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


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


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).


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

  1. Farrah on March 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Happy 30th Bday Michelle.
    The cake looks amazing, hope you enjoy your day.


  2. Sally on March 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!!


  3. Maria on March 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Happy Birthday! Great treat to celebrate with! enjoy!


  4. Taryn on March 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! This cake is ridiculous. My birthday is in 2 weeks and I told my husband I wanted to make my own cake – because I love baking and I love my birthday and I don’t see why I shouldn’t merge the two – and he thought it was a terrible idea. But I’ve officially decided to bring my own cake to my own birthday party and it’s going to be this. cake. Have an amazing day today!


  5. Isabel on March 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I so want to lick my computer screen!! My friend is making it this Saturday for out monthly Bunco get together! Nachos and PB Cheesecake – can’t go wrong with that – oh! don’t forget the beer!


  6. Melanie on March 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Ok, the cheesecake looks amazing! Utterly amazing. And happy birthday!


  7. Fuji Mama on March 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! What a way to celebrate–I’m ready to lick my computer screen if only I could get even a nibble! YUM!


  8. Indhu on March 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Happy Birthday! I love the idea of taking off on your birthday.. I am going to do that this year … and the cheesecake is killing me :)


  9. stephchows on March 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    sounds like the perfect way to ring in 30!


  10. lisa on March 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Happy Birthday!
    Your cheesecake looks AMAZING! I swear I can smell it off the screen! No joke! =D


  11. veronica Martinez on March 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    OMG!!! Im licking my screen. Happy Birthday!


  12. Heather (Heather's Dish) on March 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    oh good lord, that was NOT good for me to see at all because now i just want to make it and devour the whole thing! :)

    happy birthday! i hope you have the most wonderful day ever :)


  13. ashley on March 25, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    happy birthday hun! looks delish!


  14. Scorpio Woman on March 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Happy Birthday! That’s a wonderful cake. I love cheesecake. I’ll have to try that one. Thanks for the recipe :)


  15. Memoria on March 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    ¡FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! This cheesecake looks amazing and reminds me of the chocolate mousse cheesecake I made for my birthday this year.

    You deserve this beauty! YUM! I already bookmarked this recipe. Have a great day!


  16. Jade on March 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!! This cakes looks amazing!


  17. Allison on March 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday! That cheesecake looks amazing. The proportions and decorations look so perfect!


  18. Lori from on March 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Wishing you a fabulous birthday filled with sweet surprises…like that devilish little cheesecake you whipped up for yourself! Fill your belly up with that yummy cake and glide right into your 30’s with style! You won’t regret it.


  19. mandy gross on March 25, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    First of all, Happy Birthday!
    This recipe looks amazing! I’ll definitely be making it for my husband, he is peanut butter crazy!


  20. Kerstin on March 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Happy Birthday!!! Your cheesecake looks like the perfect way to celebrate – YUM!


  21. Kathleen on March 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    You have outdone yourself. This is Awesome!! Thanks so much, can’t wait to try.


  22. bunkycooks on March 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I would sing, but it might not be pretty, so Happy Birthday instead! This cheesecake looks totally decadent! Cheesecakes have always been my one true weakness in the dessert category. This one would be really dangerous to have around, but perfect to celebrate the big 3-0!


  23. Amanda on March 25, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Happy Birthday! That cake looks AMAZING!


  24. Carly on March 25, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    So… this is almost exactly like the birthday “cake” I made my husband this year. DEFINITELY a better alternative to traditional b-day cake :) Your’s looks phenomenal!


  25. Cindy on March 25, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    How fun–we share a birthday! (Though I am three years ahead of you. . . .) I’m going to try making myself one of these–it looks amazing. And has anyone mentioned lately that your pictures are really well done?


  26. Jackie on March 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Hi Michelle

    I’m wishing you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and may you be blessed with many more to come. I have a couple of questions about the cheesecake. What brand of Peanut Butter did you use. Did you bake the cheesecake directly on the oven rack or did you bake it in a water bath.


    • Michelle on April 3rd, 2010 at 9:46 pm

      Hi Jackie,

      Thank you for the birthday wishes! I used Jif creamy peanut butter, and I baked the cheesecake directly on the oven rack, no water bath.


  27. Megan on March 25, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle! You outdid yourself on the cake. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Definitely chocolate and pb heaven!


  28. Katrina on March 25, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Happy Big 3-0! That cheesecake looks heavenly!


  29. Katrina on March 25, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Happy Birthday!! Gimme some of that cake!!


  30. Amanda on March 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Happy birthday! Sounds like a day at the spa finished with that lovely cheesecake is the prefect present…. I will be 30 in 2 months and I would love that as a present.


  31. Andi on March 26, 2010 at 12:33 am

    My birthday is in 3 weeks and I’ve been trying to plan my cake for months… I take my cake very seriously! I’ve gone though 6 recipes yet and nothing has been special, but I think I’m done searching. This looks perfect!


  32. Aimee on March 26, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Happy Birthday! Now that is the way to welcome your 30’s! Its a great decade…I am two years in and love it!


  33. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) on March 26, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Happy 30th, Michelle! Really hope you had the greatest day! That cake had to make it amazing! It looks decadent!


  34. S on March 26, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Happy belated birthday! That cheesecake looks beautiful! Isn’t it great to eat peanuts again? :) If I had a peanut allergy I think I would cry.


  35. Chaboti on March 26, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Happy (belated) Birthday !!!
    Wow… great to you from you gift
    Aries are the best bakers ever (my bthday is march 28th and I turn 30 too, wink !)


  36. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on March 26, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Beautiful… and happy 30th birthday!


  37. Jeanne on March 26, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Happy Belated Birthday! This cake looks like a great way to relax!


  38. Pilar on March 26, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Happy Birthday! Have a great year and thanks for sharing your recipes.


  39. Valerie M. on March 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Oh boy!!! I came here looking for one of your other recipes and saw this. This has GOT to be made at my house and soon!!


  40. Beth on March 26, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Happy Birthday! That cake looks absolutely decadent. Enjoy it!


  41. Joanna on March 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    congratulations! 😀 you have an award. please feel free to check it out here. 😀 thank you!


  42. Aubri on March 26, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    I too share your obsession with both peanut butter/chocolate AND cheesecake! This looks so good! I keep meaning to tell you that I made the cheesecake truffles…except I put a couple of spoonfulls of peanut butter into the chocolate before I dipped them. Oh my…you should try it. They were fab. Happy Birthday! 30’s aren’t so bad :)


  43. Mary Poppins in Heels on March 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Happy Birthday (a bit late but no less heartfelt)! And, no, you don’t look a day over 29, even these few days into the big 3-0! (The 30s are great. Enjoy it!)

    The cake looks amazing, like a delicious work of art.


  44. Barbara @ moderncomfortfood on March 30, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I think I’ve fallen in love with your cake! Absolutely beautiful in every way: ingredients, photos, and how you wrote it up. And, BTW, happy birthday (Oh to be 30 again!).


  45. bridget {bake at 350} on March 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    That is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!! Oh my goodness!!! I loved my 30’s…just entered the 40’s in October and they’re not too shabby, either! :)

    Happy belated birthday!


  46. Dim on March 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Are you my Dairy Queen twin? I wish they would create a cake made solely of the fudge/cookie crunch! Happy Birthday!


  47. Jenn on March 31, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Love this recipe! I think I will make it for my 30th birthday this saturday.


  48. TrishtheDish on March 31, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Ommnomnom! I’m making this for my son for his birthday and shipping it to him. He’ll be delighted!


  49. Amy on April 1, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    About how long does this take to make from start to finish?


    • Michelle on April 3rd, 2010 at 10:19 pm

      Hi Amy,

      Generally speaking, this takes about 3 hours of prep and cooking time. In addition to that, at least 4 hours of chill time in the refrigerator. So you’re looking at at least 7 hours. You could also chill overnight once the cheesecake is baked and cooled to room temperature.


  50. Laura on April 2, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Happy birthday!
    That is one GORGEOUS cheesecake!


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