AMBOY – Joyce Schamberger makes a killer cheesecake.
Rich peanut butter cheesecake topped with gooey marshmallows, smooth peanut butter, and crunchy peanuts.
“It’s rich. It’s like eating peanut butter fudge,” Schamberger says. “It’s best with a piping-hot cup of coffee.
“That’s how I like it.”
It’s a little bit sweet. It’s a little bit salty. But it’s a whole lotta homemade and straight from the mind, heart and kitchen of a small-town amateur baker.
And it can come straight from yours, too. The recipe appeared in the May edition of Taste of Home magazine and is available on the Taste of Home website.
A couple of years ago, Schamberger, 54, of Amboy submitted her recipe for sweet-and-salty peanut butter cheesecake to the Taste of Home website. Then, last fall, she received an email from the Taste of Home folks; they wanted to include her recipe in a spring edition of their magazine.
And a few months ago, she received an email from the folks at HGTV; they want to feature her cheesecake on television, too.
“It’s very flattering,” she says. “I hope it inspires people.”
Schamberger by day is the principal at Amboy Junior High School, and by night is a hostess and server – and resident dessert maker – at her family’s restaurant, the Long Branch Saloon, 55 S. East Ave.
Her cheesecakes – and, really, many of her other desserts – are locally famous.
“Yeah, …” she says, modestly, passing off the label. “I don’t know if there’s anything special about them. They’re just good homemade cheesecakes.”
Schamberger gets her inspiration from old cookbooks, from other desserts, from candy bars.
“The recipe that I use is the same basic recipe every time,” she says. “I just change out the ingredients.”
Schamberger rattled off a few variations: chocolate truffle with fresh raspberries, chocolate chip, peanut butter cup, crème de menthe, lemon, key lime and, the one that started it all, a classic New York-style with sour cream on top.
“We started out with a basic New York-style … and went from there,” she says. “There are no limits.”
Schamberger is well known for other desserts, too, such as her “darn good” chocolate cake, angel food cake, and bread pudding with Jack Daniels caramel sauce. All three made-from-scratch desserts are staples at the restaurant.
Her appearance in Taste of Home, which bills itself as the No. 1 food and entertaining magazine in the world and boasts a circulation of more than 3 million subscribers, has garnered Schamberger and her show-stopping cheesecake a little bit of attention.
“I’m not used to all the attention,” she says. “It’s kind of overwhelming. But it’s thrilling, too. It’s just very flattering.”
Joyce Schamberger's Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Cheesecake
1 16-ounce package Nabisco Nutter Butter cookies
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 10-ounce package peanut butter chips, melted
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped and divided
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a greased 10-inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about an 18-inch square), and wrap the foil securely around the pan.
Place the cookies in a food processor, and pulse until they are finely crushed. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, then stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Then, beat in the melted peanut butter chips, condensed milk and vanilla. Add the eggs, then beat on low speed just until blended. Pour the filling onto the crust.
Place the springform pan in a larger baking pan, and add 1 inch of hot water to the larger pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 45-55 minutes, or until the center is just set and the top appears dull. Then, top with the marshmallows, and bake 2-3 minutes longer, or until the marshmallows are softened.
Remove the pan from the water bath. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan with a knife, then remove the foil. Cool the cheesecake for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the peanut butter, corn syrup and butter. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until it is blended. Remove the mixture from the heat, then stir in the vanilla. Sprinkle 1 cup of peanuts over the cheesecake, then top it with the peanut butter mixture.
Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight, covering it when it is completely cooled. Remove the rim from the pan. Sprinkle the remaining peanuts over the top.