It’s that time of year to share Josh’s Birthday Cheesecake. For the past dozen years I have made the infamous cheesecake for Josh. He is one who stands by tradition and every birthday his cheesecake must have chocolate and it must have peanut butter cups. Each year I try to change it up a bit . . . sometimes it comes out amazing . . . other times it doesn’t. This year was a complete success! We all enjoyed having a bite or two of these little cheesecake squares without all the guilt. Celebrating several birthdays right after the holidays can make for sugar overload if you know what I mean. When I dipped each square in chocolate it was like each piece had it’s own personality. Some would drip down the sides while others would harden instantly. They have a decadent flavor followed by a melt in your mouth sweetness. Your taste buds will definitely smile!!
Line an 8″ x 8″ square baking dish with aluminum foil. I used the non-stick Reynolds Wrap and it worked amazing. If you use regular aluminum foil it would be wise to spray non-stick cooking spray to avoid the cheesecake from sticking. Pour the graham cracker crumbs into the prepared baking dish.
Whisk the mixture until it is smooth and creamy. It took several minutes before I was happy with the texture. Scrape the bottom of the bowl in between, there may still be little lumps of cream cheese that need to be incorporated.
Pour the cream cheese filling over top of the peanut butter cups. I filled a large baking sheet with water about half way up the sides of the pan and place the 8 x 8 pan to fit over top. This helps the cheesecake cook more evenly and preserve your top crust from cracking. Bake at 350 for 35 – 40 minutes or until cheesecake is set. It may still jiggle a bit in the center but that’s okay. Turn off the oven and open the oven door just a crack and let the cake cool to room temperature for 1 hour. Once the cake has cooled sufficiently, cover the top with aluminum foil and place in the freezer overnight or at least 3 – 4 hours.
I made a makeshift double boiler by placing a medium mixing bowl on top of a medium pot filled with simmering water. Add 1 cup of Ghiradelli dark chocolate wafers with 2 tablespoons of Crisco baking sticks. Melt chocolate slowly while stirring until you have a smooth chocolate sauce for dipping.
1 1/2 – 2 cups Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/4 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs (1 wrapped package of graham crackers)
4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
1 tablespoon Sugar
2 packages Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce
1 cup Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Wafers
2 tablespoons Crisco (I used the baking sticks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line and 8 inch square baking dish with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or use non-stick aluminum foil. Pour the mix into the prepared baking dish and press down with your fingers to make the bottom crust. Bake for 7 minutes or until crust is set and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let crust cool.
To make graham cracker crust, place 1 wrapped package of graham crackers in a food processor along with 1 tablespoon of sugar and melted butter. Pulse until well blended.
To make the cheesecake filling, add softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Use the whisk attachment to whisk the cream cheese until it is softened and fluffy.
Add the sugar, sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to avoid little lumps.
Once your graham cracker crust has cooled, place mini peanut butter cups one by one onto the crust in a single layer.
Pour the cream cheese filling over top of the mini peanut butter cups. Place baking dish over top of a 13 x 9 baking dish filled halfway up the sides with warm water. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or just until the filling is set and just barely jiggles in the center. When the cake has finished baking, turn off the oven and crack the oven door and allow the cake to cool to room temperature for 1 hour.
When cake has sufficiently cooled, cover with aluminum foil and place in the freezer overnight or at least 3 – 4 hours.
Lift the frozen cheesecake out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Peel away the aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to slice through the cheesecake to make 36 squares.
Use a double boiler or make one by placing a medium glass mixing bowl over top of a medium pot filled halfway with simmering hot water. Stir the wafers and crisco as they melt. It should drip easily from your spoon.
Dip cheesecake squares, one at a time, into the melted chocolate. Place on a a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If the cheesecake squares are too soft, place in the freezer for a few minutes to help with the dipping process. The chocolate should harden rather quickly. Place any uneaten cheesecake bites in the refrigerator.
Makes 36 squares