Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cake of the Week: White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

Ok so I know that Christmas is technically over, and I should be blogging about diet desserts to help us all lose those holiday pounds...BUT you probably have some leftover candy canes hanging around, and might even have another one or two holiday events before the year is up. And I'm not going to sit on this recipe until next December. (Withholiding delicious? Not I!) Plus, what do the Christmas movies all tell us? Keep Christmas with you all through the year. Duh. (Go ahead, listen to that song and feel wonderful.)

All of this justifying is probably unnecessary though. I have faith in my readers. Faith that you don't care what the season is, becuase you know that delicious desserts are delicious -- all year round. So do yourself, your family, your friends, your co-workers (ooh can I work with you???) a favor and make this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

A small piece...but note the extra space on my plate for all the other things!

I made it this year for the whole family Christmas dinner. In my family, we open stocking and immediate family presents at home in the morning, then alternate years between my aunt/uncle/cousins' house and my parents to host Christmas dinnner. This was their year, so after an eventful (and rainy) morning, we drove down to Menlo Park in the afternoon. 

We chit-chatted over cheese and crackers for a bit until it was time for Round 1 of presents (it sounds like a boxing match, but I swear we're very civil.) (Oh wow, 10 points to me for not actually working that pun. Sister1 would have.) Presents are opened youngest to oldest, so finally, after 16 years of being the starter, my youngest cousin has been displaced by a certain almost-three-month-old Liam

Liam in his Christmas jammies.

Then we feast on roast beast! (Not pictured. Desserts are so much more photogenic.)

Cheesecake, Fudge, Almond Cookie, and Fruitcake.

Then we do Rounds 2 and 3 and 4 (and 5? Sometimes there are 5!) of presents. Opening one by one so everyone can see. 

And then, once our stomachs have settled a bit, it's dessert time. Sister1 made a cookie assortment, Auntie Robin makes her famous fudge (Sister2, what's your fudge consumption record?), Grammy Jean rocks the fruitcake (I love fruitcake), and I made this cheesecake. 

It's not very tall, but makes up in flavor for what it lacks in height (says all short people everywhere haha). At first I though the tangy creaminess of cheesecake would be weird with peppermint...but it's not. It may seem like you're adding a lot of mint, but the resulting flavor is actually very light. 

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

(Adapted from Baked by Rachel)

Crust Ingredients:
  • 2C chocolate cookie crumbs (or 22 regular oreos with filling – not double stuffed)
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
Filling Ingredients:
  • 3 – 8oz containers or blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1C sugar
  • 4oz (about 1/2 cup chips) white chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream (OR I used half and half)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 batch peppermint bark, made thin or roughly 1 1/2C chunks 
  • If you're making the peppermint bark: 
    • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil divided
    • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract divided
    • 1 medium-sized candy cane, crushed)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Extra peppermint bark for garnish

Peppermint Bark directions:
  1. It’s best to do this step a couple hours ahead. Melt 4oz (about 1/2 cup) chocolate with 1/2 tsp vegetable oil. Mix in 1/8 tsp peppermint extract. Spread thin over a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with half the crushed candy cane pieces. It doesn’t need to be perfect, remember it’s getting chopped up and going in something. Chill for 15 minutes.
  2. Melt 4oz (about 1/2 cup) white chocolate with 1/2 tsp vegetable oil. Mix in 1/8 tsp peppermint extract. Spread over chilled dark chocolate. Sprinkle immediately with crushed peppermint candies. Chill for at least 15 minutes. Longer is better. (*when melting chocolate, if using a microwave be sure to use the 30 second 50% power method stirring well after each 30 seconds).

Cheesecake directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9″ spring-form pan with two sheets of tin foil. In a food processor, blend cookies until only fine crumbs remain. Add melted butter. Give a quick blend. Transfer crumb mixture to spring-form pan. Shake to disperse crumbs. Using a flat bottom cup, press down to create an even crust. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees.
  3. Cut up peppermint bark into small pieces. Set aside.
  4. Begin melting 4oz (1/2 cup chips) white chocolate. Using a double boiler or heat safe bowl, melt over simmering water. Stir until fully melted. Using the microwave, in a heat safe bowl microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power until fully melted. Stir well after each interval.
  5. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar. Mix well. Scrape bowl well prior to each new addition and as needed. Add melted chocolate, flour, whipping cream, salt and peppermint extract. Mix well. On medium/low speed, add one egg at a time. Mix until smooth and blended well.
  6. Add peppermint bark pieces, stir by hand.
  7. Transfer spring-form pan and cooked crust to a larger pan, such as a large roasting pan. Pour filling into crust. Add enough hot water to reach half way up the sides of your spring-form pan. Carefully place in center of oven. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Turn off the oven. Keeping the door shut, leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional 45 minutes. Remove and allow to sit for at least 1 hour before chilling.

Topping directions:
  1. When the cheesecake is completely chilled (you can do this the next day), carefully remove side of spring-form pan. 
  2. In a small bowl mix sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. 
  3. Spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake.
  4. Before serving, sprinkle with extra peppermint bark pieces (wait to do this until right before serving, otherwise the candy cane bits might bleed into the cheesecake and make the top look like it's spotted pink.)
  5. Cut with a sharp knife dipped in hot water before slicing.

Cheesecake, Fudge, Almond Cookie, Peppermint Pattie Stuffed Chocolate Cookie. (Note that the previously pictured fruitcake has been replaced/eaten.)