Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cosmos at the Opera : Daring Bakers

I have a confession to make.
As a woman living in New York, and a borderline scary obsession with shoes, I'm not much of a 'Sex and the City' watcher. The series started in my cable-free days, and I just never got into it. I do watch an occasional episode when its on re-runs, but its not something I seek out.

I have another confession to make.
Of all the things Sex and the City brought into the pop-culture spotlight (Manolo, anyone?), Cosmopolitan Martinis would have to be near the top of my list.

I have a few friends that share my love of 'girly' drinks, and we get together once a month or so for "Cosmo Night." While we don't always drink cosmos, we do drink something fruity and alcohol laden (unless someone is 'expecting' - then we switch to fruit smoothies in a show of support), and we always have a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine to read from. Cosmo magazine is 1000% more enjoyable when read aloud. With alcohol. With 5 women pantomiming the '65 hot new sex tricks' and wondering what level of yoga you need to achieve to actually use the tips.

This month, as I read the Daring Bakers assignment of an "Opera Cake," I excitedly pondered my flavor options. I wanted something light and fruity. I also was trying to think of the best occasion to bring these to, trying to pawn off some calories. We had a cosmo night planned for memorial day weekend, and I figured, with the upcoming movie, what better a theme than 'cosmo?'

For the uninitiated, our tried and true cosmopolitan martini recipe is as follows:

Cosmo Martini

4 parts Vodka
2 parts Triple Sec
2 parts Cranberry Juice
1 part Lime Fresh Juice

Shake all four ingredients with ice, serve.

I decided my primary flavors would be cranberry and lime. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Everywhere I looked, there were flavor extracts for every fruit under the sun, except cranberry. In desperation, I ended up settling for a bottle of heavily concentrated cranberry. The label calls for 1 part concentrate to 5 parts water, so I figured this was as close to 'extract' as I was going to get. I was a little scared of the potency since most extracts are alcohol based and this was pure cranberry, so I used 1 teaspoon of the concentrate in the syrup. For the lime, I added 1 limes worth of zest to the buttercream. Both added subtle but not overpowering flavors to the cake.

For presentation, I like anything miniature or 'single serving.' It makes you feel a little better when you eat 3 of them over the span of a day. But with the towering layers the recipe called for, I feared anything too small would turn into the leaning tower of opera cake.

My largest round biscuit cutter fit the bill, and with 10x15 inch pans, I got 6 rounds from each layer. Assemble was pretty straightforward, though I was a little worried about adding too much syrup and causing the whole thing to crumble.

The cakes were a big hit, and rather than do the 'ladylike' thing of plates and such (who wants to do the dishes anyhow?) we just grabbed forks and dug in. 7 sets of 2 thumbs up all

For more information or recipe, please visit The Four Hostess blogs.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns : TWD

This week I was relieved to see the return of the Brioche dough to the Tuesdays with Dorie rotation. As recommended in the raisin snails, I sealed up the 2nd half of the brioche recipe, and stashed it into the freezer, figuring it was only a matter of time before we got to it again.

After a 24 hour stint in the fridge to thaw down, the dough was as soft and pliable as when it was fresh. I was pretty excited, since I really liked this brioche recipe, and am always doubtful when freezing things like dough. It rolled out easily, and thankfully this week's recipe had far fewer steps than the custard filling. It took no time to sprinkle out the sugar, roll it up, and slice it. I always fear I'll end up with very uneven pieces, so after trimming the edges, I cut it in 1/2, then each piece in 1/2, so on until I had 16 rolls.

I wanted to take the finished rolls to a get together the same evening, so when the rolls hadn't risen to the 'touching' stage, I was a little disappointed. But put them in the oven regardless. Next time I use frozen dough, I'll have to remember to give it more rise-time.

They came out of the oven all bubbly and smelling divine. Then came the task of turning them out. Because I wanted them to be in a portable container, I chose to invert them into a pan with taller sides, fearing hot syrup spilling in the car. I probably should have given it more thought. Because instead of hot sugar all over the car, I ended up with hot sugar all over the counter. The inversion didn't go quite as planned, and I ended up making a bit of a mess.

I scooped as much syrup and pecans back into the pan with the buns, neatening them a little, and did a quick scrub down before having to run out the door without them. I was just too disappointed in my faux pas to bring the misshaped mess I ended up with.

Giving them a glance this morning, I decided they were at least worth a taste since they SMELLED divine, and the only problem was in the actual visual presentation. They were indeed quite tasty, and well worth the time investment of the brioche recipe. Next time, I'll just have to remember to turn them out into a nice shallow pan.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Makes 15 buns
For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces1/4 cup honey1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)
For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar1 tablespoon ground cinnamon3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)

Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).
To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissovle the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out asbest you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinle over the pecans.

To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glae recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns ahve doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
Click here for the Golden Brioche Dough recipe.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Review: Peapod by Stop and Shop

Checking the stop and shop website for the weekly specials, their 'peapod' service caught my eye. I'd looked at grocery services like fresh direct before, but no one covered my area. With the opening of the new local 'super' stop and shop they just opened, they seem to have expanded their coverage area.

I'm a little ocd at times about picking out my groceries. Usually its an afternoon consuming process of checking the sale circulars, making up a detailed list, sorting coupons, then going to the store where I pick through produce with a discerning eye.

I worried, if I send my order off to a faceless computer system, will they use the same discerning eye? I decided it was worth giving it least one try to see.Picking out the food was pretty easy. I entered my shopper card, and it automatically gave me the ability to view my past shopping trips to quickly add my staples of milk, yogurt, eggs, etc. Next, I went through the sale section and added the things we needed that were on sale. Finally, with a mental recipe inventory of what I wanted to cook this week, I filled in any gaps of what I still needed.

Because we're trying to keep meals healthy, a good chunk of my basket was fresh fruits and veggies. This would be the true test. With a quite full list, the total came in at $117.42 plus 2.25 in tax. Add in $6.95 for shipping, plus $1.28 fuel charge, Then subtracting a 10$ discount for being a first time customer, my total came in at $117.90. Pretty good. If I had picked items that I had coupons for, I could give them to the delivery man, and they would be credited to me as well.

Checking out, I was given a choice of delivery times. Some of the 'prime' slots come with an up charge, and the more flexible spots come with a discount. I opted for a middle of the road slot of 10am-1pm.

Right on schedule, the truck pulled up around 11 am. The guy took some time sorting things out in the back before carrying everything in, and by everything, I mean he made one trip to carry in every single bag of my order, minus the 20lb sack of dog food. I don't blame the second trip for that, I have trouble even lifting them.

Overall, everything was pretty top notch. The only downside, I would say, is the bagging. I usually shop with reusable cotton bags. So this was a bit of letting go to let them do the bagging in plastic of all things. To top it off, some bags, they only put one item in. After everything was said and done, they used well over 15 plastic bags to deliver my stuff. Far to many for someone trying to cut down on waste. I saved the bags and will drop them off in the recycling bin at my next store trip, but this is supposed to make my life easier, not add more work.

As for the produce, it can out pretty well. While the avocados were a little on the small side, they picked some of the largest plum tomatos I've ever seen. Everything was fresh and unblemished looking.

Overall, I'd give them 1.5 thumbs up - good marks on quality and ease of use, but definatly lost ponts with the plethora of plastic they delivered with my groceries.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Madeleine's punk sister Madelime : TWD

“Have it jest as you've a mind to, but I've proved it time on time, If you want to change her nature you have got to give her lime.”

Rudyard Kipling

In a fit of culinary searching this week, I tried 5 different stores, including a Michael's and a Linens and Things looking for a Madeleine pan, to no avail. Apparently People around here aren't big on shell shaped french cookies. Amusing considering its a beach resort area.

While I'd never owned a Madeleine pan, I knew them to be fairly shallow, with a tapering edge to the shell. Michael's had every shape imaginable (Dora the Explorer Madeleine anyone?), so I finally settled on a 12 cavity shallow heart shaped pan.

In past weeks, I've been sticking to the recipes for the most part, trying to get a feel for Dorie's style before experimenting. This week, I threw caution to the wind with my hopes of finding a Madeleine pan.

Not only were these NOT going to be shell shaped, I wanted them to be GREEN! I'd recently purchased a tin of Matcha (Green tea powder) and was interested to give it a try. I figured a lime-green-tea combo would be tasty.

I set about mixing up the bright green dough and letting it chill, then buttered the heck out of the little non-nonstick pan, and crossed my fingers. Putting a little dollop of dough in each well, I learned after the first batch that 'less is more' in having them retain their little heart shapes and not overflow the lip of the pan.

In the end, they worked out pretty well. The green color is a little masked by the gently browned edges, but it still gives a nice punch of color and a subtle flavor to the buttery morsels.

I would definitely make these again, though I'd want to find a genuine pan first. While the hearts worked out, I had to quickly pry the cooked hearts out, lest they stick to the pan. The husband gave them two thumbs up as well.

Non-Traditional Madelimes

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

½ cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon Matcha (Green Tea Powder)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, matcha and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lime zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE:Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.
makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

serving: Serve the cookies when they are only slightly warm or when they reach room temperature, with tea or espresso.

storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they really are better on day 1. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they'll keep for up to 2 months.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Florida Pie: TWD

In the words of the hubby:

"This is like... the best key lime pie I've ever had in my entire life."

I don't think I could top a review like that.

Simply said, this is a divine little pie. I'd never tried making a key lime pie, but was excited for this week's challenge. Since my store doesn't carry fresh key limes, I opted for the jarred stuff, but you could hardly taste a difference.

The color threw the husband a little off - we're used to more of a bright green thats probably produced with some nice artificial coloring. But without the color added, we could pretend it was healthier... right?

This is a definite keeper, though next time I might leave out the coconut in the meringue. While it was tasty, it added a little too much chewiness to the texture for my liking.

Florida Pie

1 9-inch graham cracker crust (page 235), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, seperated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 cup of sugar

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.

Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.

Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue:

Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.

Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Italian Baked Lamb Chops

Italian Grandmother's are great. I happen to have one, and they seem to have a long running tradition of being pretty handy in the kitchen. That, and making sure you eat, because to them, everyone looks like they are starving.

I don't have too many memories of cooking with my grandmother, since we lived about 2,000 miles away most of my childhood. But I do know she made a killer homemade gnocchi. And in return, I subjected her to my version of peach pie when I was 12 years old- A can of peaches, the juice cooked & thickened with corn starch, dumped into a store-bought crust, and baked. But she was very supportive of my endeavors.

Another great thing about Italian Grandmothers, they don't pay too much attention to pesky things like whether you are related to them or not. So while I did not get too much time in the kitchen with my own grandmother, I knew a few through various family friends and church events.

At one such church event, I met a little Italian grandmother that made this heavenly dish of baked lamb chops. Delicate, juicy, and layered with more onions, tomatoes, and garlic than you gan shake a fist at. And she was nice enough to take pity on my 14 year old culinary self, and wrote down the recipe for me.

15 years later, I have this recipe committed to memory, and it is my 'go to' recipe anytime I want to wow someone. Or if I want to spoil my dad when he's out to visit. Or pretty much any time I feel like I need a little grandmotherly love.

Cast of Characters:
This is pretty straightforward in the ingredient department. Other than the chops, everything else can be found in most any kitchen - sliced onion, chopped garlic, sliced tomatoes, grated Romano (or parmigiana, both work well) cheese, olive oil, salt (table works as well as sea), pepper, and Italian seasoning (or your own mix of dried basil/oregano/etc).

For the chops themselves, I've learned to try not to be too picky. Most grocery stores carry lamb chops in a limited selection, and I'll grab whatever looks good. These petite loin chops would be my first choice since they are lower in fat and gristle, and the thickness lends a nice juiciness to the dish. If loin chops aren't available, I'd recommend some shoulder round chops or rib chops. I wouldn't recommend the shoulder chops because they are pretty riddled in bone and gristle, and pretty hard to cut up and eat when layered under all the tomato-ey goodness.

So... to assemble this, we do it in three repetitive layers, plus a layer of chops. Depending on the size of your chop, I usually allot for 2-3 per person. So we want to pick a baking dish large enough to fit them all. Snug fitting is fine, they will shrink a bit as they bake. First we start by drizzling the pan with about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Lamb can be a fatty meat, so less is more with the oil. I usually use my pampered chef pump spritzer for this.

Next, layer in 1/3 of the tomatoes. A nice even layer, allotting for at least one slice under each chop, or just evenly spread about.

Next, we add 1/3 of the sliced onions, and 1/3 the chopped garlic. The more the better as they definitely add a punch of flavor to the dish.

Finally, we add a liberal dash of the Romano cheese, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

On top of this, lay the chops.

Repeat the oil - through - seasoning layers.

Repeat them one last time. The more the better here, the less you can see of the chop, the better.

Now, take this multi layer wonder and put it in the oven at 350 deg f for 40 minutes. Set about making some risotto, and try not to gain 20 lbs simply smelling the chops as they meld with all the flavor.

After 40 minutes, we're not quite done. Take out the chops, and turn the oven up to 375 deg f. Now we want to drizzle the chops with some white wine. The Nice Italian grandmother wrote 1/4 a cup, but honestly, I just drizzle straight out of the bottle, whatever you have in the house. This week I happen to have cooking wine. We're more of a red wine drinking household, so I usually keep white cooking wine on hand. But whatever white you have on hand is fine. Heck, I've used Saki in a pinch, and it still tasted great.

After a healthy drizzle pop the chops back in the oven for 15 minutes.

NOW they are ready.
Serve with a spatula to get up as many of the 'extras' with each chop. The baking has made them all meld into a melt in your mouth nirvana of flavor.

Enjoy. And try not to eat the whole pan on your own. Maybe invite your own italian grandmother over, and make her proud.

Italian Baked Lamb Chops

4 Lamb Chops
3 Tbs Olive Oil
3-4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 md Onion, sliced
2 Tomatoes, sliced
3 Tsp Italian Seasoning Blend
3 Tsp Salt
3 Tsp fresh Ground Pepper
1/2 c Grated Romano Cheese
1/4 c White Wine


  1. Preheat Oven to 350 deg F
  2. This recipe is done in three layers of ingredients, construct in the following order: Drizzle a glass baking dish with 1 Tbs Olive Oil, 1/3 of the Chopped Garlic, 1/3 of the Sliced Onion, 1/3 of the Sliced Tomatoes, 1/3 of the Italian Seasoning, Salt, Pepper, and Romano Cheese.
  3. Lay the chops flat on this first layer of ingredients, then repeat the Oil, Garlic, Onion, Tomatoes, Seasonings and Cheese twice for a total of three layers altogether.
  4. Bake at 350 deg for 40 minutes, then drizzle with 1/4 cup White Wine. Increase heat to 375 deg, and cook an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with a spatula to get as many of the extra ingredients with the chop as possible, and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Peanut Butter Torte : TWD

This weeks challenge of a peanut butter torte, as soon as I saw the picture, was another dessert that immediately begged the question "Where can I bring this" so that I didn't end up with a giant calorie ridden sweet in the house tempting us.

A friend of mine is getting married in a couple weeks, and we were plotting her bachelorette party for Saturday evening, so I figured it the perfect opportunity to rid my house of this temptation.

Reading through the directions, the only step that worried me was the cool time since I knew I'd need to be out the door by 4:30ish to get to the party, and Saturday/Sunday are my big baking days. I'd hoped to get the ingredients Friday night to get an early start on Saturday, but you know what they say about 'best laid plans'...

Anyhow, I was able to put this together pretty quickly, with the help of a few time saving ideas (I did feel sorry for the make a wish people when pounding their contest note with my tenderizer for a speed 'chop'...). I was left with closer to 3 hours of cool time instead of 4, so I 'helped' things along by starting it in the freezer for about 45 minutes, then into the fridge to get a more regulated temperature.

It came out nice and chilled, and made its way to the party where there were many 'ooohs' over it. I had decided to add the leftover oreos to the top as a decoration as to cut down on the leftovers in the house, and I think it added a whimsical charm. I think Nabisco could make some good money if they produced peanut butter covered oreos.

I gave the bride to be a chance to slice into the cake, nice practice for the big day. Though if she gets that same maniacal look whilst holding the knife, If I were her new husband, I'd make a run for it (just kidding!).

The cake served up pretty easy on some nice beachy plates for munching as we moved into the next party game - a rousing version of dirty pictionary. My musically inclined husband, by the way, was quite proud when I relayed getting a quick win for "g spot" by drawing a bar of sheet music with a treble clef and a note on "G".

Peanut Butter Torte

1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.