PB&J Cheese Cakes

While waiting for Little Miss Clarey to wake up from her very very long nap, I decided to clear out the fridge. Out goes the half used, jumbo package of cream cheese from Costco. Wait a minute, didn’t I also have a sensible 8 oz package of cream cheese? Found it after more rummaging! It expires in…2 days. Need to use it now!

My regular go-to cheese cake recipes requires 3 packages of cream cheese and anyway I don’t have any heavy cream, maybe it’s time to try a new recipe. Food Network’s Peanut Butter Cheese Cake Minis looks good except that I don’t have any peanut butter cups (my most hated candy, just because). I do however have lots of natural peanut butter AND graham crackers that I want to get rid of so maybe I can make something work. Well it did work, except that I wasn’t very happy with it so even though I did manage to use the cream cheese, peanut butter and graham crackers (woohoo!), I bought more of them for trial 2, 3 and 4…

Click here for the final recipe

Trial 1: Piped peanut butter into the cheese cake batter

Ingredients (6 regular cupcake sized cheese cakes)

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅛ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 3 white chocolate chips and 3 dark chocolate chips

Method

I can’t help reducing the amount of sugar in recipes and the safest bet for this recipe seems to be eliminating the sugar in the crust since most graham cracker crusts recipes don’t require sugar at all. So my crust was just a simple mixture of graham cracker crumbs and butter, pressed into 6 of my special (alright, they are from Safeway) foiled cupcake paper liners. They look a little crumbly but I decided to leave it and judge after baking instead of adding more butter at this point.

Preheat oven to 350 °F (note to self: 370 °F on Wright Ave’s oven).

For the cheese cake batter, I beat the cream cheese at speed 8 on my KitchenAid mixer for 1 minute, then mixed in the flour, sugar and vanilla extract at speed 6 for another 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through mixing. The egg was also beat in at speed 6 till the batter was well mixed. I then divided the batter into the 6 graham cracker crusts, there was enough batter for 1 more cupcake so I just poured that into another liner.

To insert the peanut butter into the cheese cake batter, I spooned the peanut butter into a piping bag, put on a tip and SQUEEZED away. Not such a bright idea. The thick peanut butter didn’t get piped out easily and I had to use a knife to scrape the peanut butter off the tip to end each dollop.

Oh well, finally each of the 6 cheese cakes got some peanut butter ( I left the crustless one plain). I placed a chocolate chip on each just for fun and in they go into the oven for 20 minutes.

Results

2 cheese cakes

The cheese cakes looked fluffy and soft out of the oven. I tried one once they have cooled for about 15 minutes since the recipe didn’t call for any refrigeration. Hmm..I wasn’t very impressed, it just tasted like an extremely sweet but otherwise tasteless sponge cake. Oh well, I decided to stick them into the refrigerator since I do usually prefer my cheese cake cold.

3 hours later, I tried another one and it tasted much better cold. The cheese cake’s texture firmed up and the tangy cream cheese flavor could be discerned.

I LOVED the peanut butter in the cheesecake, it added such a nice surprise to boring old cheesecake but I just wished that there was more of it! I want each bite of my cheesecake to have some peanut butter, but Chris (the guy in my life who I have to try very hard to please) thought that  having peanut butter throughout might make the cheese cake too heavy. My brilliant idea: let’s make it his favorite, PB&J. That should make the peanut butter less dry.

They weren't great but we still polished them off.

They weren’t great but we still polished them off.

The crust was a little too crumbly for neat eating so Jazzie had too great a time vacuuming up the crumbs under the table.

Trial 2: Spread peanut butter and blue berry jam on top of the graham cracker crust

Modifications

1) The cheese cake itself is a little too sweet for me and since I’m going to be adding blueberry jam, I decided to reduce the about of sugar in the batter by 25%.

2) I will also add ½ tbsp more butter to the crust to take the joy of if Jazzie’s life and of course add some blueberry jam to the peanut butter and spread it across the whole crust.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
  • ⅜ cup sugar
  • ⅛ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter mixed with 1 tbsp blueberry jam
  • 3 tsp of blueberry jam

Method

Graham cracker crusts

I crushed the graham crackers and added the extra ½ tbsp of butter before pressing them into the cupcake liners.

PB&JTasting as I go, I settled on the proportion of 3 tbsp peanut butter to 1 tbsp blueberry jam for the PB&J mixture. Instead of messing about with the piping bag, I just spooned the mixture directly onto each crust and smoothed them out with the back of the spoon. For 3 of the crusts, I added an extra teaspoon each of jam on top of the PB&J mixture, just to test if more jam makes things better.

The cheese cake batter was prepared as before, though with less sugar. This time, there was enough batter for 8 cheese cakes (6 with crusts and PB&J, 2 plain). In they go again into the 350 °F oven for 20 minutes.

Results

Tada! Products from round 2, after refrigeration.

Tada! Products from round 2, after refrigeration and after a few disappeared into my tummy.

I used the positions of the chocolate chips to mark the different kinds of cheese cakes here. Extra jam = choco chip in the middle, no extra jam = choco chip to the side, plain = no choco chip.

Chris didn’t care if the cheese cake had extra jam, just PB&J was enough to make him happy! I preferred those with extra jam but overall I still felt that even more jam would make things even better.

I also loved having PB&J in every bite but the problem was that with the crust and thick layer of PB&J, there weren’t much cheese cake at all in each small cake…

Trial 3: Less crust, more jam, more cake

Modifications

1) Instead of using 10 graham cracker for 6 crusts, I shall use 8 graham crackers (60g) for 8 crusts. The amount of butter for the crust shall remain the same (higher ratio of butter : crackers) for even better binding.

2) Thicker cheese cake layers by dividing the cheese cake batter between 8 cheese cakes with layers of crusts and PB&J, instead of 6 crusted,PB&J cheese cake and 2 plain cheese cakes.

3) More jam per cake by changing the PB&J mixture to 2 tbsp peanut butter and 2 tbsp jam.

Ingredients

  • 60 g graham cracker crumbs
  • 2½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
  • ⅜ cup sugar
  • ⅛ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter mixed with 2 tbsp blueberry jam

Method

Only managed to prepare the crust and PB&J mixture before Little Missy woke up

Only managed to prepare the crust and PB&J mixture before Little Missy woke up. Oh well, the cream cheese needed time to warm up anyway.

Crushed the graham crackers and mixed them with the melted butter.

Next, I mixed the PB&J.

I over stirred the PB&J mixture a little, the mixture was a much more attractive swirl of brown and purple before I gave it another two stirs…

Pressed the graham cracker crusts (graham cracker crumbs and melted butter) into 8 cupcake liners and dropped ½ tbsp PB&J mixture on each.

Whipped up the cheese cake batter as before and scooped them into the liners

Decorated with chocolate chips because I like chocolate. Shove them into the 350 °F oven before Clarey burst into tears.

Yay! Looks much better after cooling and 3 hours in the fridge.

Results

Look at the pretty layers!

Look at the pretty layers!

I’m pretty satisfied with the product for this trial. There is a nice balance between crust, peanut butter, jam and cheese cake and I know this is really pretty good because cH and I still find this good after having at least 6 cheese cakes each in the past 2 weeks! Off to the pool I go after posting the final recipe.

FINAL RECIPE (for now)

8 cheese cake minis

  • 60 g graham cracker crumbs (1 pack of Honey Maid fresh stack)
  • 2½ tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
  • ⅜ cup sugar
  • ⅛ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter mixed with 2 tbsp blueberry jam
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Mix the graham crackers crumbs with the melted butter and press them into 8 cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
  3. Mix the peanut butter and jam, do not over stir for pretty swirls. Spoon ½ tbsp for each crust.
  4. Beat the cream cheese at high speed till fluffy (speed 8 on my KitchenAid for 1 minute), then beat in the flour, sugar and vanilla till well mixed (speed 6 for 40 seconds, scraping down the sides halfway). Beat in the egg till well mixed (speed 6).
  5. Divide the cream cheese batter among the 8 cupcake liners, decorate with chocolate chip if desired.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, chill before serving.
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