Traybakes. If I’m honest, not something I really bake regularly. Preferring the lure of the layer cake, cupcake, tart and macaron I tend to leave the traybake for others to create. (I admit it, I’m a terrible terrible snob). I make the odd brownie now and again, but perhaps its the simplicity of the traybake that’s put me off – you know me, I like to create hard work for myself when it comes to sweet treats!
Just as well then that I’ve started this series of posts inspired by the Great British Bake Off – to push myself into baking new things. The result? This creation of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake brownies.
Fudgy chocolate brownie base, topped with a baked peanut butter cheesecake layer and then topped with a chocolate ganache and chopped with peanuts for crunch. Think if this as a weird interpretation of a Snickers / Reese’s Piece mixed with the peanut butter variation I had been planning for my Salted Caramel Cake.
For me, peanut butter is something you either love or hate. For me its a winner every time – there’s something about that sweet, salty and nutty combination that gets me every time, my crack, if you will. Just as well I’m self medicating my use of baked goods at the moment!
Again, the benefactors of these bakes were my work colleagues – the majority of them liked it I think, some didn’t but then again as I said earlier peanut butter is a love / hate / allergy thing so you can’t please everyone, even if I think they’re wrong :). If the thought of all this much sugar makes your teeth hurt, a layer of raspberry jam in between the brownie and cheesecake layer could work – some sourness to offset the richness of the peanut.
Although this does have a long winded name, this traybake is really easy to make – the layers are all baked at the same time and then the ganache is added once cooled. Its simplicity is disguised by the layers and the flavours that I think make it look more impressive than it actually is.
You could also mix up the flavours too if you don’t like peanut butter. Any baked cheesecake flavour would work – Hummingbird Bakery make a raspberry version, I’ve got designs on a white chocolate blondie and lemon cheesecake variant, oh and maybe a minty grasshopper pie version?
Perhaps traybakes don’t have to be so simple after all!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Makes about 30 x 1 inch square pieces
For the brownie
200 g dark chocolate (chopped)
150 g butter
225 g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150 g plain flour (sifted)
1 tsp baking powder
For the cheesecake
225g full fat cream cheese
100g smooth peanut butter
110g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
45g plain flour
50ml double cream
150g dark chocolate (60% cocoa)
150 ml double cream
A fistful of peanuts, chopped / whizzed up roughly in a processor
Preheat the oven to 170c and grease and line a 30cm x 23cm tray.
Start with the brownie mixture. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie / in the microwave (note, I tend to use the microwave by blasting the mixture in 30 sec bursts – don’t do this if you’re not used to melting chocolate this way as the mixture can seize). Take off the heat and then beat in the sugar, then gradually mix in the eggs.
Add the sifted flour and baking powder and mix through until combined and no traces of flour appear. Pour into the lined tin, leave to one side whilst you get on with the cheesecake mixture.
Beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined between additions. Mix in cream and then the flour, then pour over the brownie mixture. This cheesecake mixture will be quite light / thin so it will layer nicely over the brownie. Smooth the top over so it’s even and then bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. The edges should be slightly golden, but the middle should be slightly set but still pale.
Leave to cool on a rack completely in the tin – this will take a couple of hours at least.
To finish the brownies, Chop up the chocolate finely and place in a heatproof bowl. Set the cream in a small saucepan and bring to just about boiling point. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until all combined and glossy. leave to cool until of a spreadable consistency. Once spreadable, apply in an even thick layer over the top of the cheesecake brownie. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts, chop into bars (I made 30, but feel free to make bigger ones).
These keep for a good 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge, but they freeze well too.
Eat and let the sugar rush consume you!
Do you have a fave traybake?