Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

From 6 Bittersweets
Adapted from Mike's Table

1 Graham cracker crust
24 oz cream cheese (low-fat is fine)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp honey
Ganache and toasted, chopped peanuts for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Crush about 7 graham crackers. As you can see from the collage above, I used the ziploc bag and rolling pin method. You can also use a food processor. Mix the crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar. Then pour in 3-4 T melted butter and toss together with a fork. Press this mixture into a greased or parchment-lined 9" springform pan and baked it for about 10 minutes at 350°F.

Let the cream cheese come to room temperature for about an hour. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until lighter in texture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition. Finally, add the cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, beating them all in. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat some more. The batter should be silky smooth and reasonably thick.

Now, divide the batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one plain. In the second, the flavor is peanut butter. Add the batter, peanut butter, and honey to the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat it well and set aside. In the third, the flavor will be chocolate. Melt the bittersweet chocolate chunks (30 seconds in microwave, stir, repeat until melted) and give it 30 seconds to cool down a bit. Beat the melted chocolate and cocoa powder into the batter (in the bowl of the stand mixer, of course).

With all three flavors ready, now all that remains is to assemble the cheesecake. The order you choose, doesn’t matter, but into the graham cracker crust, I poured the PB batter, smoothed it out, then the plain, and finally, the chocolate batter. Give the pan a tap in case there’s any air bubbles trapped in there (you don’t want them).

Now, set a pan (larger than your cheesecake pan) in the oven (which is at 350°F) and fill it with water. You want to bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 45-55 minutes (you want the center to have some jiggle to it, still). The water bath tempers the heat of the oven, helping to prevent your cheesecake from cracking. *I didn't have a large enough pan so I put a 9"x13" pan filled with hot water underneath the cheesecake pan instead. Lack of a proper water bath may be why mine cracked. I also left the oven on 10 minutes longer because the whole cake seemed too wobbly at 55 minutes. Once time is up, kill the heat, but leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour more before you remove it and let it cool down on the countertop. Once cooled down, let it sit in the fridge overnight before you grab your self a slice.

Optionally, now is a good time to top your cake with some ganache. To prepare the ganach, I poured 1/2 cup of boiling heavy cream into a bowl containing 1/2 cup of finely chopped chocolate, let it sit for a minute, and whisked until smooth. After cooling a bit, this was poured on top of the cheesecake. I finished the top with a handful of toasted chopped peanuts.