Peanut butter cheesecake

This blog is not dead, it’s just, um…sleeping.  And I’m rousing it (possibly briefly) to share with you a recipe.  For Reese’s peanut butter cup cheesecake.

Yes, you read that right.

I’m blogging much more frequently these days at Evidence-Based Skeptic, but cheesecake doesn’t quite fit with that does it? It doesn’t really fit with a fitness blog either, but sssssh.

I made this cheesecake for my lovely other half’s birthday, and the most challenging thing was the recipe.  How exactly does one know how many whole oreos to use to make 4.5 cups of crumbs?!  How do you know how much butter to cut from the block, so that once melted it’ll be half a cup?!  Fear not – I’ve done the experimenting (and googling) for you, and I present you with my simplified (reasonably idiot-proof) recipe.

You will need

an 8″ spring form tin

a set of measuring cups

a blender or food processor (not essential)

scales (not essential)

couple of mixing bowls

various spoons for mixing & scraping

lots of time (an hour or so for prep, 90 mins in the oven, an hour to cool, and 4 hours in the fridge)

For the crust

2 packets of oreo cookies (28 in total)

1/3 cup melted butter (roughly 85g – you could measure with a scale, or use the lines on the pack to guesstimate how much to use – precision isn’t crucial here)

2/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts (I used mixed chopped nuts)

For the filling

600g cream cheese (two large packs)

3 eggs (mine were medium-sized, seemed to work fine)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (mine was light brown)

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

1/3 cup whipping cream

2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped into pieces (I cut each one into 6 pieces, like tiny pie slices)

For the topping

1/4 cup sour cream

1/3 cup sugar (I used caster)

To make the cheesecake

  1. Crush the oreos into crumbs. A food processor will do this easily, but my rickety old jug blender also managed just fine, about half a pack at a time. Alternatively, shove them in a bag and use a rolling pin to bash them into submission.
  2. Add the nuts and crushed oreos to the melted butter, and mix ’til you have a warm, heavenly-scented bowl of excellence.
  3. Grease the spring-form pan, then use a metal spoon to press the oreo mixture onto the bottom and sides. Wrap the pan in a layer (or two, or more) of tin foil to stop water getting into it later.
  4. Dump the cream cheese into a large bowl and mix until soft (if you take it out of the fridge an hour or so in advance, it should be plenty soft enough).  You can use a food processor for this, but it is very easy to do by hand too.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix thoroughly after each one.
  6. Add the sugar, peanut butter, and cream, and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla extract.
  7. Fold in the chunks of nine chopped peanut butter cups, then pour the whole lot into the prepared oreo crust.
  8. Place the foil-wrapped cheesecake dish into a roasting dish (or other receptacle large enough to hold it), and fill the outer dish with hot water, so that the water comes about an inch up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
  9. Pop into the oven at gas mark 1 (275F, 135C) for about 90 minutes, until it’s reasonably well set, and golden brown on top.
  10. Just before the 90 mins is up, mix together the ingredients for the topping.  Once the timer’s up, spread the topping on the cheesecake and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  11. Carefully remove the cheesecake from its water bath and foil, and leave the whole thing on a wire tray to cool for an hour (about half way through this time, I cut up the remaining three peanut butter cups, and used them to decorate the top). When the hour’s up, move it to the fridge for at least four more hours (preferably more – mine was still gooey in the middle after four hours. Maybe overnight is your best bet).
  12. Run a knife round the edge of the cheesecake to release it from the tin, then carefully remove the springform.  Enjoy peanut buttery goodness 🙂

The original of this recipe can be found here.  It demands a 10″ tin and uses larger quantity, so if you want a truly epic cheesecake that’s the one to go for.  As a nerdy sidenote, I was rather proud of myself when I converted the recipe from the 10″ to the 8″ pan with a simple application of trusty geometry – area = pi*radius squared, and since the depth of a cake tin doesn’t vary much, the 8″ pan has about 2/3 the volume of the larger one.  The quantities I’ve quoted above aren’t exactly 2/3 of the original, but my cheesecake was delicious nonetheless.

Stats

I am getting worryingly interested in the stats offered by wordpress about my blog.  There is something mystical about being able to see what search terms someone has used to find my tiny little corner of Teh Interwebz, but something dangerous too.

By far the most commonly used term to find me is “kettlebell pentathlon”.  This is gratifying, since it’s something I’m interested in and it’s nice to share it with people.  But it also makes a tiny little bit of me spam those words over EVERY SINGLE PAGE just to see what happens.  This part of me must not win.

It is also apparent that one day this week someone, somewhere on facebook linked to my blog, because I got well over 100 hits in one day, and most of them were on my pentathlon post.  And I have no way of telling who, because the referrer was just “facebook.com”.  That same little part of my soul wants to start trawling facebook to find out WHO WAS IT!!???!!1!!

But it won’t win.  I hope….

Emergency post

This is a spur-of-the-moment, emergency blog post in order to avoid breaching the terms of The Blog Pact.  It’s been a busy weekend, and I have much to say, but I cannot guarantee that I’ll stay awake long enough to say it.  Hence the emergency post.

I shall endeavour to tell you tales of London, cosplay and free stuff in the very near future, but in the mean time you shall have to be satisfied with this little piece of awesome, which made me happier than I care to admit.

A well-earned chillout

Greetings, blogosphere!

This is the first afternoon I can remember in a very long time where I don’t have something that has to be done right NAOW!!1!  It’s nice, if I’m honest – very nice indeed!

There’s not much to report on the training front, apart from another pentathlon attempt.  My scores (all with 12kg) were:

  • Clean – 120 (+30 seconds spare)
  • Long cycle press – 60 (+1m14s)
  • Jerk – 113
  • Half snatch – 108
  • Push press – 120 +4s
So that’s every lift lift maxed, except the jerk, for a total of 781.5 points.  Quite a long way to go to reach the necessary score to enter the “extreme” category!  Once again I didn’t have a 16kg pro-grade bell available, and the first two lifts are clearly far too easy with 12kg.  I’m currently occupied with brushing up on my excel syntax, and building myself a spreadsheet to help plan what reps I need to reach.  Geekgasm 🙂
Other than that I’ve done nothing but join in with the occasional kettlebell class (coaching more than training lately though), and eating an unreasonable amount of baked goods.  My fiancé’s mother has been very ill, so between that and working full time, we are struggling just to get enough sleep most days.
So a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do is just about perfect 🙂

***tumbleweeds***

So…hi?

Anyone still here?

Thought not.  But then I only ever amassed about 3 followers anyway, so there was never much to lose!  Now the question is, where to begin?  It’s been practically a year since I had both time and inspiration at more or less the same time to post a blog entry, and while it feels a lot has happened, not much has changed.

Still got the same job (I write documents about medicines for the NHS, and occasionally try to give some phone advice).  Tony and I are still merrily procrastinating about actually organising a wedding (now at the point where dragging a couple of strangers off the street for witnesses followed by a Chinese takeaway sounds pretty damn good).  Still running regular kettlebell classes, though I suppose technically I’m now a kettlebell sport instructor too.

What’s changed?  Well we’ve moved, twice.  After a set of nightmare neighbours followed swiftly by a set of nightmare landlords, we’re now happily ensconced in working class suburbia – there are kids who play in the middle of the road and curtain-twitchers and everything!  And…that’s about it.  It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster year emotionally, but those are lots of stories for other times.

So if there’s anybody still out there….hi!  Thanks for sticking with me!  I can’t say for sure what direction the blog will go in from here, but I’ve been challenged by the lovely @gunshotglitter_ to keep to a posting schedule of at least once a week, so let’s see what happens shall we?  You can find her blog at Baking Beautiful, and our colleague Vince is joining in too.  If nothing else, it’ll be a good laugh.

Tally ho!

Bulgarian Bags

Hello!

Yep, turns out my blog was just sleeping, not dead.  I’ve thought of a lot of things I wanted to post over the months, but yesterday I saw something cool enough to actually kick me into gear and do it.

Ever seen a Bulgarian bag?  They’re an awesome training tool, but not cheap.  A small one will set you back £150, and it only gets more expensive from there.  Obviously a lot of what you’re paying for is craftsmanship and the quality of the materials.  But what if you just want to have a go and see if you get on with this method of training?

A friend of mine has made a few of his own, following instructions that can be easily found online, and while the quality is certainly not what you’d get if you laid down some hard cash, the end results are still pretty awesome.

The recipe is also incredibly simple, and the finished item is pretty durable – which it needs to be if it’s to be swung and slammed.

The basic ingredients:

  • An inner tube for a car.  The bigger the tube, the bigger the Bulgarian bag.
  • Some big, sturdy cable ties.
  • Rubber mulch/pellets, builders sand, or something similar to fill the bag.  Make your choice based on how heavy you want the finished product to be, or make a mixture to fine-tune the finished weight.
  • Gaffer tape.

And that’s it.  Assembly couldn’t be simpler either; cut out a small section from the inner tube, to get rid of the valve. Use a cable tie to tie off one end, leaving 6-8 inches of free rubber.  Fill with your choice of filling, then cable tie the other end too.  Add an extra cable tie to each end for maximum security, then get the roll of gaffer tape and wind it round the loose ends.  This covers the cable ties (potentially ouchy), and gives you a nice neat end to hold on to while the bag’s in use.

And that’s really it.  They’re not pretty, but they’re solid and they do the job.  There are 4 at our little studio now, of varying sizes and weights, and I have a feeling the family will be expanding rapidily!

40 Lifts for Lent

I’ve been banging on for a while now about a nice little challenge that I’m trying called 40 Lifts for Lent.  It’s inspired by a guy we know, who decided at about this time last year that he wanted to add an extra something to his training.  In his wisdom, he decided that , in addition to his usual routine of training, teaching kettlebell courses and running a business, he’d perform 40 lifts every day with his 40kg kettlebells.  See him chat about it in this video.

I’m not that brave.

But I’m giving it a damn good go with my trusty 16kgs.

It’s just as simple as it sounds; every day for the 40 days of lent I’ll be performing 40 lifts with 1 or 2 16 kg kettlebells.  On the days where I’m sore and tired that can be as simple as 40 double handed swings.  On the days when I want to go all out it’s a really fun target to reach.  For example, a couple of days ago…

  • 10 x 32kg DH swings (all the 16kgs were busy!!)
  • 10 x 32kg alternating swings (core KILLER)
  • 5 x double jerks with 2x16kg
  • 5 x double front squats with 2x16kg
  • 5 x stiff leg dead lifts with 2x16kg
  • 5 x double swings with 2x16kg

That was tough, and it felt awesome!

Of course this doesn’t mean that I ONLY do 40 reps every day, the 40 reps are there as a challenge, a way to push myself past what I would normally try.  I still join in at kettlebell class, I’m still taking the 100 pushup challenge, and I’m still trying to fit in barbell workouts where I can.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get to the gym.  Today’s plan; 40 double swings with two 16kg bells, followed by some heavy deadlifts. PB is still at 95kg, but I’ve got the century in my sights…

PS, I’ve been tweeting my workouts most days; for quick updates, just look for the #40lifts hashtag.

UPDATE: In my haste earlier I forgot to add that Tommy, the originator of the 40 lifts, wrote an ebook about his experience the first time round.  It’s an interesting read, both for those who already train with kettlebells and those yet to try it.

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