This amazing chocolate peanut butter cheesecake is incredibly easy to make and absolutely packed with flavour. The cheesecake filling is sheer creamy, peanut-butter-packed perfection and the glossy, luscious chocolate ganache on top takes it to a whole new level. Even better, this recipe guarantees a crack-free cheesecake WITHOUT a water bath!
Friends, this chocolate peanut butter cheesecake is DANGEROUS – and I mean that in the best possible way. If you’re a cheesecake and peanut butter fan… this is the perfect dessert for you, and once you give it a try, you’ll be making it again and again (and again).
The cheesecake crust is incredibly flavourful thanks to the addition of ground toasted peanuts, and the cheesecake filling is sheer creamy, peanut-butter-packed perfection. The glossy, luscious chocolate ganache on top gives this amazing dessert some peanut butter cup vibes (after all, chocolate and peanut butter is a match made in heaven) and the finishing sprinkling of roughly chopped toasted peanuts adds a wonderfully crunchy texture.
Even better, this peanut butter cheesecake is INCREDIBLY EASY to make – and the recipe guarantees a perfectly creamy, crack-free cheesecake without a water bath. That’s right: you don’t need a water bath to make this beauty!! This means that the recipe is about as stress- and fuss-free as they come.
So, without further ado: here’s how you make the perfect peanut butter cheesecake.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this wonderful cheesecake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
How do you make peanut butter cheesecake from scratch?
Making this AMAZING peanut butter cheesecake truly couldn’t be easier. You don’t need any special equipment to make the cheesecake filling (no hand or stand mixer required!), but you will need a food processor or blender to process the toasted peanuts for the cheesecake crust until fine.
First, prepare the cheesecake crust:
- Crush up the digestive biscuits or graham crackers (or a gluten-free alternative if it’s a requirement – by the way, I have an AMAZING recipe for gluten-free digestive biscuits in my book, Baked to Perfection!!) until you get fine crumbs. I used a food processor but you could easily put them into a plastic bag and bash them up with a rolling pin.
- In a food processor or blender, process the toasted peanuts until finely ground, and mix them together with the crushed up digestives.
- Add the melted butter and mix it all together until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Transfer into a lined 8 inch (20cm) springform pan and, using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup, compress them into an even layer with an approximately 1 ½ inch (4cm) rim around the edge.
- Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 10 minutes, then allow to cool until warm.
Next up, prepare the peanut butter cheesecake filling:
- In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to mix together room temperature cream cheese, yoghurt and smooth (natural, unsweetened) peanut butter until smooth. Note that I’ve said MIX and not whisk – don’t aerate the mixture and stop mixing the moment all the ingredients are combined and smooth. Introducing air into your cheesecake filling can cause it to crack during baking and cooling, more on that below.
- Add the caster/superfine sugar to the cream cheese mixture and mix well until combined and smooth.
- Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until smooth.
- Add the vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), and mix well.
- The cheesecake batter shouldn’t be too runny – you should be able to see streaks in the filling from mixing, and when you spoon out a dollop and let it drop back into the mixture, it shouldn’t level out and disappear back into the rest of the filling straight away. This texture/consistency means that you haven’t over-mixed your batter, so it’s less likely to crack.
- Transfer the peanut butter cheesecake filling onto the slightly cooled cheesecake base, smooth out the top, and bake! (Without a water bath – but more on that below.)
Do you really need a water bath to bake a cheesecake?
NO!!! I know that using a water bath is highly popular in cheesecake baking, but I’m personally not a fan – for two reasons. Firstly, it’s fussy and messing about with boiling hot water is not fun. And if you’ve been round these parts before, you know I’m all about no-fuss baking.
Secondly, I don’t like the texture of cheesecakes prepared using a water bath. This is very much a personal preference, but to me it’s much too smooth – almost like eating a mouthful of straight-up cream cheese.
The good news is that I’ve developed an incredibly simple method for reliably preparing crack-free cheesecakes (and cheesecake bars) without using a water bath. Read on to learn all about it!
I mean, just look at this lovely, smooth, crack-free surface!!
How do you prevent your cheesecake from cracking?
I’ve actually developed what is now my go-to cheesecake baking method while I was writing my debut cookbook, Baked to Perfection (which is now available to pre-order).
So, to prevent your cheesecake from cracking WITHOUT a water bath:
- Make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature – this is particularly important for the cream cheese, yoghurt and eggs.
- Don’t aerate or over-mix the batter. That means that you shouldn’t intensively whisk the batter if using a balloon whisk and doing it by hand. I also don’t recommend using a hand mixer. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment and set the mixer to the lowest speed setting – again, you want to mix the cheesecake filling, rather than beat or whisk it.
- Bake your cheesecake at a relatively low temperature of 285ºF (140ºC). This bakes the cheesecake very slowly and prevents the filling from over-baking (which is the most common cause of cracking).
- Turn off the oven while the cheesecake is still wobbly in the middle. For this peanut butter cheesecake, this is around the 65-70 minute mark. The remaining heat of the oven will fully set the cheesecake without over-baking it.
- Allow the cheesecake to cool until warm or room temperature in the turned-off oven with the oven door ajar. This slow cooling process further ensures that your cheesecake won’t crack during cooling.
Decorating the peanut butter cheesecake
Now, you could serve the (cooled and chilled!) peanut butter cheesecake as is, but I like to top it with some glossy, luxurious chocolate ganache for some mouth-watering peanut butter cup vibes – and a sprinkling of roughly chopped toasted peanuts for an extra crunch.
And that’s all there is to it, friends! This chocolate peanut butter cheesecake truly couldn’t be easier to make, and the results are so incredibly delicious.
I really hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake (Gluten-Free Option)
For cheesecake crust:
- 200 g (2 cups) finely crushed digestive biscuits (You can also use graham crackers. If you need the cheesecake to be gluten-free, you can use gluten-free digestives or rich tea biscuits, or other gluten-free cookies/biscuits of choice.)
- 100 g (¾ cup) whole raw, blanched peanuts (You will use part of them, once toasted, also for decoration.)
- 55 g (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted (The exact amount of butter you will need will depend on the type of biscuits/cookies/crackers you use.)
For peanut butter cheesecake filling:
- 600 g (2 ⅔ cups) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (I used Philadelphia cream cheese.)
- 115 g (½ cup) full-fat plain or Greek-style yoghurt, room temperature (You can also use sour cream.)
- 225 g (¾ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) smooth, natural, unsweetened peanut butter (I haven't tested this recipe with a processed peanut butter like Jif or Skippy, so I can't guarantee that it will work with them.)
- 225 g (1 ⅛ cup) caster/superfine sugar
- 3 UK medium/US large eggs, room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
For chocolate ganache:
- 80 g (2.8 oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 120 g (½ cup) double/heavy cream
For cheesecake crust:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 355ºF (180ºC) and line a large baking sheet and an 8 inch (20cm) springform pan with baking/greaseproof paper.
- To toast the peanuts:Place the peanuts on the lined baking sheet and spread them out into an even layer.Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 12-14 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are a light golden colour and smell nicely toasted. Once toasted, allow to cool on the baking sheet.
- In a food processor or blender, process 75g (about a heaped ½ cup) of the cooled toasted peanuts until finely ground. Reserve the remaining toasted peanuts for decorating the finished cheesecake.
- Mix together the crushed digestive biscuits, ground toasted peanuts and melted butter, then transfer the mixture into the lined springform pan and, using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup, compress them into an even layer with an approximately 1 ½ inch (4cm) rim around the edge.Tip: Depending on the type and brand of cookies/biscuits you use, you might need slightly less or slightly more butter than listed in this recipe. Add the butter slowly, mixing well after each addition, until you reach the consistency of wet sand. You want a mixture that somewhat sticks together or holds its shape when pressed together, but it shouldn't feel/look greasy or oily.
- Bake at 355ºF (180ºC) for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool until warm.
For peanut butter cheesecake filling:
- Reduce the oven temperature to 285ºF (140ºC).Tip: If your springform pan isn't 100% leak-proof, I recommend you also get a baking sheet ready to place the cheesecake on it before it goes into the oven. This will catch any small leaks of butter from the cheesecake base, and prevent any smoking or burning at the bottom of your oven.
- In a large bowl using a balloon whisk, mix the cream cheese, yoghurt and peanut butter together until smooth. Tip: Make sure to MIX rather than whisk or aerate – you don't want to incorporate too much air into the mixture. If you don't want to do this by hand, use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on the lowest speed setting. (I don't recommend using a hand mixer.)
- Add the sugar to the cream cheese mixture and mix well until combined and smooth.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until smooth.
- Add the vanilla and mix well.Tip: At this point, the cheesecake batter shouldn’t be too runny – you should be able to see streaks in the filling from mixing, and when you spoon out a dollop and let it drop back into the mixture, it shouldn’t level out and disappear back into the rest of the filling straight away. This texture/consistency means that you haven’t over-mixed your batter (so it’s less likely to crack).
- Transfer the peanut butter cheesecake filling into the slightly cooled cheesecake crust and smooth out the top.
- Bake at 285ºF (140ºC) for about 65-70 minutes (1 hour 5 minutes - 1 hour 10 minutes), or until the filling is very light golden brown around the edges, the edges are fully set, and the middle is still wobbly when you gently shake the baking pan.Tip: This baking time range is merely a guideline – you should always judge the doneness of a cheesecake based on its physical indicators (the wobbliness of the centre, how set the edges are, etc.) rather than on the baking time, especially as each oven behaves slightly differently. You should start checking your cheesecake about 10 minutes before the recommended baking time.
- Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature in the turned-off oven with the oven door ajar.
- Once cooled to room temperature, transfer the cheesecake into the fridge for at least 4 hours (or preferably overnight) before removing it from the baking pan onto a serving plate.
For chocolate ganache & assembly:
- Place the chopped dark chocolate into a heat-proof bowl.
- In a saucepan, bring the double/heavy cream just to the boil, then pour it over the chocolate. Allow to stand for 2-3 minutes, then stir together until smooth and glossy.
- Allow the ganache to cool and thicken slightly at room temperature, about 10-15 minutes, then spoon or pour it on top of the chilled cheesecake. Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the ganache on top of the cheesecake, leaving about ½-¾ inch (1-2cm) edge free of the ganache.
- Roughly chop the remaining toasted peanuts and sprinkle them on top of the ganache before it sets.
- Allow the ganache to set at room temperature or in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.
- The chocolate peanut butter cheesecake keeps well in a closed container or tightly wrapped in cling film in the fridge for 4-5 days.