Peanut Butter Torte

On my refrigerator is a list titled, Foods I will not eat! I started making this list about two years ago, to try and stop myself from eating things that I can't taste, due to my anosmia. What is the point, really, of consuming excess calories if the only satisfaction I get from them is a full stomach? The list is done in spurts, because if I wrote down everything I couldn't taste, I'd get depressed, basically, there would be nothing left for me to eat. At number 5 on the list, which I added last summer, is peanut butter treats, except peanut butter cups (yes, it is that specific). It's somewhat perplexing, then, that I chose to try my hand at this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for Peanut Butter Torte. It has 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter and 1 1/4 cups of peanuts, for crying out loud. On top of that, it is basically a cheesecake. I don't quite understand why she calls this a "torte" rather than a cheese cake, since that's exactly what it is. Maybe something can only be called "cheesecake" if it's baked, and this torte isn't. Maybe it's because the end result is not smooth and creamy like a cheesecake, but more like mouthful of peanut buttery cheese. I don't know, but rest assured that this is, most definitely, a cheesecake, just perhaps in an altered form. I'm not a cheesecake fan, and my husband won't even venture a nibble. So I spent about $10 and 2 1/2 hours total baking a torte for my co-workers. I hope they enjoy it. That being said, I actually could taste the peanut butter in this (see lots of peanut products description above), so I could add it as an exception to my banned foods list. Except this torte didn't really do it for me. I'm not opposed to cheesecake, I don't order it in restaurants, but if it's the dessert of choice at a party, I will take a slice. But like I said, this torte wasn't smooth and creamy like a cheesecake and, although Dorie refers to the peanut butter/cream cheese filling as a mousse, it was a bit thicker than that, without the light-as-air consistency. It really did taste like I had put a dollop of peanut butter on top of a scoop of cream cheese, and sprinkled some nuts and chocolate chips on top. I used whipping cream instead of the heavy cream called for, but I've intermixed the two before with not much difference. The lighter cream probably helped the mousse not firm up as much as it should have (note the drooping tip of my slice), but I don't think it altered the final outcome tastewise. I used double-stuff chocolate creme Oreo's in the crust to give it an extra bit of chocolate oomph. The crumbs didn't seem to be enough to go two inches up the sides of my springform pan, and my filling creeped up over the edge. To be fair, I've only made one other cheesecake in my life, and I had the same issue with the filling creeping over the crust, so it may just need to be something for me to practice. The mousse didn't ooze out after I'd removed the springform, as I'd originally feared. But if I made it again I'd probably use the entire package of Oreos - I'd rather deal with a thick crust than have the filling creep over the edge. The cake did look beautiful - my husband agreed that it looked fancy, and I don't think his comment was meant to placate me. But the chocolate ganache topping is way to thin - there's about 3 inches of peanut butter filling, and then the tiniest layer of chocolate on top. Maybe it wouldn't have looked so silly if the crust had come completely up the sides of the filling. But on my torte, it seemed more like a ridiculous afterthought. In the future, I'd do what some of the other bakers did, which is just sprinkle the top with peanuts and shaved chocolate.

Total Calories: 9847 (or 1,231 calories for a 1/8 slice, 615 for a 1/16 slice); Servings: Dorie says 6 to 8, but based on that calorie count, I'd say as close to invisible as you can get without actually eating air; Whisks: I'd give it 1.5, with the caveat that PB is on my banned list. For me, it totally wasn't worth the calories. Ingredients: 1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping); 2 teaspoons sugar; ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee); ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon; pinch of freshly grated nutmeg; ½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate); 24 oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender; ½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled; small pinch of salt; 2 ½ c. heavy cream; 1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted; 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature; 1 ½ c salted peanut butter, crunchy or smooth (not natural, I use Skippy); 2 tablespoons whole milk; 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

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. Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside. 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. 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 confectioners' sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed. Wipe out (no need to wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ 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 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 make topping, 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. 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. Note I didn't need to do the hairdryer/warm towel trick, mine slid right off. Refrigerate until ready to serve.