So my husband hit a milestone birthday this weekend, and he wasn’t too happy about it. So to help cheer him up I offered to make him a dessert of his choice. He loves cheesecake, and requested one with white chocolate in it, leaving the details up to me. I know he also loves peanut butter, so I searched for a white chocolate peanut butter cheesecake recipe and came up mostly empty. I only found a few recipes, and none of them were quite what I was envisioning. I wanted a base of white chocolate cheesecake, with some peanut butter flavor swirled in so that you could distinctively taste both flavors. So I decided to be adventurous and try to concoct my own recipe.
On Saturday I was all set to make the cheesecake so it would be ready for his birthday on Sunday. But the day didn’t go so well. My son had a massive temper tantrum right before taking his nap. He is most certainly not a perfect kid, and I am very much used to whining and mini fit-throwing, but it is very rare for him to throw a temper tantrum of this magnitude. It was of the type that we just had to walk away leaving him wailing in his bed, because we weren’t able to do anything else with him. After shedding a few tears of my own because I was feeling like a horrible mother, I was happy to escape to my kitchen to create a cheesecake.
I started with a peanut butter crust made out of crushed Nutter Butters. I didn’t add any butter to it because I felt like the peanut butter filling would be enough to help bind it together. I baked it at 325 for 7 minutes, which was a bit too long. Ooops. Nobody will probably notice though, so we’ll just move on. I mixed up my cheesecake filling, and divided the batter adding melted white chocolate and chopped Reese’s white chocolate peanut butter cups to the majority of the batter, and adding peanut butter to the other portion. Poured the batter on top of my crust, poured the peanut butter batter on top of that and swirled it in with a knife. The recipe I was looking at for reference said to bake at 325 for 55- 60 minutes. So I set my timer for 45 minutes so I could check on it early, popped it in the oven and walked away.
45 minutes later my timer went off, so I opened the oven and TADA!
My cheesecake looked exactly like it had when I had put it in the oven…in fact it kind of looked like it hadn’t baked at all. Which could be because I totally had not turned the oven on! I have a very severe case of Baby Brain going on right now… which is rather frightening. (I will spare you the details of all the crazy things I did this weekend. Not turning the oven on was just one of many… ) So I turned my oven ON this time, set the timer for another 45 minutes and went on my way, feeling a bit more frazzled than I had been.
45 minutes later my timer went off, so I opened the oven and TADA!
The UGLIEST cheesecake you have ever seen was staring back at me. It was severely over-baked, and cracked. We’re not talking little cracks, we’re talking about a crack rivaling the San Andreas fault right down the middle of the cheesecake. I had just completely ruined my husband’s special birthday cheesecake. Now not only did I feel like a failure as a mother, I was feeling like a failure as a wife and a baker too. The time in my kitchen was most definitely not therapeutic! I threw the cheesecake in the refrigerator and just left it.
The next day, feeling in slightly better spirits I pulled it back out and analyzed it. There was definitely no way to save this thing. (“Hmmm, maybe if I stuffed the crack full of chopped up Reeses peanut butter cups?”) We tried a little tiny slice of it, and if you could get past the burnt flavor it was actually pretty tasty. But there was definitely a very prominent burnt flavor. So I consulted with my husband who was still feeling bad about his birthday and needing cheered up. Eating a big slice of burnt cheesecake was most certainly not going to help with that. I offered to go buy him an ice cream cake vs. I could try again but the cheesecake wouldn’t be ready until the day after his birthday. He decided to give me a second chance.
This time I didn’t over bake the crust, and I remembered to turn the oven on. This time I set my timer for only 35 minutes, and when I came back my cheesecake was mostly baked already. I left it for a couple more minutes, then turned the oven off and let it slowly cool off in the oven. Unfortunately it did develop a few cracks as it cooled, but otherwise it was a much better looking specimen. (It actually looked like it might be a white chocolate cheesecake instead of umm caramel? or maybe pumpkin?) After it had cooled I chopped up some more of the Reese’s white chocolate peanut butter cups and sprinkled them over the top. Then I mixed together some peanut butter and melted white chocolate and drizzled it all over the top.
It ended up being pretty much what I was hoping for. Rich. Creamy. Gooey. Wait…gooey? Oh yeah, that’s because in my paranoia the second time around I seem to have under-baked it just a bit. Sigh. Fortunately it’s still mostly edible, so we’ve still been enjoying it. Both the white chocolate and peanut butter flavors were distinct. And I’m pretty sure that it could have done the trick at cheering up my husband if I hadn’t been obsessing about it. Even though I couldn’t manage to bake it for the correct amount of time, I think that it’s a recipe worth keeping and maybe going back to someday.
The lessons learned:
1. If you ever want to ruin a cheesecake just leave it in a warm oven for 45 minutes before baking.
2. I need to work on my cheesecake baking techniques to try to bake it appropriately and eliminate cracking.
3. I really hate the oven in my apartment. Oh wait, I already knew that one.
4. Second chances are a wonderful thing. Life seems to be full of second chances. As parents we often need to give second chances to our children, and probably just as often need our children to give second chances to us. Marriages also are chock-full of granting each other second chances. And God graciously gives us second chance, after second chance, after second chance…He never stops loving us or calls us a failure. This weekend my husband granted me a second chance to make him a yummy birthday cheesecake, and I gave myself a second chance to try my creation again after so miserably failing the first time. And even though sometimes second chances are very hard to grant…sometimes the results are very sweet!
Peanut Butter White Chocolate Cheesecake
1/2 package of Nutter Butters
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese
1 8-oz package of 1/3-less fat cream cheese
1 1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 tbsp. of flour
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/3 cup peanut butter
Reese’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter cups
1. Preheat your oven to 325. (This step is VERY important…see lesson #1 above). Crush half the package of Nutter Butters (approximately 15 cookies) and place in bottom of greased 9 inch springform pan. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until lightly toasted.
2. Beat together the cream cheeses until, then add in the sugar. Beat well. Add in eggs, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and flour. Mix well
3. Remove 1 cup of batter, and add 1/3 cup of peanut butter to it. Mix until well blended.
4. To the remaining batter add the melted white chocolate, and as many chopped white chocolate peanut butter cups as suits your fancy. I think I used 14.
5. Pour 2/3 of the white chocolate batter onto the crust. Pour the peanut butter batter on top, then cover with the remaining white chocolate batter. Swirl with a knife.
6. Bake at 325 for ? (Somewhere between 40 and 55 minutes or until middle is just set.) Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
7. Decorate the top however you would like! I used more chopped peanut butter cups and also mixed more melted white chocolate chips and peanut butter together to drizzle on top. (Didn’t measure it–sorry!)