I know, just by reading the title you have already gained about 5 pounds. But stick with me here.
One of the tough things about cooking and baking are that you have to constantly taste the goodies that you are making – which is an easy way to put on a few. But, it is all about balance. You can always add a few more minutes to your next treadmill run, right?
Recently when my parents were in town, I wanted to make something special for a big family meal. When cooking for other people, I tend to push out the cart when it comes to making rich recipes. The main dish was my semi-famous macaroni and cheese (you grab that recipe here) with homemade pasta (and grab that one here). So knowing how heavy that is, I wanted to make a tasty, but light, dessert.
This one takes a little time, but it is worth it! Let’s get started.
*1 Large Bag of Regular Ole’ Pretzels
*1 Tablespoon Vanilla
*3/4 Cup of Creamy Peanut Butter (substitute crunchy if you want more texture)
*1 Cup of Heavy Cream
*6 ounces of Cream Cheese
*2 Sticks of UNSALTED Butter
*1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
The filling of the pie is an absolute cinch, so let’s start with the tough stuff – making that crust!
First pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Dump the bag of pretzels in a food processor and reduce it to a coarse dust. Now you still want some chunks, so don’t make sand here. If you don’t have a food processor, keep the pretzels in the bag and bash with a rolling pin.
Melt one stick of butter and add to the pretzel mixture. Then toss in half of the brown sugar. You want the mixture to be sticky enough to form on the bottom of the pan. So if you need to add more butter, add it at a tablespoon a time. Then press the mixture into a large spring form pan to form a crust. Make sure that you have a solid even thickness. If you have extra, save and use to garnish.
Now pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the crust browns. Then remove and cool!
Now let’s make the filling. Pop the cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of butter, peanut butter, the other half of the brown sugar and beat together until it is light and fluffy. My advice, use a hand mixer for this one.
In another bowl beat the cup of heavy cream and vanilla until it is stiff enough to turn upside down and still stick to the bowl. When finished, incorporate it little by little into the peanut butter mixture. Then you have the filling done!
When the pie shell is room temperature, evenly spread the filling into the shell. Make sure to work carefully, as you don’t want pieces of the crust to mar the beauty of the cheesecake’s filling. Then cover and refrigerate…still in the pan.
I think it is best to make this the day before, as it sets beautifully in 24 hours or over night. When you are ready to serve, carefully take the pie out of the spring form and serve as is or with a bit of the extra pretzel bits sprinkled on top. Enjoy!