The Young (or Young At Heart) Birthday Cake

I thought about saving up the birthday cake recipes for one big birthday blog blitz at the end of February.  But I need a little birthday today.  There’s more snow in the forecast for tomorrow, driving today has posed numerous challenges, friends’ pipes are freezing and bursting after a spate of cold, and – wait for it – the season is only one-third over!

I either write about cake or take to my bed until April 1.

Of course, hilarious blog entries, like this one today from The Roving Home, may get me through.

But so will birthday cake.

My son has two frequencies when it comes to birthday cake: something made with ice cream, or something made with peanut butter and chocolate.  This year’s pick artfully combines all of his favorite components.  Meet Frozen Peanut Butter Pie.  The young love this cake, but so do the young at heart – those of us who carry the torch for lunch bag peanut butter sandwiches or a surreptitiously savored Halloween peanut butter cup.  Part ice cream, part mousse, part cheesecake, Frozen Peanut Butter Pie is a delicious winner.

For the crust:

  • 1 package Famous chocolate wafer cookies, made into crumbs (use a rolling pin or food processor)
  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened (I use the 1/3 fat variety, also known as Neufchatel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla

For the glaze:

  • 6 ounces good quality 67-72 % bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli chips), approximately 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped (optional)

To make the crust, combine the cookie crumbs with the butter.  Mix to blend.  Press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Chill the crust in the freezer until ready to fill.

To make the filling:  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,  beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it is smooth.  Add sugar, peanut butter, and melted butter, and blend on medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally.

Place the chilled whipped cream and the vanilla in a separate small bowl and beat with a hand mixer until the cream forms stiff peaks.  Spoon a bit of the cream into the peanut butter mixture.  Set the stand mixer at its lowest speed, and using a pulsing action, gently incorporate the small amount of cream.  This lightens the heavier peanut butter-cream cheese mixture, making the next part of the process a little easier.

Remove the bowl from the stand and gently but thoroughly fold the rest of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to make a mousse-like filling.  Spoon the filling into the chilled crust.

Gently smooth the top flat with the back of a spatula, loosely cover the top of the pie with plastic wrap, and freeze it for at least 2 hours, or until filling is solid.

To make the glaze, place the chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate if using chocolate from a solid bar) in a small heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to boil, then pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate.  Stir with a rubber scraper until the chocolate has melted and it is smooth and glossy.  Set aside to cool a bit.  The ganache will thicken as it cools but should still be pourable to glaze the cake – do not let it sit too long.  Spread the glaze on the frozen pie, sprinkle with chopped peanuts if desired, and freeze again for an hour or until serving.

To serve, run a knife quickly around the outer edge of the cake, then remove the outer ring of the springform pan.  Slice (a knife dipped in hot water works well for clean slices) and serve.

©2011  Jane A. Ward