Last weekend Eric and I went to our new friend Elisa's apartment for a potluck-ish get-together. She made delicious shrimp-studded pasta for a main course.
There was never any question that I would be bringing a dessert as my contribution. It's odd, my identity here in Augusta is all wrapped up in my being a "baker." It's never been that before, I've always been "The Artist" or "The Local" or the "The Girl with Dreadlocks." (Yes, new-friends-who-know-me-as-baker, I had dreadlocks in college for awhile.) I'm sure the friend who've known me forever aren't surprised I've found a way to incorporate even more desserts into my life, but I'm not sure they trust my expertise as people here do :)
Anyway, as all I have been making is cakes recently, I thought I'd try a dessert of a different color for the potluck. I just got several new cookbooks in the mail, all of which I'm very excited about:
Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads
Jim Lahey's My Bread (this is the no-knead guy)
Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques
Dorie Greenspan's From My Home to Yours
And the last is where I got the recipe for this fantastic PB Torte, and the lemon tart I'll feature next. Lemme tell you, people went ape for it.
(Dorie's book is full of fantatic recipes, and she has a great blog, too)
The recipe says it serves 6-8, but I think really....more like 12. I'm not saying I wouldn't scarf down the 6 person size portion...but i probably shouldn't.
1 1/4 cups finely chopped salted peanuts (I only had honey roasted, so I used those and added a bit of salt to the filling)
2 t sugar
1/2 t instant espresso powder (I skipped this, it still tasted good)
1/4 t ground cinnamon
pinch grated nutmeg
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
24 oreo cookies, finely crumbled (food. processor.)
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled
small pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
12 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups salted peanut butter, crunchy or smooth but not natural
2 T whole milk
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 (this is just to bake the crust)
Mix the oreo crumbs, butter and salt together in a small bowl. Press it into the sides and bottom of a greased spring form pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.
Toss 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside. (This will be mixed into the filling later)
Whip 2 cups of heavy cream with a stand (with whisk attachment) or hand mixer until it holds medium peaks. Add only 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until it holds medium-firm peaks. Set the cream aside (in a new container, you'll need the mixer again)
With the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and remaining 1 cup powdered sugar until very smooth. Add the peanut butter, 1/4 cup chopped peanuts and the milk.
Use a spatula to gently stir in 1/4 of the whipped cream. Stir in the peanut/spice/chocolate mixture, then gently incorporate the rest of the whipped cream.
Scrape the mousse filling into the crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. I froze mine for a couple hour and it worked okay, but a longer refrigeration would be much better. My torte was kind of soft at the potluck.
Once the torte is set, heat the remaining 1/2 cup cream and pour over the bittersweet chocolate to create a chocolate ganache. Let sit for a minute and stir until very smooth. Pour it over the torte, and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup peanuts over the top.
Put it in the fridge for a couple more minutes to harden the ganache and remove the springform pan by either scraping a knife around the edges or circling a hot wet towel around the outside.
Serve and sigh with pleasure.