From the Chef: Maple Peanut Butter Cheesecake

By Mark Marques

Yippee Kai Yay…..Oops, let’s start that over! Yeee-Haw!!!….Nope, does not feel right, how about Welcome Texas to the Informer Family network!
My editor asked me to come up with some recipes inspired by the Lone Star State! I thought, heck yeah and congratulations on the expansion into Texas! I have come up with three great dishes inspired by the great State of Texas.

They are simple, delicious and great served alone, together, or combine them with your other favorite recipes. The first recipe I designed was inspired by the Texan’s love of Beef! This appetizer is all meat, well, some marinade thrown in too! It is a delightfully delicious Bacon Wrapped Steak Bite that tastes a lot more complicated that it was to prepare. The second recipe pays homage to the amazing Armadillo. I came up with a Beef Pot Pie, but the crispy Puff Pastry crust is cut to resemble the shell of an Armadillo. This Armadillo Pie is simply delicious and is great for a center piece or make individual ones for friends and family alike.

The third recipe is truly decadent and will bring a smile to your face. It is a Maple Peanut Butter Cheesecake topped with Caramel and chopped nuts. The mousse like texture, along with the Sweet and Salty flavors of the cheesecake, will be an amazing treat for your mouth! I decided on this cheesecake because of the inspiration of “big things” in Texas. The over the top flavors of this cheesecake will evoke that very thought! It is one of my truly best recipes I have come up with and I am very happy to include it with along with all the recipes that were inspirations brought on in creating recipes for Texas.

The recipes will be published on Sunday, March 25 ( Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon Appetizers ), Wednesday. March 28 (Armadillo Pie) and Friday, March 30 (Maple Peanut Butter Cheesecake).

(As with all recipes read thoroughly and have all ingredients ready.)

Ingredients:

  • 5 1-lb packages of cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 18 oz. jar of maple peanut butter (Kroger makes it, but plain is fine.)
  • 5 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 box or two sleeves of Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies
  • ½ stick melted butter

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 jar of caramel ice cream topping (optional)
  • Chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and in a small metal bowl, fill with water and place in back of oven. (The humidity helps lessen the chance of the top from cracking. But if it does crack, it is not a problem.)

Crust:

In a food processor or using a meat mallet and a metal bowl, crush the cookies to a fine crumb. Stir in melted butter and pour into the bottom of a large spring form pan.

Spread loosely across the bottom of the pan. Take a flat bottom of a measuring cup and starting at the center of the crumbs, press down and work your way out to the edge in concentric circles, moving the pan as you go. Crumbs will build up at the edge and use the side of the measuring cup to press into the side of the pan. Place in refrigerator until needed.

Filling:

Using a Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl and hand mixer, beat the cream cheese at a medium speed for 5 minutes to soften and come together, stopping occasionally and scraping the sides of the bowl down. Be sure this is for 5 minutes; this will help the texture of the cheesecake. Add in the sugar and beat for an additional 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Add in the peanut butter and whip on medium high to incorporate the peanut butter into the cream cheese, stopping and scraping the sides down occasionally. Slow down to a medium low speed and add the eggs in one at a time. (Crack into a bowl first and then put in cream cheese mixture, less chances of shell bits or a bad egg ending up in your batter.) Add in the sour cream and salt. Bring up the speed to medium high and whip for 5 minutes.

Pour filling into refrigerated crust. The filling should come up just near the top of the pan, but not over flow the top. Place in your cheesecake in the center of the oven on a middle rack and place a sheet of foil or a cookies sheet on the next rack down, just in case there is spillage of the filling or if the butter from the crust leaks through the bottom of the pan.

Bake for one hour and rotate the cheese cake carefully after 30 minutes. When the full hour is up, turn off the heat and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an additional hour. When the second hour is up, remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool for a couple of hours.

Once cooled, mix the sour cream, sugar, salt and vanilla together for the topping; make sure the sugar is dissolved, and then pour onto the top of the cheesecake and spread it out evenly over the top. This will help to cover any cracks along the top of the cheesecake. It also makes for a beautiful smooth top. (I like to swirl caramel on top of the sour cream and sometimes for a crunch factor, top it off with chopped nuts.)

Take a thin knife and go around the outer edge of the cheesecake to help separate the cheesecake from the spring form pan before the hinge is released. This will help ensure that the cheesecake is loosened from the side of the pan. Slice and serve. (I like to decoratively drizzle some additional caramel on the serving plate before placing a cheesecake slice on it.

Cover and refrigerate any leftover cheesecake.

Tips:

If you want to try almond butter, pecan butter, hazelnut butter or Nutella instead of peanut butter, do so. I do not recommend sunflower seed butter. It will not work.

If you want to completely remove the cheesecake from the pan, line the pan first with parchment paper prior to making your crust. Slide the cheesecake onto a platter, remove parchment paper and present it with the caramel dripping down the sides.

Mark Marques

Mark Marques is a graduate of the New York Restaurant School in New York City. He graduated with Top Honors. Mark has several years of experience in the Restaurant industry starting when he was kid working at his parent’s Italian Restaurant, Ducci’s, in Colorado. After serving in the US Navy, Mark attended culinary school and went onto work in some of the busiest eateries in the New York City, including in the Lincoln Building, the Empire State Building, Times Square, the South Street Seaport and Pier 17. Mark has also run restaurants for Club Med as well in his current city of Las Vegas. Please feel free to contact Mark at this newspaper with any questions concerning food, liquor, beer, wines, and cooking tips.

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