I've moved! Follow me over to The Balanced Baker.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I <3 Penzeys!

I've been hearing a lot about this fabulous spice store, Penzeys. I happened to run out of a number of basic staple spices at the same time, so I figured I'd check this place out. Turns out they have a store not too far from where I work, but they close really early and I wouldn't be able to make it in time. I decided to order from their website, dismayed at the thought of waiting 6-8 days for my box o' spices. Much to my surprise (and delight!), the box of goodies arrived in TWO days! (I think being close to their home state is key) :-)

I am absolutely in love with them... here's what I got:
Medium Hot Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Ground Cinnamon
Ground Nutmeg
Ground Cayenne Pepper
Ground Ginger
Vanilla Extract

Then some new things for me:
Herbs de Provence
Chinese 5 Spice Powder

The BEST part? They gave me a free 1.2 oz sample of their Southwest Seasoning! Also a copy of their latest magazine/catalog, that had a number of yummy recipes. If you are in the market for refilling some of your spice containers... definitely check them out!

We have tomatoes!!

I am very excited about our first venture into vegetable growing. Our only outdoor space is a small balcony, and last summer we had an abundance of herbs that did quite well out there. This year we decided to branch out and try some small vegetable growing. So, we got a small cherry tomato plant and a habanero pepper plant along with our regular herbs. I happened to notice today... we have tomatoes growing!! I am VERY excited by this as I really wasn't sure that we'd get any. I can't wait til they are ripe (and I hope a lot more come about). YAY!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Platinum Chef Challenge 7

It's that time again! This round was hosted by Dani of Make No Little Meals and the 5 ingredients were mint, bok choy, mango, yogurt, and panko.

I knew that I could make one dish that had all five, but I only truly love mint in a dessert, so I broke it up. I ended up making two dishes for this, dinner and dessert! (as well as spurring another fantastic idea!)

First, I made Grilled Shrimp and Crab cakes, with Grilled Bok Choy and a Mango Dipping Sauce. I love crab cakes and this was a different and interesting way to have them! I discovered that I love bok choy, and how have a fridge stocked with it! Grilling it was pretty easy, but I found that the tops (green parts) of the leaves aren't terribly hearty when it comes to the grill. I didn't find that part enjoyable to eat. The mango sauce was originally way to strong on the ginger, so I've paired it down for the posted recipe. Overall, they tasted great!
The dessert was a little harder to create. I started with a mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt recipe that called for spinach. I thought it was cute and gave it a shot...... but ultimately it was too spinach-y for me and I didn't care for it. I tried again without the spinach, but still didn't love it. So it was back to the drawing board. I decided to try and lighten up the Gooey Chocolate Cakes I made with the TWD crew, and found success (almost). I replaced butter with yogurt and achieved a wonderfully dense, moist cake, but there was not enough mint and it was lost in the final product. I increased it in the recipe listed below, but next time I'll probably just use peppermint extract to make sure it is strong enough (but such was off-limits for this challenge).

Grilled Shrimp and Crab Cakes with Grilled Bok Choy and Mango Dipping Sauce

For the Shrimp and Crab Cakes
~8 oz shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed; chopped
~8 oz lump crab meat
~1/4 cup plain yogurt
~1/8 cup chopped green onion
~few shakes of hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco
~1 egg
~1 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
~1 Tbsp lime juice
~2 tsp soy sauce
~2 tsp grated ginger root
~3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, plus additional for rolling

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing just until everything is incorporated. Form into patties or small balls (as I did since I wanted to grill them in my cages) and roll in additional panko. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set. Grill over medium heat for a few minutes on each side.

For Grilled Bok Choy
~about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
~1 clove garlic, smash or minced/grated
~1 tsp grated ginger
~4 bok choy, sliced in half and rinsed

Add garlic and ginger to evoo, allow to blend for upwards of 30 min to an hour. Brush cut sides of bok choy with the blended evoo. Place cut side down on grill over medium low heat for a few minutes (they don't need much).

For the Mango Dipping Sauce
~2 mangos, skin and seed discarded
~1 clove garlic, minced or grated
~1 tbsp grated ginger
~juice from 1/2 an orange
~juice from 1 lime
~2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
~1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
~1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
~1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
~Lime zest for garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a blender or food processor, pulse to combine. Pour into dipping bowl and garnish with lime zest.

Lighter Gooey Chocolate Cakes
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking, From My Home to Yours

~1/3 cup AP flour
~3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
~1/4 tsp salt
~4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, or chopped bar of chocolate
~1/2 cup drained plain yogurt (place about 1 cup yogurt in cheesecloth or coffee filter in a strainer, set over a bowl and refrigerate for several hours)
~1/4 cup heavy cream
~1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
~2 large eggs
~1 large egg yolk
~1/2 cup sugar

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter (or spray – it’s easier) 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, preferably a disposable aluminum foil pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. (I use 3 - 7 ounce ramekins sprayed with baking spray). Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together. Steep the cream and mint leaves together for a few minutes, being careful not to scalb/boil the cream. Combine with yogurt in a small processor or blend and pulse to combine. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the chopped chocolate and the yogurt mixture in the bowl and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until homogenous. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir (don’t beat) them into the eggs. Little by little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and yogurt. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups (or ramekins). Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. (18 minutes for the ramekins)

Transfer them, still on the baking sheet, to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. (There is no way to test that these cakes are properly baked, because the inside remains liquid.) Line a cutting board with a silicone baking mat or parchment or wax paper, and, after the 3-minute rest, unmold the cakes onto the board. Use a wide metal spatula to lift the cakes onto dessert plates.

I then poured a little leftover warmed chocolate ganache over the top, and garnished with some mint whipped cream.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

BB: Herb Baked Eggs

I was very excited to hear about a new blogging event, Barefoot Bloggers. This particular group seeks to prepare recipes from the wonderful Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa), twice a month. I'm certainly doing my share of baking around these parts, so an event to incorporate some cooking challenges seemed like a great thing.

The inaugural recipe is Herbed Baked Eggs. I was really excited about this as my husband loves eggs, and it just sounded so good! I followed the recipe, baked them up, took them out, made some toast, started snapping some pictures... then we finally settled down to eat. One touch of the spoon to the eggs and I knew we had a problem. These were *definitely* not cooked! I ended up popping them back in for another 5 minutes, which finally cooked the whites... AND the yolks. :-( I chalk it up to the bowls not being large enough for them to really spread out and cook quickly and thoroughly. The fact that I was using a toaster oven to broil *may* also have something to do with it. :-) Once they were properly cooked, we completely enjoyed our wonderfully flavorful bowls of herbed baked eggs. I certainly see more of these eggs in our future!

Herbed Baked Eggs, from Barefoot in Paris.

~1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
~1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
~1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
~1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
~1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
~6 extra-large eggs
~2 tablespoons heavy cream
~1 tablespoon unsalted butter
~Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
~Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TWD: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

This was a LOT easier than I thought it was going to be! I was a little nervous about making the brioche loaf, but I, uh, let the stand mixer do all the hard work. :-) Overall, the worst part about these was waiting so long to get to taste them! They were very yummy, and disappeared quite quickly at work, but in the future I might reduce the amount of honey because I found it to be too much.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
Chosen by Madam Chow of Madam Chow’s Kitchen
See more TWD bakers here!
Makes 15 buns

For the Glaze:
~1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
~1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
~1/4 cup honey
~1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)

For the Filling:
~1/4 cup sugar
~3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
~1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
~3 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 dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle 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 glaze 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 have 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.

What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):

~2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
~1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
~1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
~3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
~2 teaspoons salt
~3 large eggs, at room temperature
~1/4 cup sugar
~3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm.

To Make The Brioche:
Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This is a spin on the Old Time Vanilla Ice Cream, and is from the same website. It is, perhaps, not as peanutty as I'd like, but it is still OH so delicious and my husband absolutely loves it! Here I topped it with some caramelized peanuts leftover from Snickery Squares - yum!

Having made this recipe so many times, I've worked how to lower the fat content a bit. The resulting ice cream is still SO creamy and wonderful that you'd NEVER know you were missing anything!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from Doc Wilson's Ice Cream page

~1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg beaters)
~1/2 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
~1/2 cup peanut butter (I use chunky)
~1/8 cup sugar
~1/8 cup upacked brown sugar
~4 ounces heavy cream
~4 ounces skim milk
~8 ounces fat free half and half
~1/8 tsp salt
~1 Tbsp vanilla extract
~1/8 to 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I go by eye!)

~In a large mixing bowl whisk together egg and sweetened condensed milk. Add sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter, mix thoroughly. Then add heavy cream, milk, half and half, salt and vanilla extract.

~For the very best results (who wants anything less?), let the mix chill in the refrigerator for about four hours which allows the mix to "age" before freezing according to the directions with your ice cream freezer. In the last 5 minutes of mixing, add the chocolate chips.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Triple Citrus Chicken

This was pretty easy to throw together and grill. Light, refreshing, and versatile - we've also used it for chicken fajitas with grilled red onion/zucchini and some slice avocado (if you go that route - reserve a bit of the marinade before pouring it over the chicken... just before assembling fajitas, toss all your fajita mix ins with the marinade).

Just grilled....
Or in fajitas!

Triple Citrus Chicken
Enough for 3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

~1/4 cup lemon juice
~1/4 cup lime juice
~1/2 cup orange juice (I did fresh squeezed)
~1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
~handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
~2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
~1 jalapeno, seeded (if you don't like the heat) and minced
~few dashes of salt and pepper
~1 tsp chipolte granules

Combine all ingredients, pour over chicken. Marinate for 30-60 min. Grill chicken until cooked through. (Due to my LACK of grill skills, I do not have spectacular grill marks to show off) :-(

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TWD: Traditional Madelines

I had always secretly wondered what the story was with these "madeleines." Why the special pan? What are they, really? What do they taste like? I finally got my answer... wonderful, yummy, little pillows of lemony spongey cakey joy! (I still don't know what's up with the funky pan, though). There really isn't much else to be said!

I forgot to take a picture of these lovelies before packing them up for work, so all I have is a picture of them cooling (note the delinquents in back who spent a little too much time in the "sun").

Traditional Madelines
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
Chosen by Tara of Smells Like Home
Check out the other TWD bakers here.

(hopefully a recipe is forthcoming!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tasty Tools: Strawberry Mango Frozen Yogurt

This round of Joelen's Tasty Tools has us utilizing the mighty blender. Channeling some Platinum Chef inspiration, I decided I wanted to make some Strawberry Mango Frozen Yogurt. I had not yet crossed the frozen yogurt bridge with my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, so I figured now was the time! I started with a recipe from David Lebowitz for Strawberry Frozen Yogurt and doctored it up (read: added some mango) :-)

This has a wonderful flavor to it... not overly strawberry and not overly mango - a perfect blend! I did have the typical homemade frozen yogurt issue of it basically solidifying in the freezer instead of ripening to a nice creamy dessert, and I may play around with greek yogurt for the next batch, or drain the regular yogurt for a while before using it. Either way, it is a cool yummy treat perfect for the... almost summer days!

Strawberry Mango Frozen Yogurt
Adapted from: David Lebowitz
Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)

~1 pound (450 g) strawberries, rinsed and hulled
~2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
~optional: 2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch
~1 cup (240 g) plain, whole milk yogurt
~fruit from 2 mangos

1. Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.
2. Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and mango. Pulse the machine until the mixture is almost smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.
3. Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Beautiful Bones: Island Shrimp and Tofu Pizza

I was quite inspired by the latest round of Platinum Chef Challenge (#7) and had a few recipes in mind to try out. The first recipe (Crab cakes) turned out great, but I still wanted to try my back up recipe (shrimp pizza) because I'd really taken the time to plan it out and it sounded so good in my head. I was chatting about my dinner plans with the ladies from What's Cookin, and Elly asked if my pizza was for the Beautiful Bones blogging event. I had never even heard of it, but as I looked into it, I realized this recipe is perfect!

I made a 9 inch pizza (roughly) and got about six slices. Each slice packs 23% of the RDA for calcium and is broken down as follows:
~1/2 mango ............................... 10 mg
~8 large shrimp ......................... 30 mg
~ground flaxseed (1/4 cup) ..... 40mg
~yogurt (2 tbsp) ....................... 50 mg
~1 small bok choy ..................... 70 mg
~3 oz tofu ..................................150 mg
~3 oz goat cheese..................... 450 mg
~3/4 cup mozzarella cheese .. 600 mg
TOTAL ................................... 1400 mg / 6 slices = 230 mg per slice

Island Shrimp and Tofu Pizza
~ 9 inch pizza dough of your choice (I used a whole wheat that included some ground flaxseed in place of some flour to get a little more calcium) :-)
~extra virgin olive oil for spraying

For the mango sauce:
~1/2 of a mango, seed and skin discarded
~juice from 1/2 of a lime (I had exceptionally large limes, so if yours are small, feel free to use the whole lime)
~2 tbsp plain yogurt
~few dashes of hot sauce, such as Frank's

For the toppings:
~3-4 oz extra firm tofu
~1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
~juice from 1/2 of a large lime
~ 1 clove of garlic, minced, grated or pressed
~1/3 cup soy sauce
~about 8 raw shrimp, peeled and cleaned
~roughly 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), enough to coat shrimp
~1 baby bok choy, leaves separated and rinsed
~3 oz goat cheese, sliced
~3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Combine tofu, ginger, lime juice, garlic and soy sauce in a small bowl. Refrigerate to marinate for 30 min to 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for mango sauce in a blender and puree. Divide sauce, about 1/3 in a small bowl for coating shrimp, the remainder reserved for topping on the dough
2. Spray pizza dough with extra-virgin olive oil and place on the grill. As the dough cooks, it will firm up. Flip when it is firm enough. Meanwhile, place the panko in a shallow bowl or plate. Dip shrimp in mango sauce, then coat with panko. Grill shrimp, 2 to 3 min on each side.
3. When dough is ready and shrimp are done, remove dough for addition of toppings (or, if you are more talented than I, do so right on the grill!) Add the reserved mango sauce, about 1/2 the mozzarella cheese, then top with the tofu, bok choy, shrimp, goat cheese, then finish with remaining mozzarella cheese. Heat unil dough is finished and mozzarella cheese is melted. Slice and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TWD: Peanut Butter Torte

Holy heavens! This is one rich dessert! I made the mistake (blessing?) of calculating the nutritional information, and decided to skip the ganache topping since it would just be hubby and I eating it (he can handle the calories, I can't!). I left him 1/4 of this in the fridge, as I'll be away for business for a few days - I really hope it's gone when I come back! The rest is sliced and in the freezer... and will definitely be a once-slice-per(overthe)-week treat. Definitely rich and definitely decadent!

Problems (because I always have them): Definitely my first time working with this type of crust. I read some comments indicating it may take more than 24 oreos, so I added a few extra but didn't increase the butter (oops). I had a little difficulty getting it to stay up. I also try to get it unmolded without blow drying it... and some of it stuck to the pan. A lot of it crumbled off the sides when I tried to cut it, as well. I'm not really complaining because it cut a *few* calories off, but certainly something to make note of if I ever wanted to serve this to guests.

Peanut Butter Torte
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
Chosen by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food

~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)(I omitted)
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.