While scrolling through Instagram at my annual birthday hair appointment, I came across a cheesecake that stopped me in my tracks. It didn’t help that I hadn’t eaten lunch and was ravenously hungry; the worst possible time to look at pictures of food. I picked up the necessary 3 bricks of cream cheese on the way home and figured I could improvise for the rest. It called for an Oreo crumb crust, but I wanted more of an oatmeal cookie crust, and the chocolate whipped cream seemed like an unnecessary step when there are m&ms around.
If homemade cheesecake intimidates you, this is a great place to start – any cracks in the top are completely covered by the chunks of cookie dough, and the peanut butter ensures the cheesecake stays moist and neither too sweet or too tangy. The original recipe called for a water bath, but I just put a pan of water in the bottom of my oven as I do for Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake and, while some cracking did occur, who can tell in the end?
I have an abiding love for thick peanut butter oatmeal cookies and m&ms, so the cookie dough factor takes this cheesecake over the top for me. I’m not a lover of classic New York cheesecake in anything but the smallest of quantities, but fill that cheesecake with cookie dough, chocolate sauce and m&ms and I’m all in. So many more textures and a good mix of sweet and salty, with no strawberry or cherry sauce in sight.
The pictures do not do this recipe justice, since we had nothing but gray, rainy days in the couple days it took us to polish this off…but I think you get the idea.
You may want to invite some friends to share this – not only does that make it taste better, it also helps make a dent in a dessert that easily serves 16. Slice it thin – this is rich and intense as every good cheesecake should be, and it’s another step in winning me over to the side of all the cheesecake-lovers out there that I’ve never really understood.
- COOKIE DOUGH FILLING/TOPPING:
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup regular or quick-cooking oats
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips, regular or mini
- ½ cup m&m's
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1⅓ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¾ cup regular or quick cooking oats
- 24 ounces (3 bricks) cream cheese, softened (I used two full-fat and one low-fat)
- 1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup chocolate sauce
- FOR TOPPING:
- Peanut butter m&m's (optional)
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for the cookie dough until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract and peanut butter. Add flour, oats, and milk, and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and m&m's. Set the dough aside.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
- To make the crust, melt the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave, or in a saucepan over low heat. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and bake for 10 minutes.
- While the crust bakes, prepare the cheesecake filling: In a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, peanut butter, and flour on low speed until completely combined and smooth. Be sure to use low speed to reduce the amount of air added to the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, and mix on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing slowly to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
- When crust is done, remove from oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Set a pan of water (I use a 9x13" pan about half full of water) on the lowest rack of the oven and position the other rack in the centre of the oven.
- Pour about one-third of the filling into the crust of the cheesecake. Crumble about three-quarters of the cookie dough over the cheesecake batter, making an even layer. Drizzle half the chocolate sauce over the cookie dough. Spread the remaining cheesecake filling over the top and drizzle with remaining chocolate sauce.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, do NOT open the oven, but turn it OFF and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door still closed for another 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, crack the oven door open an inch or two and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30-45 minutes. This cooling process helps the cheesecake cool slowly to prevent cracks.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and top with the remaining cookie dough crumble. I also pushed big peanut butter m&m's in around the edge, but you could use whipped cream here as well, or just extend your cookie dough right to the edges. Let cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating until it is completely cool and firm, 6 to 7 hours (overnight works well).
- When the cheesecake is firm and you're ready to eat it, remove it from the springform pan and set it on a serving plate (I always leave the base of the springform pan under the cheesecake for stability). Slice and serve cold.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Best eaten within 3 days.