Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake {My 30th Birthday Cake}

Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake

Today is the big day. Today I turn the big 3-0. I don’t look a day over 29, do I? ;-) I certainly don’t feel thirty. Not that I’m sure what exactly it should feel like. But I do know that today 30 will feel like getting pampered at the spa with a manicure/pedicure and a haircut. I’m pretty sure that I should have started doing this years ago. I mean, taking the day off from work and enjoying some relaxation? It’s a no-brainer. I think I may need to do this every year from now on, make it a tradition of sorts. Speaking of traditions…

I have created quite a tradition of baking myself a birthday cake over the last handful of years. The first year I did it I made an Oreo cheesecake, then I did an orange and cream cheese icing twist on Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake, and now this beauty. Hmm, there seems to be a theme of cream cheese. I do love my cheesecake. And my cream cheese icings. And peanut butter. And chocolate. And, well, so many other things (pizza, burgers, popcorn, soft pretzels, pizza… oh, I said pizza already). But today I decided to celebrate not only my birthday, but my love of cheesecake, chocolate and peanut butter. And what a delicious celebration it is!

Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake

The inspiration for this dessert came from a couple of different places. First, let’s go back to an old-school favorite – the Dairy Queen ice cream cake. For the better part of 10 years, whenever my mom would ask what kind of birthday cake I wanted the reply was always the same: a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. Truthfully, I could do without the ice cream or the whipped topping. I was in it for the fudge and chocolate crunchies in the middle. It was totally the best part. I always saved it for last, eating around it, and then savored each forkful. And so, I started off this dessert with that in mind. Being absolutely insane for chocolate and peanut butter together and loving peanut butter cups, I decided that chopped peanut butter cups would take the place of crunchies on top of the fudge layer.

The rest of the cheesecake took shape quite naturally. There needed to be an Oreo crust because I believe they make the best cheesecake crusts. Especially if peanut butter or other chocolate is involved. (In any other case, this shortbread crust is my go-to.) Given my love for cheesecake and my love for peanut butter (especially when sitting on top of a layer of fudge), I put together a peanut butter cheesecake. Finally, after making the Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte again for my Chief Culinary Consultant’s birthday back in February, I realized how much I love the idea of a chocolate ganache on top of a cheesecake-style dessert. It gives it a smooth and finished look and provides a great canvas on which to decorate!

Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake

And so there you have it: my decadent, rich and wonderfully chocolate-and-peanut-buttery 30th birthday cake.

It’s for the little girl in me that cherished a peanut butter and jelly sleeping bag more than anything when she was a kid. And for the slightly more grown-up girl that managed to grow out of a peanut allergy that reared its ugly head when she was 24. And that Reese’s Big Cup on top? My Chief Culinary Consultant bought me a whole bag of them the weekend after I learned I was no longer allergic last year. I have a soft spot for them now. Did I mention that my Chief Culinary Consultant is awesome in every way possible? He is.

Don’t wait for your birthday to make this; it’s much too good to keep filed away. Bake it, to celebrate all of the wonderful little things that happen between the birthday cakes.

Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake

Yield: 12 to 16 servings (depending on how generous you are with your cuts)

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (active), 5 hours (inactive)

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely crushed or ground in a food processor
5½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt

For the Fudge:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 miniature peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped and roughly chopped

For the Cheesecake:
24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs

For the Ganache Topping:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (300 degrees F if you are using a dark or non-stick pan). Butter a 9" springform pan and set aside.

2. To make the crust, stir the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl with a fork until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. (I like to use the bottom a measuring cup to press the crumbs around the pan. I've found that they get evenly distributed that way and end up looking neater around the sides.) Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

3. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let cool.

4. To make the fudge, put the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately pour the simmering cream over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1-2 minutes, then add the vanilla extract and stir with a whisk or rubber spatula until smooth and combined. Pour the fudge into the cooled crust and spread evenly over the bottom. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and sprinkle surface with the chopped peanut butter cups. Return to freezer for 10 more minutes.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Scrape the bowl and mix on low for another 20 seconds.

6. Remove the pan from the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling over the fudge and peanut butter cups. Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set and the middle just slightly jiggles, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour). Refrigerate the cheesecake at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a warm towel around the outside of the springform pan to loosen the crust from the sides. Carefully remove the sides from the springform pan.

7. Before serving, prepare the ganache topping. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Immediately pour the simmering cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1-2 minutes and then stir with a whisk or rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganache on the top of the cheese and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Return to the refrigerator to set the ganache, about 20 minutes. Garnish as desired (I had some leftover peanut butter icing from filling a customer cake, so I piped that around the border).

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186 Responses to “Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake {My 30th Birthday Cake}”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Steve S on April 4, 2010 at 8:42 am

    My kids and I had fun making this yesterday. I just layed the ganache topping. Hoping we can wait for Easter dessert before digging in. Looks amazing. Thank you for the recipe. The icing is delicious as well, had to dig into that:)

    Reply

  2. Tom on April 8, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Happy belated birthday!

    I don’t dare make this cheesecake. While I didn’t hibernate like a bear this past winter, I put on enough weight to do so…it’s going away, but this cheesecake would put be back about 2 months (or more) in the weight loss department.

    Will definitely keep this recipe handy though, as this combines some of my favorite things…peanut butter, chocolate, and cheesecake.

    Reply

  3. Megan on April 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Hello! Another successful recipe from you! I made this for two of my employees whose birthdays were yesterday. Everyone LOVED it! It was really pretty as well. Two thumbs way up!

    p.s. Happy VERY belated birthday!

    Reply

  4. Megan on April 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm
  5. Amanda Formaro on May 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    That is flippin’ amazing looking!! Happy belated birthday!

    Reply

  6. Jessica on May 9, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I made this for my mother for this Mothers day! :)

    Reply

  7. sarah on May 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

    can any parts of this be made ahead and frozen? or put in the fridge for a few days?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 18th, 2010 at 12:11 am

      Hi Sarah,

      Yes, you can freeze this after baking the crust, as well as after pouring the fudge filling over the peanut butter cups. Once baked you can cover it and keep it in the refrigerator for, I would say, 2 days. If you refrigerate it, I would hold off on adding the ganache topping until the day you serve it.

      Reply

  8. How To Eat A Cupcake on June 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    It looks like it came straight from a fancy shmancy bakery! Verryyy nice!

    Reply

  9. Anne on June 14, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Your cake is a work of art – I love that flavor combination too. And I love your blog!

    Reply

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  11. Megan on July 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I made this Saturday for my fiancee’s birthday. He loved it and said I think this is the first dessert you’ve made that I don’t think I can have sceonds of! Wonderfully delicious and VERY rich.

    Reply

  12. Shelley on July 30, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Made this last night for my brother’s birthday today. It cracked alot in the middle, atleast I can cover that with ganache! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  13. Sara Jean on August 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I saw this recipe a few months ago and bookmarked it as “Holy COW.” I made it last weekend for my sweetheart’s 30th birthday. It is the perfect cheesecake! I had never made one before but it wasn’t difficult at all. Thanks for posting such thorough and easy to follow directions. He says he’s obsessed with it – lol. Actually, it’s 3pm right now and he’s having his second piece of the day. That’s really sayin’ somethin’! Not for the faint of heart with respects to richness, but it’s amazing. Thanks again!

    Reply

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  15. Veena on September 19, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I fell in love with the cake the moment i saw it… i was drooling over the pictures for a long time before i actualy got to baking it. i had a slight problem though.. the centre didnt get set.. when i took it out of the oven the top started browing and i checked if the ckae was fully cooked completely.. my knife came out clean.. but after refridgerating and cutting a slice the next day.. i had a slight runny centre.. could you tell me what i might have done wrong.. but it tasted absolutely divine… i want to perfect this recipe… help please!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 20th, 2010 at 10:02 am

      Hi Veena, Hmmm I have never experienced a cheesecake with a runny center. A couple of thoughts… #1 Is your springform pan nonstick? If so, you should bake it at 25 degrees F lower than the recipe calls for. The nonstick coating will cause the outside (and top) to brown faster than the inside cooks. #2 Cheesecake doneness isn’t necessarily determined the same way it is for a cake (a knife inserted in center comes out clean) – you want to bake it until the edges are set and the middle still jiggles a bit when moved slightly. If the top starts to brown before then, you can tent it with foil. #3 Cooling is very important – it needs to cool to room temperature before going into the refrigerator, and then chilled for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) in the refrigerator – this all helps it set up properly.

      I hope that all helps and maybe gives you some ideas about the cheesecake. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Reply

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  18. Eileen on September 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Oh my gosh! I made this cheesecake this past weekend for a couple of peanut butter and chocolate lovers and it was amazing! So decadant and delicious! Thanks for all the great recipes! I love your blog!

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 28th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

      Aw, you are very welcome! I’m glad you have loved what I love! This cheesecake being no exception :)

      Reply

  19. Anne on December 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    I just have to say I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now, ya I know I’m a little late on the up-take! But I just had to leave a comment and say that I made this decadent cheesecake and I was blown away! It is by far my favorite cheesecake recipe now! I like it more than the peanut-butter cheesecake I buy from Cheesecake Factory, which is saying something!! Thank you for all of your hard work and thanks for sharing!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 6th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

      Wow, better than the Cheesecake Factory is definitely saying something! Thank you for the wonderful compliment!

      Reply

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  23. Christine on May 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    My husband sends his infinite thanks for sharing this recipe. I made it for his bday last year but forgot to come back and comment. He also said it rivals his favorite cake at Cheesecake Factory and has requested it for every birthday from this point forward. Thanks!

    http://christineskitchenchronicles.blogspot.com/2010/11/peanut-butter-fudge-cheesekcake.html

    Reply

  24. Melissa on August 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Made this for a best friend’s birthday and it was absolutely amazing! Everyone loved it and thought it was absolutely delicious! And it wasn’t complicated at all! Thank you!

    Reply

  25. Laura P on August 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I made this yesterday and had my family over for dessert. (I just found your web site). My husband re-fell in love with me and my parents finally decided I was the favorite child! My boys loved it too! My 7 year old went on and on about the textures and announced his mom was the best cook ever! Thanks for this great forever recipe for me!

    Reply

  26. Lauren on August 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

    This cheesecake was amazing!!! Thank you so much for posting it. Here is a link to my blog and a picture of my rendition of this cake.

    Reply

  27. Lauren on August 23, 2011 at 10:56 am

    The link didn’t post, so I’m trying it again differently.

    http://yohopiratediva.blogspot.com/2011/08/cheeeeeeeesecake.html

    Reply

  28. Jessi on September 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    This is gorgeous! I need to make this asap but I was wondering when you say 32 cookies do you mean whole cookies or just the single tops and bottoms?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 26th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Jessi, Whole cookies, enjoy!

      Reply

  29. Nichole on October 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    I made this last night for my husband’s birthday and it was sooooo yummy! However, I didn’t really care for the fudge layer with the bittersweet chocolate just cause I’m not a big fan of dark chocolate. Could I use a different kind of chocolate instead for the fudge layer? Oh, and I just want to add that this was the first time I’ve ever made cheesecake and it was really easy… took a lot of time but it was pretty easy. :-)

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 10th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      Hi Nichole, Absolutely! You could use whatever type of chocolate you like.

      Reply

  30. Nabila on October 24, 2011 at 8:17 am

    This cake looks absolutely amazing and sounds delish. Love ur blog! Wanted to ask when you use oreos for cheesecakes do you crush it with the cream or remove cream then crush?? And number of busicuites you have in above recipe is one oreo with cream
    In the middle?? Or is that 2 biscuites??
    Thank you!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 24th, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      Hi Nabila, I crush them with the whole cookie, cream and all. One Oreo equals one actual cookie – two wafers with cream in the middle.

      Reply

  31. Kate on October 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Help! We’ve just started making this and we’re unclear if the number of Oreos is counting 1 side of the cookie or both sides? I’m afraid we make have doubled the crumbs . . . advice?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 28th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Both sides. The number of Oreos includes the entire cookie, both sides and the cream in the middle.

      Reply

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  34. Tracey on January 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I have just found your blog, and I think I’m in love! While touring around, I came across this recipe, and noticed we share a birthday – must be why we have such similar taste in food! I think I may adopt this recipe, and make it for my birthday this year (not my 30th – just a few years past that!) Thanks for sharing your love of food and recipes!

    Reply

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  36. Li-Anne on February 24, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Could you omit the peanut butter? My friend is allergic to them, unfortunately, which really sucks :/

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 24th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Li-Anne, If you need to omit the peanut butter then I would go ahead and assemble the crust and the fudge layer as described here, but use the cheesecake portion from this recipe: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/09/28/fig-almond-cheesecake/ (it’s a basic vanilla cheesecake). And then proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed.

      Reply

  37. Jessica on March 24, 2012 at 1:49 am

    This was awesome! I should have cooked it a little bit longer, but other than that, it was amazing!

    Reply

  38. Sarah on June 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Did anyone else have any trouble? My cheesecake is overflowing all over my oven…

    Reply

    • Take It from Meg on January 31st, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Are you sure you have a 9″ pan? My 9″ pan was filled right up to the brim.

      Reply

  39. Amelia on July 1, 2012 at 5:22 am

    Made this for my best friends 30th today. Amazing!! Loved by all. Thanks for such a awesome recipe.

    Reply

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  42. Brooke on September 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    The Oreo cookies…do you leave the filling when you grind them? And is 32 cookies…whole cookies (ie both halves), and not 32 halves?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 25th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Brooke, You leave the cookies whole (with filling).

      Reply

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  44. Christy on December 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    How much in advance do you think I can make this cake? Three days?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 11th, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Hi Christy, I think three days would be the max, anytime up to and including that would work. Enjoy!

      Reply

  45. karyn on January 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    It is my roommates 30th this weekend. I thought of making her a pb choc cheesecake and it seems so perfect to stumble onto this. It looks exactly like what I was picturing in my head. I know she will love it. Thank you.

    Reply

  46. Take It from Meg on January 31, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I made this a few days ago while my dad was in town. It combines his favorite desserts of cheesecake and all things pb/chocolate. It was my first cheesecake ever and was a huge hit!!! The one small trouble I had was getting the cream to fully melt the chocolate. I used unchopped chips, a finely chopped chocolate would probably have been better. With both processes I took to my double boiler. My husband loved this too so I think it will likely be making another round sooner, rather than later :) Thank you!

    Reply

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  49. Malinda on February 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Hi! I am planning to make this recipe in a few days for my husband on our anniversary. I’ve never made a cheesecake before, so I’m quite nervous! I have a couple (probably stupid) questions:
    1. After we bake the crust, we transfer to a wire rack. Should it still be in the springform pan while cooling?
    2. When spreading the oreo crust in the springform pan, should it go all the way up the sides of the pan? Or just partially up the sides?
    3. I have never used a springform pan before, so do I need to grease the pan at all?
    Thanks for your help with this! I’m really excited/nervous for my first attempt! :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 26th, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Malinda, Here are answers to your questions:

      1. Yes, it should still be in the pan.
      2. Just partially.
      3. Yes, as the instructions state, you should butter the pan.

      Enjoy!

      Reply

      • Malinda on February 26th, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        Thanks! I realized that last one was already stated in the recipe as soon as I started cooking. Sorry about that!

        My husband and I ate the cake tonight and it was fabulous! This was a great first cake to do and now I cannot wait to try another. Thanks for such a great recipe, really helped to make our anniversary dinner special! :)

        Reply

  50. Carmen on April 29, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Want to make this for my best friend’s bday tomorrow. Do I need to bake in water bath? How far in advance can I make the ganache? I know it thickens with time; I don’t want it to be hard to slice. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 30th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Carmen, No need for a water bath, just bake it as the recipe states. I wouldn’t make the ganache until you’re ready to top the cheesecake with it; it should be a pourable consistency. However, once it’s on the cheesecake you can refrigerate it for up to a day before serving. It’s a soft-set ganache and doesn’t get hard.

      Reply

  51. Ivy on May 7, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Would there be any way to use brownies instead of the fudge?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 8th, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Hi Ivy, Do you mean putting down a 9″ round layer of brownie? Or cut up brownies? I’m sure you could try it; I haven’t made it like that, so unfortunately I can’t offer much advice or guarantee on how it’ll turn out. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it worked out!

      Reply

  52. Nick on May 9, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Looks great. I hope you can check out my variations of cheesecakes on Facebook. It’s called Nick Knack Cheesecake.
    https://www.facebook.com/NickKnackCheesecake

    Reply

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  54. Sharon on July 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    This is a fabulous recipe. Made it as a birthday cake for a cheesecake lover. The taste was phenomenal.
    Just one question Michelle… the texture of my final product was a “soft” cheesecake.
    For future reference, is that how it’s expected to be?
    Thanks,
    Sharon :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 19th, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Hi Sharon, Yes, it’s on the soft side, versus a drier, firmer texture. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  55. Amber Privett on August 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    This cheesecake is currently in the oven for my husband’s 29th birthday. I can’t really imagine anything going wrong… As if there weren’t enough peanut butter , I splurged and used the peanut butter cream Oreos for the crust. Thanks for another great recipe!

    Reply

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  57. jona faye on October 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

    wow!!! this cake looks amazingly delicious!! can we use a square pan to bake this? i must try this!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 4th, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Jona, If it is a springform pan with the equivalent volume as the 9-inch round, go for it. Otherwise, it may not accommodate the amount of batter.

      Reply

  58. Kristy on October 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I just made this but had a few concerns. I had scraped the middle of the oreos out because the recipe didnt say to leave them in… will that affect the crust? Also I used 4 eggs but the recipe didnt say what size egg. Is it possible to clarify that? Is the mixture supposed to be that creamy and not more liquid like batter? I just put it in the oven so Im excited to hopefully see if it turned out well or not. I put a water bath under the cheesecake on the bottom rack and the cheescake on the top rack because any cheesecake I have made usually requires that but the recipe didnt say so I got nervous. So many questions I know lol But I just need some clarity!!! HELP!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 22nd, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Kristy, You are to use the whole cookie for the crust, you do not need to remove the cream filling. Unless otherwise stated, you should use large eggs for baking.

      Reply

  59. Cheryl Long on December 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Wow! What a great cheesecake! Made it for Christmas and several people commented. My husband thought it was a little too much chocolate (and he was very wrong), but it did make me think about possibly making the same cake using Nutter Butter cookies for the base. Is it too soon to make another one with the change if we still have a small portion of the first one in the refrigerator?

    Reply

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  62. Mary on February 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

    I made this cheesecake over the weekend and let me just tell you- it was fantastic!! I was a little scared at first, it looked so intimidating, but it was fairly easy to make. Everyone loved it! Thank you so much your website is fantastic and all your recipes look so delicious!

    Reply

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  65. Courtney on April 6, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Hi Michelle!

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and this is not the first recipe of yours that I made, but it was the first I just had to comment on! This is only the third cheesecake I’ve ever made, but it was so simple to put together and turned out oh so divine!! I brought it to a dinner party and everyone raved over it!!! I had to make a few small adjustments, since it’s hard to find American style peanut butter here. I used 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1/4 cup butter, and an extra 2 tbsp sugar, and it tasted just like I hoped it would! Thank you so much for all of your wonderful recipes (and your doggie updates, Einstein and Duke remind me of my own Golden!) and can’t wait to try another!

    Courtney

    Reply

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