Christmas just got sweeter with this creamy Peppermint Cheesecake topped with crushed candy canes and peppermint whipped cream.
I’m in love with peppermint. I know I can order a peppermint mocha all year round and not just during red cup season at a certain coffee chain, but there’s something magical about taking that first sip all bundled up in your winter coat and gloves with snow falling like someone shook a snow globe while listening to Jingle Bell Rock on the radio. Ah who am I kidding? It’s still in the 50s! Soon people are going to be singing I’m Dreaming Of A Warm And Rainy Christmas rather than a White Christmas. Even though Mother Nature isn’t ready for Christmas, I am. This past weekend I hung out with some close friends in NYC. Since I’ve done all the tourist attractions from previous visits to the Big Apple, it was refreshing to see the city from the locals’ point of view.
Now that I’m ready for Christmas, it’s only fitting that I made a Peppermint Cheesecake because one – it’s cheesecake and two – I made a Gingerbread Cheesecake last year and needed a new holiday flavor. Ironically I don’t like eating candy canes that much because I’m not a fan of hard candy. However, crushed candy cane pieces on top of peppermint whipped cream is a whole different story, mainly because I don’t have to chew any big crunchy bites. Fun fact – when you crush candy canes in a food processor, a big cloud of white smoke will puff up when you take off the lid.
I was having a discussion with a friend about the differences between mint and peppermint, if any. Are they the same thing? When you buy fresh mint from a store, is that mint or peppermint? Can you even grow peppermint or is that an artificial candy flavor? Where does spearmint fit in? Are mint and spearmint the same thing? Why are there so many questions about mint?! Thank goodness other herbs aren’t this confusing. After some research, this is what I learned. When something is referred to as mint, the default is spearmint. I have a few cookbooks that use mint regularly in cooking, so I want spearmint for these recipes. When you buy fresh mint at the store, there’s a pretty high chance you’re buying spearmint, so it should be easy to find. The taste is pretty mild compared to peppermint, which is why spearmint is often recommended for savory dishes. Peppermint, which is more associated with dessert, get its cooling sensation from the naturally occurring chemical menthol. You can grow both varieties in your garden if you have one. I don’t use fresh mint in my recipes, so I rely on extracts for flavor, which of course you can buy either mint or peppermint extract. For this candy cane cheesecake, I used peppermint extract.
Items You May Need (affiliate links):
- 2 1/2 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 24 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened (do not sub fat free)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 candy canes, crushed
- Preheat oven to 350F. Have an 8.5 inch or 9 inch springform pan ready.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Pat into the bottom and roughly 2 inches up the side of the pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, for 1 minute each. Add the peppermint and vanilla extracts then beat for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the crust then bake 35-40 minutes or until the center is almost set (it'll move when the pan is shaken, but the top should be firm when you touch it). Remove from the oven and cool 1 hour in the pan.
- Carefully run a knife along the edge to loosen the cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the pan side before serving. Top with whipped cream (recipe below). Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- For the whipped cream: In a large mixing bowl (with whisk attachment if using a stand mixer), beat the heavy cream until thickened. Gradually beat in the sugar and peppermint extract then continue beating until stiff peaks form (when you pull the beater up, peaks will form and not fall over). Spread on top of cheesecake then top with crushed candy canes.
Source: Adapted from Taste Of Home
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