Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

Birthdays are only once a year, right? So you may as well celebrate with a rich, intense, torte. And oh my, does Dorie have a good one!

Hubby’s birthday is St. Patrick’s Day, so celebrations often include thick Irish beer, pub crawls, and other typical St. Paddy Day shenanigans. Not this year. Instead, he cooked Peking Duck for us and I made a chocolate peanut butter torte. But we did drink Murphy’s Irish Stout for the occasion.

This recipe is not something that should be consumed by just two people – it should be shared at a big party. But, our little one isn’t eating solids yet, so it was up to the two of us.

The recipe begins with an entire package of Oreos, combined with some butter, for the crust. The mixture is pressed into a spring form pan.

And the calories just keep adding up from there.

The filling consists of heavy cream, almost an entire jar of peanut butter, chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips, powdered sugar, and cream cheese. Oh my!

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All of that gets piled into the Oreo crust and then chilled.

Never fear, there is more! Next comes the ganache topping along with some chopped peanuts sprinkled on the top.

This was an incredible dessert – the heavy cream is whipped up and folded into the peanut butter and cream cheese, making it a bit fluffy. Who doesn’t love an oreo crust? And the chocolate ganache is just the icing on the cake. Really.

I would recommend this for a feast, but suggest you share with more than just one other person.

Previously, I’ve written about the Baked Alaska from Baking Chez Moi for my husband’s birthday. Other birthday desserts have included Dorie’s Devil’s Food White-Out Cake, Smitten Kitchen’s Car Bomb cupcakes (made in cake form), and one other that we simply cannot remember (must have been a good St. Patrick’s Day!).

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Almond Cloud Cookies

Every time we drive near Norwich, Vermont, I insist that we stop at the King Arthur Flour café and store. This occurs several times a year when we visit my father-in-law or just take a trip to Boston. And every time we visit I seek out Almond Cloud Cookies. I had seen the recipe on the KAF blog Flourish (what a great blog name!) and immediately added them to my list to bake. The cookies that we buy are chewy, almondy, and so delicious.

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The cookies that I baked were not at all what I expected. They spread out thinly and were a bit bland. I had used a King Arthur Flour recipe from their cookie cookbook with the name “Almond Clouds,” so you can imagine my surprise at what came out of the oven.

I had read both recipes and noted the differences, but didn’t expect such a different result. … I just discovered a recipe for “almond crisps” on the KAF website that matches the recipe in my cookbook – it is all making sense (months later… still behind on writing about all my baking).

But, enough about my disappointment. Perhaps it was simply because they were not what I was expecting that I consider this among my disasters. Maybe I would have thought they were a nice little cookie if I had a different image in my head.

The cookies were simple enough to whip up – simply mixing the ingredients together

  • dissolving the sugar in the egg whites

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  • beating in the melted butter

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  • and folding in the flours and flavorings

Then the batter is dropped onto the cookie sheet and baked.

They were difficult to remove from the cookie sheet, as mentioned in the recipe, but also particularly because they spread so much and bumped into each other.

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I look forward to trying out the other recipe sometime soon – and I will report back to let you know how it goes.

Potato Cakes

These little pastries are called potato cakes. They taste nothing like a potato, and indeed, do not have potato as an ingredient. Their name comes from their appearance: that of a dirty potato.

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a dirty potato cake on our beautiful china

The recipe is from Scandinavian Baking, my delicious new cookbook that I drool over.

I made these for Valentine’s Day. Yes, I am behind on writing. We’ve been busy with a few things, including writing another blog about our travels to Europe – (check it out! – afamilytriptoeurope.com) and of course our darling daughter, although I have still been baking, just not blogging.

The pastries are made up of a cream puff, filled with a pastry cream, and topped with marzipan dusted in cocoa.

The pâte á choux for the cream puff was not surprising. I have only made choux pastry a few times. It can seem intimidating when you don’t know what is involved, but once you give it a try, I think it is quite manageable.

The choux is composed of butter, flour, and eggs (with a tiny bit of sugar and salt). The mixture is cooked on the stovetop to form a dough.

The choux was then piped into three lines – two next to each other and one on top. The dough goes through a wonderful transformation in the oven, creating the well known cream puff (in an eclair shape). The moisture from the dough creates steam inside, causing them to puff up.

Once out of the oven the pastries need to have a little steam released. They also begin to deflate pretty quickly, but you will never notice  once they are filled.

 

Créme pâtissiére is used to fill the pastries. This filling is simply a pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. And pastry cream is a custard, basically a vanilla pudding. The only thing you really need to know about it is that it is delicious.

A vanilla bean is steamed in cream. Egg yolks, sugar, and corn starch are whisked together. A bit of warm cream is added to the egg mixture to temper it so the eggs don’t curdle. The mixture is then added to the cream and cooked over low heat until thickened.

The pudding is then cooled while whipping the cream. The whipped cream is folded into the pastry cream.

And the last piece of the potato cake is the marzipan. Trine recommends using marzipan made of at least 60% almonds. She also provides are recipe, which is simply ground almonds and powdered sugar mixed together to form a thick paste.

The marzipan is then rolled out and cut to create circles. The circles are then rolled out to an oval shape for placing on the pastry. The marzipan ovals are dusted in cocoa powder before completing the cake.

The potato cakes were winners, and definitely a special treat for Valentine’s Day. We had extras, so I made some neighborhood deliveries to friends.

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