29 January 2012

Chubby Hubby Reinvention - Take #2

I got my baking groove on over the holidays and made some great treats. For Christmas I made one of my favorite desserts- chocolate bread pudding using panettone for the bread. It is beyond decadent! For dad's birthday (known to the rest of the world as New Year's Eve) we celebrated with peppermint chocolate cheesecake bars, a recipe I found courtesy of Pinterest, my obsession is paying off with very tasty treats. Then there were the neighbor goodie bags filled with puppy chow/muddy buddies/monkey munch - let it be known that by whatever name you call it -  I make the best, spritz cookies, homemade peppermint marshmallows, and candy cane hearts. And it wouldn't be Christmas without maple pecan sticky buns. No wonder I gained weight over the holidays, even though I gave most if it away. But the new year has started, I am setting the goal that I will get to a healthy weight this year with Project: {me}, I have teenage boys to keep up with after all, so it's not really an option. Yet it was hard to get back on track with healthy eating after so much indulgence. Not helping in the efforts was the leftover ingredients hanging out in my pantry and fridge. (Cream cheese makes my diet brownies taste so much better!) The only thing to do was make one last epic dessert using all the leftovers. I took stock of what was on hand, particularly those items that are a weakness and/or couldn't be stored in my garage pantry long term, out of sight and out of mind. I wanted to avoid buying any more ingredients to complete a recipe, the point was to get rid of things. I came up with this list: cream cheese, peanut butter, eggs, pretzels, chocolate chips. It was really just the eggs and the cream cheese I needed to get rid of, the pretzels are not a temptation but they would go stale, and then I'd just throw them out, and that is just wasteful when they could be made into something yummy.

Pondering that list and knowing the other things I had on hand I started thinking about a new reinvention of chubby hubby. This time instead of a cookie base, what about mainly cheesecake... mmm... peanut butter cheesecake, that's an excellent starting point. I delved back into Pinterest world to help me shape my idea. This is what I came up with: Peanut Butter Pretzel Cheesecake bars.  Will you allow me to brag for just a moment? These things are amazingly
I took the pan to work and they got rave reviews, it was a major hit with the guys, especially in the media department. The pan was empty before the end of the day, always a good sign.

Want to try them for yourself? Here is what you need.

Equipment: A stand mixer with the whisk attachment and food processor with  the metal blade.

2 packets of grahamies (or graham crackers to a normal person)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 handfuls of mini-twist pretzels
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 blocks of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup peanut butter (creamy will work best, and not the natural kind)
1/3 cup half n' half
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of half n' half
3 ounces of crushed peanuts
2 handfuls of mini-twist pretzels, broken into pieces

For the crust: In the bowl of the food processor, put in all the 'crust' ingredients except the butter. Turn it on and let it do its thing until the graham crackers and pretzels are obliterated into a sand like consistency. With the machine running, slowly pour in the melted butter through the feed tube. I would suggest doing it in two batches, stopping the machine in-between and scraping down the sides. After all the butter is added let it run a little longer to make sure it is all mixed together well. Once it seems mixed and about the consistency of damp sand and will clump together, dump it into a 9x13 baking pan, patting it into a nice even layer along the bottom. Bake it at 350° for 12 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool while you whip up the rest of the dessert.

For the filling: In the bowl of the stand mixer add the brown sugar, cream cheese and peanut butter. You might want to give it a bit of a start on the mixing with arm and spatula as the cream cheese and peanut butter are kind of thick at first. Once it is blended together add the rest of the ingredients and mix until it is well mixed and a little foamy. Remember to periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. When it looks ready, pour it over the crust. Bake at 350° for approximately 25-30 minutes - until the middle only sorta jiggles a little when the pan is wiggled. Let it cool before putting the topping on.

For the topping: In a microwave safe bowl, preferably glass or ceramic (I'm convinced plastic adds an odd flavor), add the chocolate chips, butter, and half n' half. Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir really well. Microwave in 10 second intervals until melted, smooth, and combined. Spread it over the top of the cooled cheesecake, moving quickly, while it is still warm press broken pretzel and peanut pieces into the chocolate.

Chubby Hubby inspired Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars!

(Notes: I used half n' half because that is what I had, but if I were making this again I would use sour cream in the cheesecake filling for a little more twang, maybe upping it to 1/2 a cup. The batter had a strong punch, but once cooked it was rather mellow. Also, the topping could have been better using heavy cream instead of the half and half, and a little more of it at that.)

No comments: