Pastry chef Zac Young's PB&J Cheesecake combines peanut butter, grape with a dark chocolate brownie base to create what he calls a "playful, nostalgic, and indulgent dessert."
Young is the executive pastry chef of Flex Mussels Restaurants, a stand out in the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts, and frequent commentator for Cooking Channel's Unique Sweets.
- Active time: 2 hours
- Total time:5 hours
- For the Brownie Base:
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
- 4 ounces 100% unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2½ cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake:
- 2 pounds (32 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half with seeds scraped (discard pod)
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups smooth peanut butter (not natural-style)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For Garnish:
- 1 cup grape jelly
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 cup seedless grapes
- 12 Chocolate disks
For the Brownie Base: Preheat oven at 325°F. Line a buttered half sheet pan with parchment or foil. Set aside.
Put butter and chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool slightly.
Whisk sugar and eggs in a medium sized bowl or in a bowl of an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt until well incorporated. Pour batter in the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.
For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake: Prepare and set aside twelve 4-ounce silicone molds or disposable ramekins sprayed with non-stick spray.
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, vanilla bean seeds, and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in peanut butter, heavy cream, and salt.
Use a pastry bag to pipe the mixture into the molds or ramekins. Bake at 250 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, until center is barely set. Let cool for an hour then refrigerate for another 4 hours.
To Assemble: Gently heat the grape jelly in a small saucepan until it is easily spreadable and smooth. Brush some of the liquid jelly across each plate. Cut the brownies into squares or rounds and place on top of the grape jelly stripe. Carefully unmold the cheesecakes and place on the brownie. Spoon or brush some of the grape jelly glaze on top of the cheese cake. Garnish with fresh grapes, roasted peanuts, and a chocolate disc. Serve immediately.