So I decided to add another recipe to the repertoire of not-too-sweet treats I’ve been sharing here. I made these the other day and Ben declared them “The perfect dessert.” They’re filling and indulgent, without being too sweet.
I developed this recipe out of a desire for a go-to, not-too-sugary, not-too-processed cheesecake recipe. I couldn’t find one so I had to make one up. The greatest challenge was coming up with a good crust.
Growing up, I knew how to make cheesecake crusts using one of two standard ingredients: either store-bought graham-cracker crumbs or Oreo cookie crumbs. Those were your options. You added more sugar and some butter (or margarine!) to either one of these bagged ingredients and pressed it into the bottom of your pan before adding your filling.
When I started to transition to real/traditional foods, I realized that these staple items in my pantry had to go. They were filled with obnoxious non-food ingredients like hydrogenated oils, artificial flavours, and of course, high-fructose corn syrup.
I started playing around with simpler ingredients. Turns out, you can make an excellent crust using just flour, sugar, and butter (and cocoa, if you want).
This recipe still has plenty of sugar, so you don’t want to make it often or eat it all in one sitting. It also still contains white flour. But it’s definitely less sugary and processed than the recipes I grew up with, and I’ve decided it’s acceptable as an occasional treat.
In this recipe, I’ve added cacao nibs to add some rich, chocolatey flavour and textural intrigue without adding more sugar, but you can omit them or substitute chocolate chips.
Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares
Note: it’s best to make cheesecake with room-temperature ingredients. So take your cream cheese, eggs and peanut butter (if applicable) out of the fridge an hour or so before you start. This will give you a smoother batter, and you won’t have to beat it as long, which helps prevent cracking during baking.
Also note that this recipe requires you to bake the crust on its own for a bit before adding the rest and completing the baking.
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cocoa
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
Combine all the ingredients in a square 9-inch glass pan, and then pat it down in the bottom of the dish evenly. Bake for 15 minutes at 350. Let it cool a bit before adding the filling.
- 2 bricks (1 pound) cream cheese
- ½ cup natural peanut butter
- ½ cup sugar (sucanat, evaporated cane juice, or coconut palm are all good)
- 2 eggs
- handful raw cacao nibs (optional)
- 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
Mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a mixer with the paddle attachment just until blended. Pour onto the cooled crust. [Updated to add: sprinkle on chocolate chips]
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
Serves 9 (If everyone’s being self-disciplined)
If you’re in the mood for chocolate cheesecake, omit the peanut butter and add 3 tbsp cocoa powder.