Ah, October. While most think of Halloween all month long, I focus on race season. Every weekend except one is taken up by a race, with this past weekend being the sole half marathon and taking place in Dallas. Unfortunately it was crazy hot and I missed my goal time by several minutes, but I did get third place in my age group and an award to boot!
I’m now in Houston and kicked off the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which I’m superbly psyched to be attending. I do miss Bozeman’s October weather, but a whirlwind weekend with my favorite aunt for running and eating and Six Flags, followed by the inspiration of being around so many women in tech fields (plus my first time in Texas), is definitely worth skipping a few properly autumnal days.
Even with my disinclination towards Halloween, it does make for a great excuse to bake overly decadent treats that have no real justification. Although I’m still working on losing a few pounds and ergo drastically limiting my sugar intake, these tortes a la mode I made for my anniversary with M last Valentine’s Day are even more appropriate for the current holiday season.
The original recipe created a full-size dessert, but I felt a mini version was the right choice for me. Already portioned, pretty for pictures, and simpler to tote around. As a bonus, it’s also easier to give away the extras to my unsuspecting coworkers. I have included the instructions for the miniature ones, but for the full-size option simply double the recipe and use two 8″ cake pans.
Intensely chocolatey and riddled with peanut butter flavor, these tortes are drizzled with more of both because, well, why not? Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to round out the experience, it’s an immensely rich dessert and high in presentation points.
Fudgy chocolate cake interspersed with chopped Reese’s, the tortes on their own are a wonderful treat, made extra decadent by sandwiching a spread of peanut butter, and drizzled with a peanut butter glaze and chocolate sauce. Smooth vanilla ice cream tones down the decadence just a tad, and makes for a lovely creamy and fudgy juxtaposition. (The sauces also make great ice cream toppings on their own.)
For an extravagant dessert experience bring out the big guns and make these layered tortes a la mode as directed below. For maybe a slightly more tame dessert endeavor, just top each mini torte with a little peanut butter glaze and chocolate sauce, and call it a day. Whichever route you take, or perhaps a hybrid of the two, your peanut butter chocolate lovers are sure to be thrilled.
Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte a la Mode
Adapted from My Baking Addiction
Makes 6 or 12 servings
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
5 Reese’s cups, chopped
peanut butter, heated if necessary for spreading1
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 – 4 Tbsp heavy cream
2 Tbsp prepared chocolate sauce2
vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally coat a mini cheesecake pan with cooking spray. (A muffin tin will also work.) If you’re using anything besides silicon or mini springform pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk melted butter and cocoa powder until completely combined.
- Stir in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition (use a spatula).
- Repeat with eggs, 1 at a time.
- Add vanilla, flour, and salt, and stir until there are no streaks of flour.
- Fold in chopped Reese’s.
- Divide batter evenly between mini cheesecake (or muffin) wells, about 3 Tbsp each.
- Bake 18-25 minutes, until tops are matte and a toothpick comes out mostly clean, similar to brownies.
- Let cool completely.
- Run a knife around the edges of your pans and remove all cakes.
- Spread peanut butter on half of the cakes (I used about 1 tsp each), then top with another cake. Transfer to a platter, cake plate, or individual plates (or whatever you plan to serve from). Alternatively, for 12 smaller servings you can carefully cut each cake in half, spread peanut butter on the bottoms, and replace the tops.
- Whisk together additional peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 Tbsp heavy cream until smooth. If you want a thinner glaze, add additional heavy cream in small amounts at a time until desired consistency is reached. (If you are making 12 servings and want ample glaze, you may want to double the amounts.)
- Carefully top each mini cake with 1-2 tablespoons of glaze, letting it drip slightly down the sides.
- Drizzle with melted chocolate chips or chocolate sauce.
- Just before serving, top each stack with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
1 I recommend you use a sweeter peanut butter like Jif or Skippy which probably doesn’t need to be heated, but if you insist on using a natural peanut butter it might need to be warmed a little in order for it to be easily spreadable.
2 I used homemade chocolate sauce I already had on hand; Hershey’s or similar would work great, or melted chocolate chips are always a good option. If you are concerned with presentation, I recommend putting the chocolate sauce in a piping bag and cutting off a very small tip so you have good control over your drizzle.