch filling Ingredients:
- 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
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
- 2 tbsp. whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I just used 4 oz. of the mini chips)
- To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. 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, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and set aside.
- 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. 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, 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.
- Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 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 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 or mini chips, in my case, 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 and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, run a knife along the side of the springform to ensure nothing is sticking, and then remove the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.