Today is my birthday but this isn’t my birthday cake. On Saturday when I had a couple friends over for dinner I made what I had hoped would be a fudgey and gooey mud pie, but instead I got something resembling a crumbling & dry brownie. It wasn’t a good start to birthday week. Last night, I made a carrot cake that dipped a little in the middle but today I’ll frost it up with some decadent cream cheese frosting and no one will be the wiser. But this chocolate & peanut butter mousse tart is something entirely different.
I made this tart for my MIL’s birthday which was a couple of weeks ago. In fact, when I told my husband I’d be making carrot cake for my birthday cake, he scrunched up his face and asked if I wanted to make that peanut butter pie again. Sorry Cornelius, but if you ask again, I might make this for your birthday. It is an exceptionally dream-worthy dessert. And despite the steps involved, it was pretty easy to put together.
When I went trolling for recipes, I found some that called for peanut butter chips and Cool Whip and sugary peanut butter. What? Your Skippy or Jif or Kraft isn’t sugary? Once you’ve been eating natural peanut butter with your toast, you begin to realize just how much sugar is stuffed into your processed peanut butter. I grew up on natural peanut butter and while I fought it when I was a kid (I’d sprinkle my peanut butter with salt since my parents bought un-salted pb – ugh!), I love it now. But with the salt – I buy Adam’s salted and crunchy brand. For Cornelius, he likes unsalted & smooth. Anyway for this recipe, I decided to go au naturel or as much as I could get away with. My friend Mia had made something very similar (& so much better looking too), so I decided to give it a try. It was a hit. Clearly!
I reduced the sugar, used some graham cracker crumbs instead of chocolate wafer crumbs (since I had some on hand), and of course, natural peanut butter. To make things easy, I made the crust the night before before I started on the filling, a step I’d totally recommend again. The only real problem I had was making the ganache. I didn’t think it was possible to screw up something I’ve made so often, but I did. I broke the ganache. I guess that happens when you take hot melted chocolate and stir it immediately with hot boiling cream. Instead, you should just chill out a bit along with the melted chocolate and boiling cream and then whip a few minutes later. But thanks to Martha I found the solution: just stir in a teaspoon at a time of cold water. 5 teaspoons later and my ganache came out almost as good as new! Birthday tart saved!!
Anyway, I encourage you to make this tart. It’s not overly sweet but if you’re tempted to skip the ganache layer, don’t. I thought about it, but I think it would have been too bland without it. It needs the chocolate layer to add depth. You’ll have people asking you for the recipe along with requests to make it again. It’s a stunner. Now, I’ll just cross my fingers and hope that my own carrot cake is a winner too!
chocolate & peanut butter mousse tart
(adapted from here + here)
For the crust
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
5 T melted butter
2 T sugar
For the filling
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3 T confectioners sugar
1 tub (250 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature (I used a “light” spreadable cream cheese)
3/4 c confectioners sugar
1 1/2 c natural peanut butter (crunchy or smooth – I went with crunchy)
a pinch of kosher salt
2 T whole milk
For the topping
1/2 c heavy cream
4 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Callebaut)
1/2 c salted peanuts, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, use a fork to mix together the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and sugar until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of 10″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Carefully place tart pan onto a cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Cool completely before filling.
Using a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form, sprinkle in the confectioners sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Place bowl in fridge.
Replace the whisk with the paddle attachement on the stand mixer and in a larger bowl, beat the cream cheese with the 3/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, salt and milk until well combined.
Remove the whipped cream from the fridge. Using a large silicone spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until blended. Pour the mixture into the crust, smoothing out the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, covering with plastic wrap as soon as the filling firms up.
Make a ganache by putting the chocolate into a heat proof bowl or double boiler set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the bowl when the chocolate is melted and let cool for 5 minutes. Bring 1/2 cup of cream to a boil and pour over the cream. Let it sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly and then whisk until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.
Pour the ganache and spread over the tart, sprinkling peanuts over the top. Chill for at least 30 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.