Michelle Darmody: Peanut butter and chocolate are a perfect combination

Peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven. 

The first time I fell in love with the combination was when I worked in America for a summer. I was working behind the counter in an Italian inspired bakery that was stacked high with cannolis, biscotti and baked cheesecakes. The influence might have been Italian but the portion sizes were definitely American. One of the cheesecakes we served was peanut butter and chocolate, in typical fashion it was four inches thick and impossibly rich. I loved the job and made sure to taste test everything.

The cheesecake recipe included here is for a far lighter version than the heavy baked American peanut butter cheesecake. I make it with a smooth peanut butter but crunchy will do just as well.

You can get peanut butter that is made with one hundred percent peanuts and contains no other ingredients. It is better for you and for the environment than some of the brands that are laced with palm oil or with added sugar. Peanut butter is also great for savoury recipes. Mix with chilli, garlic, a little soya and coconut milk to make a satay sauce for chicken or vegetables.

A wider variety of good quality nut butters are becoming available in Ireland, like peanut butter they are simply spreads made with ground nuts. The high protein content makes them an ideal snack as they fill you up for the day ahead. I make my own almond butter by roasting the almonds and blitzing them until smooth, a little drizzle of honey and it is ready to eat.

No bake peanut butter and chocolate squares

160g of light brown sugar

250g digestive biscuits

150g butter

300g of crunchy peanut butter

50 mls of cream

100g of chocolate, broken into small pieces

Line a 20 cm square tin with parchment.

Blitz the sugar and biscuits until they are similar in texture to fine breadcrumbs.

Melt the butter and add the crumbs and peanut to the saucepan. Stir until combined.

Press the mixture into the base of the tin and place in the fridge.

Heat the cream in a saucepan and once it is beginning to shiver on top, stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the chocolate over the cooled base and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Cut into small squares and enjoy.

Peanut butter and ricotta cheesecake

60g of butter

200g of dark chocolate digestive biscuits, crushed

500g of ricotta cheese

175g of peanut butter

100g of golden caster sugar

5 leaves of gelatin, soaked in warm water

150mls of milk

Grease and line an 8 inch spring form or loose base tin.

Melt the butter and stir in the crushed biscuits. Press the mixture into the base of the tin and set aside in the fridge.

Beat the ricotta, peanut butter and sugar until smooth.

Remove the gelatin from the warm water and add it to the milk, in a saucepan. Gently heat until the gelatin has dissolved.

Beat the milk into the ricotta mixture and spread it over the chilled base. Place the cheesecake into the fridge until set.

Peanut butter and sea-salt cookies

110g of peanut butter

110g of butter

200g of golden sugar

1 egg

110g of plain flour

2 level tsp of baking powder

a few generous pinches of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment.

Beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugar until combined. Slowly beat in the egg.

Sift the dry ingredients and beat them in too.

Roll the dough into balls about three centimeters across and place apart on lined baking tray.

Press each ball flat with a fork and sprinkle with some sea-salt.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden.


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