Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

Last year for Thanksgiving I made Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, and our guests LOVED it! (Blog post November 28, 2014) This year these same guests (Barb and Brad) invited us to their home for the Thanksgiving feast, so I decided to make a mini-adaption of the same delicious dessert (I found a recipe on OMGChocolateDesserts.com from which to base my ingredients. My version is listed below.)

Since there were only going to be five of us for dinner (Barb’s sister Pat joined the party), and I didn’t want this decadent dessert tempting us after-the-fact, I cut the recipe in half and made only six mini-cheesecakes. They’re like “crack for sweet-tooth addicts,” so it’s best not to have many leftovers for the “users.”

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Actually their dog Chloe made an even half dozen attendees!

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With cocktail hour, we enjoyed a baked brie with apricot preserves.

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The star of the show, roasted turkey and stuffing.

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Barb and Brad showing off their gravy-making skills.

When we arrived late in the afternoon, the 16-pound, picture-perfect turkey was just pulled from the oven and “resting,” allowing time for cocktail hour with a baked brie appetizer—and enjoyed on their outdoor deck because the weather was balmy for late-November. Brad informed us that they cooked their bird according to the recipe of Melissa Clark, The New York Times Columnist and Food Journalist—author/coauthor of an astounding 32 cookbooks. Not only did it look fabulous, it tasted great too!

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Russ assists Brad in carving the bird.

Along with sides of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and homemade gravy, I made a very colorful and delectable Maple Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Bacon (recipe follows). Of the two optional ingredients, we chose to include the crumbled bacon, but omit the Feta cheese. Because it came out of the oven almost two hours before we ate dinner, we did reheat the veggies for about 10 minutes.

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Maple Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Bacon.

Since we were not going to have any leftovers this year, Brad graciously gave us the turkey carcass with which we plan to make a soup or gumbo in the near future. And while we do love to cook, it was rather pleasant not having to do all that goes into such a holiday meal for once…

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The plated meal with all the fixin’s.

********************Mini Cheesecakes 
INGREDIENTS
(makes 12)
For crust:
  • 1 cup finely crushed Famous chocolate wafer cookies
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For filling:
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ⅔ cup powder sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
For topping:
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate pieces
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 30 miniature Reese’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, 6 sliced in half and the remainder coarsely chopped

A visual pictorial on making the cheesecakes:

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INSTUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In a bowl mix together graham cracker (or cookie crumbs), sugar and melted butter.
  3. Divide crumbs in the cupcake liners and press it on the bootom. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, powder sugar and vanilla on medium speed until well combined.
  5. Beat in eggs (one by one) until evenly combined. DO NOT OVER MIX IT.
  6. Spoon cheesecake filling over the crusts and bake at 325 F for 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out almost clean. (After 20 minutes, mine were nowhere near done, so I baked them for an additional 8 minutes.)
  7. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  8. Melt the chocolate pieces and stir in heavy cream. Spoon chocolate ganache on top of each cheesecake.
  9. Center a half of a peanut butter cup on each cheesecake followed by the chopped pieces. Then add a light drizzle of the ganache for garnish. (I even topped off each cake with several Ghirardelli pieces.)
  10. Store cheesecakes in refrigerator.

*************Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash

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INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, sliced in half through stem
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Dijon Maple Butter Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Garnish

  • 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup Feta cheese or to taste—optional
  • 8 slices bacon, crumbled or taste—optional
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After roasting for 25 minutes, and before the sauce and pecans are added.
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the Dijon Maple Butter Sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Add Brussels sprouts and squash, drizzle with olive oil and toss to evenly coat.
  4. Evenly spread out vegetables and roast at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  5. Toss vegetables with Dijon Maple Butter Sauce and 1/4 cup pecans (it will seem “wet but will soak in the vegetables) then roast another 10-20 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
  6. Toss Brussels sprouts and squash with cranberries and feta and bacon if desired. Serve warm.

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Close-up of the decadent Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes.

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