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      RECIPE TITLE "Peanut Butter Cheesecake" by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
    excerpted from The Ultimate Peanut Butter Book : Savory and Sweet, Breakfast to Dessert, Hundereds of Ways to Use America's Favorite Spread (Paperback)

    yieldsMakes one 9-inch cheesecake--about 16 servingstime --- difficultyeasy

    It must be some ancient impulse that sets us to hunkering down about now. Even people in south Texas start to gather in for the coming winter, as short and mild as it may blessedly be down there.

    Gone are the light salads of summer. We're thinking about table-setters like turkey, roast beef, and... well, peanut butter cheesecake. At least we're thinking about peanut butter, what with the new book just out.

    There's something about that jar of peanut butter that just smells like fall. Maybe it's the PB&Js we started carrying to school after Labor Day; maybe it's the intense, rich taste that so fits this cooling-off season.

    Would that life were that simple. Our fabulous editor at HarperCollins, Harriet Bell, claims that people crave summer foods in winter and winter foods in summer. In other words, fresh peaches in January and coq au vin in June.

    True enough, but there's a stretch before the cold sets in when we're perfectly attuned to what we crave--a little space of time when our desires and the weather somehow coincide.

    So go ahead and hunker down with our peanut butter cheesecake. It's the kind of dessert made for the fall: rich, homey, a little retro, and diet-killing. Forget the bathing suit and revel in the moment of settling in, before the cravings for pesto descend with a vengeance. --Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


    2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    24 ounces regular or low-fat cream cheese (do not use fat-free)
    1 1/3 cups sugar
    1 cup creamy standard peanut butter
    4 large eggs, at room temperature
    1/2 cup regular or low-fat sour cream (do not use fat-free)
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract


    It's best if it ripens in the refrigerator overnight, so plan on making it a day ahead.

    1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan tightly in aluminum foil (this will keep the water in the water bath from seeping into the batter as the cake bakes); set aside.

    2. Stir the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until the graham cracker crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Pour a little more than half of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared springform pan and press it all the way to edges so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Pour the rest of the mixture around the inner seam of the pan, where the rim meets the bottom; press the crust halfway up the sides of the pan, filling in along the bottom where necessary. Set aside.

    3. Beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. If you rub a small bit between your fingers, you should feel only a few sugar granules. Beat in the peanut butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. Finally, beat in the sour cream and vanilla.

    4. Taking care not to disturb the crust, pour this mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth its top with a rubber spatula. Place the springform pan in a high-sided roasting pan that's large enough to accommodate it comfortably. Fill the larger roasting pan with hot water until it comes about halfway up the outside of the springform pan.

    5. Bake until the cheesecake's top is dry and lightly browned and the cake jiggles like a set custard when tapped, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the springform pan from the water bath and cool it completely to room temperature on a wire rack.

    6. Remove the foil and cover the pan with plastic wrap, taking care not to press the wrap onto the surface of the cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight.

    7. Unlatch the sides and transfer to a serving platter. If desired, run a long knife between the pan's bottom and the cake, then gently slide the cake onto the serving platter.

    HOT! We recommend:

    The Ultimate Peanut Butter Book : Savory and Sweet, Breakfast to Dessert, Hundereds of Ways to Use America's Favorite Spread (Paperback)
    by Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough
    Peanut butter makes everything better. Think about it: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Cold Peanut Noodles. Peanut Butter Fudge. Still not convinced? Try Peanut Butter Waffles, Pad Thai, or Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Centers. In The Ultimate Peanut Butter Book, the tenth addition to their Ultimate series, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough offer up hundreds of recipes and variations for America's favorite spread. From comforting Peanut Butter Sticky Buns to decadent Peanut Butter Cheesecake to outrageous Elvis Spread (peanut butter, bacon, and bananas), The Ultimate Peanut Butter Book takes Peanut butter way beyond the same old PB&J.


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