I love baking all kinds of desserts, from cookies to cakes and a whole lot in between. But, cheesecakes are special. I can think of few things that are as simple to make yet as impressive to serve. Just the sight of a cheesecake garners much excitement and praise.
Recently, Philadelphia Cream Cheese asked if I would like to make a cheesecake to help kick off the holiday season. Of course, I said yes. When I started thinking about what kind of decadent cheesecake I wanted to make, I pretty quickly decided to go with peanut butter, and the rest just fell into place.
I decided to forego the traditional graham cracker crust for a pretzel crust. Pretzels aren’t my favorite on their own, but I love what their flavor and saltiness can do to a dessert. There’s a bit of brown sugar in this crust that makes it both sweet and salty.
The filling is wonderfully cream cheese-y and peanut butter-y. While I love flavored cheesecakes, I really want my cheesecake to taste like cheesecake. And, that’s exactly what this one does. It’s cheesecake with a wonderful peanut butter flavor. And, it’s a big, thick, significant cheesecake, too. I’m not messing around here.
Then came the question of how to finish it. Well, what goes better with peanut butter than chocolate? So, I added a simple chocolate drizzle. And, for a little crunch and some extra flavor, all of that is topped with some toffee bits. This is truly a decadent cheesecake worthy of a celebration.
I’ve been using Philadelphia Cream Cheese ever since I started baking. And, I’m not alone, because it’s been setting the standard for cream cheese since 1872. Philadelphia is my cream cheese of choice because of their product standards. It starts with fresh local milk and real cream, and ends as cream cheese in their refrigerators within 6 days. Their original cream cheese has no preservatives. And, they use real ingredients, like the pecans in their honey nut spread.
This holiday season, Philadelphia has teamed up with recipe and lifestyle experts to bring you delicious recipes and fun entertaining tips to make your holidays extra special. Be sure to visit CheesecakeCheer.com for some great recipes and tips and “bring out the silver” this holiday season.
- 2 cups (about 7 ounces) crushed pretzels
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 32 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons toffee bits
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.
Combine pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar until well mixed.
Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Press evenly into bottom of pan.
Bake for 10 minutes. Then, set aside to cool slightly.
To make the cheesecake filling:
Place cream cheese, brown sugar, and sour cream in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a handheld or stand mixer on medium speed, beat until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add peanut butter and mix thoroughly.
Pour filling into crust. and spread evenly.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 200°. Bake for 2 hours, or until the center is firm and the cheesecake no longer looks shiny or wet.
Remove cheesecake from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan.
Turn off the oven. Place the cheesecake back into the oven for 2 hours. Then, remove the cheesecake, cover, and chill overnight.
To make the topping: **
Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave at half-power in 30-second increments until the butter has melted and the chocolate melts when stirred.
Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the chilled cheesecake.
Sprinkle the toffee bits over the top of the cheesecake.
**Using this method of baking cheesecake, I've never had a problem with cracks. If yours should happen to crack, you can double the topping recipe and spread it over the top of the cheesecake.
Disclosure: Philadelphia Cream Cheese provided me with compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.