PB&J Cheesecake (with Mascarpone

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I’m all about combining food and nostalgia.  Taking something from my childhood, and making it decadent.  When each bite brings a happy memory, food is that much more enjoyable.

The pleasure with this dessert begins with the first whiff.  Before you even see it, you’re there: 6 years old, opening your lunchbox in class.  The sticky sweet smell of strawberry jam, the nutty smell of the peanut butter… before nuts were banned from school, of course.

For best results, always make cheesecake a day in advance.  Seriously.  Also- the hot water bath is so unnecessary.  I’ve never used one, and I’ve never had a dry cheesecake (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it).

Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese (always choose full fat, light won’t taste the same), room temp
  • 1 250g package of mascarpone (I chose this lighter cheese because I wanted the pb&j to shine)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp thickened cream (whipping cream), divided
  • 3 whole eggs, 1 yolk, room temp (room temp eggs bind batter better.  no matter what you’re baking, remove from fridge 1/2 an hour before baking, or place eggs in cup of warm water)
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (biscuits/biscotti/vanilla cake… you can be a lot more creative with cheesecake crust than we’ve been led to believe!)
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter (smoother or chunky, your choice)
  • 6 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries

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Directions:

Place rack in centre of oven and preheat to 350F (176C).

Grease springform pan.  You can use whichever size you’d like, just take into account: the bigger the pan, the thinner the cake, the shorter the cooking time :).

Using a food processor or a bag and rolling pin, make fine crumbs out of your cookies.  Melt the butter in pan over medium heat.  Combine the two in a large bowl, add salt.  Press into pan bottom, and slightly up the sides.  Bake 10 min.

Remove from oven and reduce heat to 320F (150C).  Allow crust to cool.

Cream together cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth and creamy (no lumps), using a large bowl and a hand mixer/stand mixer/whatever (honestly, I don’t even have a stand up mixer.  So, not a single recipe you find on my page will require one- for now.).

Add sugar, blend 2 min.  Scrape sides of bowl and blend for another 2 min.  Salt, blend, scape. Vanilla, blend, scrape. Sour cream, cream, lemon juice, blend, scrape. Beat in eggs and yolk, one at a time.

Wrap springform pan containing crust in tin foil.  I hate cleaning the oven, and this eliminates the risk of a little leakage.

Pour all but 2 tbsp batter onto crust and pop it into the fridge while you prepare the strawb jam and peanut butter.

Whip together peanut butter, 1 tbsp cream and reserved cheesecake batter.  Pop 3 tbsp strawberry jam into a bowl, and microwave it until it’s warm and runny. Slice all your strawberries, split into two bowls (one you’ll use for the topping).

Remove cheesecake from fridge.  Now, this is where you can be as creative as you’d like: push the strawberries into the batter. I popped mine in vertically, and in a ring shape.

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I then made a thick outer ring encircling the strawberries with some of the peanut butter mixture, plopped a heaping tablespoon right in the very centre, and reserved a bit to drizzle on top after baking.  I then made a circle just inside the strawberry ring with the jam.

Bake at 320F (150C) for 45 min, or until the top is golden, and most of the cake is firm when you move it (only the very middle jiggles a tiny bit).  After the 45 min, shut the oven off, open the door, but leave the cake in.  Cheesecake doesn’t like quick temperature changes (makes it crack).  After a few minutes, pull it out of the oven and onto a cooling rack.  Run a knife between the cake and the side of the pan to further prevent cracking (cake contracts when cooling).  Allow to cool at room temp for 30 mins.  Place in freezer for 2 hours.

Heat remaining jam and strawberries in a small pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until strawberries are softened.  Rewhip peanut butter mixture (if it’s not runny enough for drizzling, whip in a bit of milk).  Remove cheesecake from freezer, spread strawberry glaze evenly over cake. Drizzle peanut butter mixture over top.

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Stick it back in the freezer overnight.  Place cheesecake in fridge 1/2 an hour before serving.  I would recommend storing this cake in the freezer between servings, it gets mushy quite quickly.

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Wine Pairing: I’d suggest pairing this dessert with a dry, bubbly white, such as a Prosecco or Cava

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