I’ve been trying to recreate the Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes. I saw that they had a ‘Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake.
Apart from the name being unnecessarily long, everything else about it looked amazing, so I wanted to make it. We don’t have Cheesecake Factory in the UK, so I don’t know if mine is exactly the same as theirs, I’ve never tried it. I just took inspiration.
MINE TURNED OUT SO GOOD THOUGH, the flavour, the texture, the smell, it was all perfect.
Breakdown of the process
I have to admit, making this cheesecake is a lot. There’s a lot of steps, there’s a lot of different elements, and it needs to be made over 2 days.
It is so worth it in the end, but it is a long process.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what we are going to do:
- Make the ganache – we’re making this first because it needs time to set, and also it’s the quickest thing to make, so we might as well get it out of the way.
- Make the cake layers – next we’re going to bake the cakes, let them cool, then take them out of the tins, wrap them and leave them in the fridge overnight.
- Make the cheesecake layers – the cheesecake layers are the main reason why we need to do this over 2 days, these NEED to be left to set in the fridge overnight. So after the cakes have been made, make your cheesecake layers, let them cool, then leave them in the fridge, whiles still in the tins.
- Whip the ganache – the ganache has set at this point, so just whip it and leave this aside.
- Take your set cheesecake layers out of tins.
- Now assemble and decorate – stack your cake and cheesecake layers, then ice the cake with the ganache and decorate however you want.
Again, I know it might seem like a lot, that’s because it is. But it is very much worth it.
The first thing we are making is the ganache.
For this all you need is:
- Milk chocolate
- Double cream – also known as heavy cream.
- Unsalted butter – this is going to add extra flavour and some softness to the ganache.
All you need to do is heat these ingredients together until the chocolate has melted, then leave this to set at room temperature.
I went with milk chocolate ganache, if you wanted to use a white chocolate one, you could. Personally, I think it would be too sweet, but you could. Just replace the milk chocolate with white chocolate.
If you wanted to use dark chocolate, you also could. However, in the recipe card below, I’ve said to use 150ml of cream. If you’re using dark chocolate, make sure to use 300ml instead. The ganache will be too thick if you only use 150ml.
Whipping the ganache
Once the ganache had set, I whipped it.
I like to whip my ganache, it just makes it lighter and fluffier, which I think tastes much better.
To do this, you literally just whip it. It is a lot easier to do with an electric hand or stand mixer, but a regular whisk will work too.
Just whip it until it lightens in colour and looks fluffier.
This doesn’t take long at all, it might take less than a minute. As soon as it looks lighter, it is done. Try not to over whip it, otherwise it can turn grainy.
The chocolate cake layers
The next thing we are going to make is the chocolate cake layers.
These could be made on day 2, but it will be so much easier to get everything made on day 1. Then on day 2 you can just decorate, you don’t have to worry about baking anything.
Here are the ingredients you are going to need to make the cake batter:
- Cocoa powder – unsweetened cocoa powder is always best to use.
- Hot water mixed with coffee – the hot water is going to hydrate the cocoa powder, which will intensify the chocolate flavour. The coffee is also going to intensify the chocolate flavour.
- Oil – for moisture. I use vegetable oil, but any flavourless oil works.
- Buttermilk – also for moisture.
- Plain flour – also known as all purpose flour.
- Sugar – I used a mixture of brown and white sugar. The brown sugar is going to add moisture and some extra flavour.
- Baking soda – to help the cakes rise.
- Vinegar – this is going to react with the baking soda, which will give the cake an extra lift, making it fluffier.
Leaving the cake layers in the fridge
After the cakes have baked, we’re going to take them out of the tin, wrap them, and leave them in the fridge overnight.
If you are worried about the cake becoming dry, you don’t need to be.
I feel like this is a misconception. As long as you wrap the layers well, the cake will not go dry in the fridge.
There are a few ingredients that I used in the cake batter, that I typically get asked if there are any substitutes for.
So let’s talk about them:
A lot of chocolate cake recipes have coffee added into them, all it does is intensify the chocolate flavour.
It doesn’t make the cake taste like coffee at all, so you don’t need to be worried about this.
But if you did want to leave it out, you could, the cake will still taste great. Just make sure to still add the hot water.
Cakes typically need some kind of fat. This can either be butter or oil.
Butter adds flavour to cakes, whereas oil adds a lot of moisture.
When it comes to chocolate cakes, chocolate is a very overwhelming flavour, so butter doesn’t add much flavour to the cake. So I like to just use oil, this way I can get that extra moisture.
I use vegetable oil, but any flavourless oil works.
If you wanted to use butter though, you could. Just melt 200g of unsalted butter and use this instead.
I add buttermilk to this cake batter, mainly for moisture. But also the acidity in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda as the cakes bakes. This helps them become more fluffy.
If you didn’t have buttermilk, plain natural yoghurt is the best substitute. Most of the time I just use yoghurt.
Or instead you can make a buttermilk substitute by mixing together 120ml of whole milk and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Leave this aside for 10 minutes, then it is ready to use.
However, buttermilk or plain yoghurt are the best two ingredients to use.
That last step in making the cake batter is to mix some baking soda and vinegar together, in a separate bowl. Then you add this into the cake.
This is something that is typically done in red velvet cakes. Essentially, the vinegar reacts with the baking soda, which gives the cakes an extra lift as they bake.
This gives them a fluffier, velvety texture.
I use white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar also works great.
Or if you didn’t have either, you can use lemon juice, but vinegar does work best.
The cheesecake layers
Ok now onto the cheesecake.
For the cheesecake layers, I just used a vanilla cheesecake but I added some peanut butter to it, for peanut buttery flavour of course.
And then I also chopped up some Reese’s peanut butter cups and folded these into the batter too.
I was actually a little worried about adding the peanut butter cups, I thought they might melt and ruin the texture of the cheesecake, But they worked out well.
Extremely well actually, I loved the way they tasted inside of the cheesecake.
Here are the ingredients I used for the cheesecake:
- Peanut butter cups – I used 10. I don’t know if Reese’s peanut butter cups are different sizes in different places, but it doesn’t really matter. Use as many as you see fit.
- Cream cheese – make sure to use full fat cream cheese.
- Peanut butter – I used smooth peanut butter, but crunchy works too.
- Granulated sugar – caster sugar also works.
- Corn flour – also known as corn starch.
- Vanilla extract – for flavour.
- Double cream – also known as heavy cream.
- White chocolate – this is not going to make the cheesecake taste like white chocolate. It is just there to help with the texture of the cheesecake. So make sure to add it.
A few tips when making the cheesecake layers
Mix the batter gently
We don’t want to incorporate too much air into this cheesecake batter.
So when making it, mix gently throughout the whole process. You don’t need to aggressively whip it.
Use warm cream
Once we have added the cream into the batter, the next step is to mix in the melted white chocolate.
If the cream was too cold, the batter will also be cold. So once you add in the white chocolate it will set up straight away. We don’t want this.
So it is better to use warm cream.
Just heat it in your microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Let the cheesecake cool in the oven
Once the cheesecake layers have been baked, I recommend turning the oven off, opening the door slightly, and then letting them cool in their for about 30 minutes.
Basically, cheesecakes are dramatic, they don’t like sudden changes in temperature.
So if you take them out of the oven straight away, they can end up cracking.
It is better to leave them to cool down slowly!
Assembling and decorating
Now that everything has been made, and the cheesecake layers have set overnight, the hard part is over.
We can now stack the layers and decorate.
To stack them, I just did a layer of cake, cheesecake, a layer of peanut butter, then I added the final layer of cake and cheesecake.
I think cheesecake factory adds a caramel sauce at some point too. I left this out, I didn’t want my cheesecake to be too sweet. So I skipped the caramel but if you wanted to add some, you could.
After stacking the layers, I iced the whole thing with the ganache, I covered the sides with some chocolate sprinkles, then I added whipped cream and some peanut butter cups on top.
After 2 days of a lot of effort, the cheesecake is now done, have a big slice you deserve it!
- For the ganache:
300g milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
150g double cream
50g unsalted butter
- For the chocolate cake layers:
50g cocoa powder
80ml hot water mixed with 1 teaspoon instant coffee
200ml vegetable oil
200g plain flour
125g granulated sugar
125g brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons white vinegar
- For the cheesecake layers:
About 10 Reese's peanut butter cups
600g full fat cream cheese
200g peanut butter (you can use smooth or crunchy, I used smooth)
150g granulated sugar
45g corn flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
220ml double cream, warm (just heat it in your microwave for 30-60 seconds)
120g white chocolate, melted
Some more peanut butter, to spread in the middle of the cake
Some whipped cream, to pipe on top (optional)
A few more Reese's peanut butter cups, for the top (also optional)
- DAY 1
- Making the ganache:
- In a large bowl, add the chopped chocolate, cream and butter. Heat this in your microwave for 30 seconds.
- Take this out and give it a stir, then place it back into the microwave and heat it for 15 seconds this time. Take it out and stir again.
- Keep repeating this until all the chocolate has melted and you get a smooth ganache. I also like to sieve it at this point, to get out any lumps.
- Cover and leave this at room temperature to set.
- Making the chocolate cake layers:
- Start by pre-heating your oven to 180c/350f. Also grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
- In a large bowl, add the cocoa powder and the hot water/coffee. Whisk this until combined.
- Add the oil, buttermilk and eggs into this, whisk until combined. Now add the flour and both sugars, whisk just until you get a smooth batter.
- In a separate small bowl, add the baking soda, then pour the vinegar over this. This will start bubbling, just give it a quick stir then pour it into your cake batter. Whisk until incorporated.
- Pour this batter into your cake tins, then bake at 180c/350f for around 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Once baked, leave to cool for about 20 minutes, then take the cakes out of the tin and wrap them in cling film. Place these into your fridge.
- Making the cheesecake layers:
- Pre-heat your oven to 170c/325f, also grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
- Cut your peanut butter cups into small pieces, then put these in your freezer whiles you make the batter.
- In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, corn flour and vanilla. Mix these together.
- Add half of the cream into this, whisk this in, the whisk in the remaining cream.
- Now whisk in the melted white chocolate, then get your chopped peanut butter cups and fold this into the batter.
- Add this into your cake tins, spread it out, then bake them at 170c/325f for around 30 minutes. They're done once the edges look set but the centre is still slightly jiggly. Once baked, turn your oven off, open the door slightly and leave them in there to cool for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, take them out and let them cool completely. Then place them into your fridge, whiles still in the tins. Leave them in the fridge overnight.
- DAY 2
- Whipping the ganche:
- Your ganache will have set at this point, so you can whip it.
- Whip it until the ganache lightens in colour and looks fluffier. It's a lot easier to do this with an electric mixer.
- Leave this aside.
- Assembling the cheesecake:
- I cut the tops of my cake layers off first, so that they were more even, but you can skip this if you want.
- Place one cake layer down onto a cake board or plate, then add a layer of cheesecake on top of this.
- Spread some peanut butter over this, then add the second layer of cake, and then the second layer of cheesecake.
- Now you can decorate this however you want, I just iced it with the whipped ganache, covered the sides with chocolate sprinkles, then added some whipped cream and chopped peanut butter cups on top.