Do you ever get something in your head and then can’t find exactly what you were imagining? I’m horrible about this, especially when it comes to clothes and shoes, and it drives Eric crazy. I’ll decide what I want and get my heart set on this one perfect thing, so much so that nothing else seems like it will work. I’m guilty of this when it comes to recipes too, but at least I’m able to tweak them to get to the end result I pictured. That was the case with this cheesecake. I already imagined the final product in my head, but I needed a little help turning it into a reality.
I knew I wanted a chocolate cheesecake base, but all the peppermint cheesecake recipes I found used white chocolate. I decided to take a chocolate cheesecake and adapt it to have the peppermint flavor I wanted. Since I’ve never made a chocolate cheesecake, I asked my blogging friends for a recipe recommendation. Annie texted me and told me that she had the perfect recipe for me to try. I made a few changes to it in order to achieve the chocolate peppermint cheesecake I had in mind. Obviously, the first change was to add a bit of peppermint extract. Since I wanted this to be a peppermint mocha cheesecake, I increased the amount of espresso powder so that the flavor would really come through. Lastly, I used peppermint filled Oreos to make the crust and omitted the sugar since I knew the cream filling was plenty sweet enough. Next time I make this, I’ll press the crumbs all the way up the sides of the springform instead of just halfway because I couldn’t get the crumbs at an even height, which made the outside of the cheesecake look pretty sloppy. It still tasted phenomenal, and I’m sure I was the only one that noticed the less than perfect crust. I considered making a bark-style topping for the cheesecake but ultimately decided against it for fear it would be a pain to cut through. Pieces of double layer peppermint bark pressed into the cheesecake after chilling ended up being a fantastic alternative. Cheesecakes are intimidating to a lot of people, but I promise you they are not that hard. This one doesn’t even require a water bath (and still came out crack free). If you’re looking for a show-stopping dessert for your Christmas celebration, this is it.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: about 16 slices
For the crust:
2 cups finely ground peppermint-filled Oreos
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Freshly whipped cream and peppermint bark pieces for topping, optional
To make the crust, heat oven to 400º. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper. Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl and stir with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Transfer the crumbs to the prepared pan. Gently press the crumbs up the sides of the pan, then use a glass or other flat-bottomed object to press the crumbs into an even later on the bottom. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decrease oven temperature to 300º.
To make the filling, combine the sour cream, vanilla, peppermint and espresso powder in a small bowl. Whisk to blend and set aside. Melt the chocolate, either over a double boiler or in the microwave, and set aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, cocoa powder and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating 2-3 minutes more, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and beat on medium-low speed. Add the sour cream mixture and mix until evenly blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the center jiggles just slightly. Cool on a wire rack for 1-2 hours, then cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
To serve the cheesecake, carefully unmold the sides of the springform. Top with whipped cream and peppermint bark, if desired. Run a long, sharp knife under hot water to warm it, then dry with a towel. Cut into thin slices (this is a rich cheesecake, after all) and clean the knife, reheating as necessary, in between each slice. Serve chilled.