Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

Serves 8-10
Adapted from Annie's Eats 

For the Crust:
32 Oreo cookies (about a 15.5 ounce package with some extra to snack on)
5 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

For the Crunch:
1 cup salted peanuts, finely chopped, divided (for the filling, crunch and topping)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg

For the Filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups powedered (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural, we used Jif)
2 tablespoons whole milk

For the Topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper (to make it easier to slide the cake off the bottom and serve on a pretty plate) and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a food processor until finely ground and well combined. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.

To make the crunch, in a small bowl combine a 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and set aside.

To prepare the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the heavy cream until it holds medium peaks.  Beat in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed. 

Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream just to lighten the cream cheese mousse mixture.  Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the filling firms up a bit.

To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second increments until the chocolate is almost melted. Stir vigorously between heatings and be careful not to burn the chocolate...the hot cream will melt the chocolate further. Bring the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes.  When the ganache is firm, use a very sharp, short knife and run it along the sides of the pan to loosen the crust a bit. Then, very gently remove the sides of the springform pan.  Slide the torte off the springform pan base very carefully onto a serving plate. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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