Peppermint and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

A candy cane dipped in dark chocolate and whipped into a cheesecake?  Yes, please!  This recipe is inspired by my very good friend Samantha, who keeps me supplied with ideas for baking tasty treats.  It’s Christmas in a bite, and I think you will find it’s worth every bit of effort!

This recipe starts with the same basic cheesecake recipe we’ve been experimenting with for the last month; 3 large cream cheese, a cup of sugar, 3 Tbsp flour, 4 eggs, 2 tsp of vanilla and a cup of sour cream.   Once these are gently beaten together, add in about a cup each of those teeny tiny semi-sweet chocolate chips, and crushed hard candy peppermints.  Don’t worry if in the process of beating your peppermints to smithereens, you get a bit of peppermint powder.  Mix that in too!  You can also boost the peppermint flavor by substituting one teaspoon of peppermint extract for one of your vanilla teaspoons.  Our local store didn’t have any peppermint (WTH???), so I just omitted that part.  The flavor is more subtle, but still pepperminty enough.

peppermint-dark-chocolate-cheesecakeBut of course, before the filling is the crust!  Instead of using Nilla Wafers, I used chocolate graham crackers.  You know how in the box there are 3 wrapped blocks of cookie cards?  Well, one of those blocks is the right amount, once crushed, to add 4 tsp of sugar and 5 Tbsp of softened butter to for that wonderful base.  Mix well, press into the springform pan (I prefer a layer of parchment; helps make the cake easier to get out later) and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.  While it’s baking, make your filling.  Once you have the crust baked, wrap the pan in foil, fill it, decrease your oven temperature to 300 degrees, and bake for 80 to 90 minutes.  My oven takes 90 minutes; you should have a little jiggle but VERY little.  Oh, don’t forget your water bath!  I usually start a large pot of water boiling when I’m assembling the crust; by the time I’m ready to go in the oven with the actual cheesecake, the water is at a low boil and perfect for the water bath.

At the end of the 80-90 minutes, turn the oven off.  DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!  Leave it alone for 30 minutes, then remove it, remove the tinfoil, and place it on a few paper towels and right into the fridge to cool for several hours.

Now for the topping…ganache!  Take a 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chips, and a cup of heavy whipping cream.  Combine in a microwave safe bowl, and heat for 15-30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until the chips melt and the ganache comes together in a shiny river of chocolate heaven.  Stir, stir, stir.  I only heated this for a total of one minute, but probably stirred for 2 minutes.  You will think it’s just chocolate milk, and then suddenly you’ll see a ribbon of rich dark brown in the middle – stir stir stir some more!  You don’t have to get this super hot to bring it together.  This makes enough to top 2 cheesecakes.  If you didn’t make 2 cheesecakes, you can always refrigerate the rest of the ganache for ice cream topping, or strawberry dipping, or pretzel dunking… get the idea!  Sprinkle on a few more crushed peppermints, or some peppermint and white chocolate truffles….whatever you want to make your cheesecake shine.

peppermint-dark-chocolate-cheesecake-finishedMake this for the people you love.  It’s a decadent, sweet and chocolatey way to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays!


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