Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Peanutty Ice-Box Cake
Featured on Amuse Bouche the blog for the magazine Where Women Cook.
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Albert Einstein is attributed with saying, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Sometimes. Maybe. Confused might be a better word for the robin who spends all day, every day, diving into the large bank of windows that front our home. This has gone on for days now, and while we've done everything we can think of to ward him off, he'll keep at it until nesting season is over or he is concussed and falls from the sky. This happens every year and I'm always amazed these confused souls make it through mating season with their small brains intact. I mention this only because I can no longer deny my own recidivist tendencies. The delivery of locally raised meat forced me to access the contents of my auxiliary freezer. A quick inventory revealed that it was packed to the rafters and there was no room for the meat. This, too, happens every year and it's a good thing that Albert isn't around 'cause we all know what he'd say. After some mild cursing, deep digging and inventory analysis, I made space for the meat. The only bizarre aspect of the episode was my freezer wasn't jam-packed with meat or vegetables or survival staples. It was packed to the rafters with bread, berries and nuts. If ever there is a shortage of freezer jam stop by. I have enough of it to feed a small country. At any rate, tucked among the nuts was an embarrassingly large stash of peanuts. So, as you probably have already guessed, I'll be exploring recipes for peanuts for the next few days, and think I'll call the exercise Nuts to You Week in honor of Albert Einstein.
While many would call this a refrigerator cheesecake, I think it's more like an old-fashioned Charlotte or an ice-box cake. While it contains cream cheese, its texture is mousse-like and completely different than that of a cheesecake. The recipe, which comes from The Peanut Institute, is one of the easiest I've ever come across and even beginning cooks will be able to make it successfully. The Silver Fox made the cake that I photographed for this post. I've made no changes to the original recipe, but I do have a couple of suggestions should you decide to make it. I freeze the cake and slice it while it is frozen. This mousse-like cake is very soft, and in a perfect world it would benefit from the infusion of a bit of gelatin. The use of gelatin would, however, move the cake from its super easy status, so freezing it is the way to go if you want clean slices. Once it's cut, it has enough substance to stand on its own without drooping. I let the frozen slices sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so before serving. If I'm in a real rush 30 minutes at room temperature will also do the trick. This obviously is not gourmet fare, but it's a really nice dessert that's suitable for guests as well as family. If you like peanut butter desserts, you'll love this one. Here's the recipe.
Peanutty Ice-Box Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of The Peanut Institute
3/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
4 packages (3 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 container (4 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts for garnish
1) Combine peanuts, graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press crumb mixture into 9-inch spring form pan. Chill crust for 20 minutes.
2) Using an electric mixer, cream softened cream cheese and peanut butter until fluffy. Gradually add condensed milk and mix well. Add lemon juice and vanilla and blend well. Fold in whipped topping.
3) Pour mixture into prepared crust. Garnish with chopped peanuts. Chill 2-3 hours or freeze. Makes 12 servings.
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