Near Disaster Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
Christmas is one of those times where I allow myself some exceptions to my diet. I mean how can I resist? Cookies? Cake? Gingerbread houses? Of course! Since I can really only eat so many sweets before I break out, I'm quite particular about the type of sweets. Cookies are ooookkkk, but...I'm a weakness for cheesecake. Since one of my friends invited me and my husband to a Christmas party this past December, it was perfect excuse to whip one up.
To those who know me, they know that I'm not the one for shortcuts. I've come to enjoy cooking from scratch, so when the husband suggested I used the instant stuff, I cried no way! How hard can making a cheesecake be?
I found a recipe online for peppermint bark cheesecake, made my way to the grocery store, bought the ingredients, and set to work:
- 1 3/4 cups vanilla wafer cookies
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 32 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 12 ounces peppermint bark, chopped
- Whipped topping
- crushed candy canes and chocolate
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Crush your cookies! I've been obsessed with this mortar and pestle so I thought I'd use that to crush it in a large bowl. Of course halfway through all the clanging (I personally didn't think it was THAT loud) my husband comes in to tell me that there's a quieter and easier way to do this:
Put the cookies in a clear plastic bag and use a big rolling pin to crush it! Why didn't he tell me sooner? Make sure the cookies are crushed until they are fine crumbs, supposedly it'd be easier to smush into the pan.
3. Mix crumbs with the sugar. Then slowly add the melted butter and mix together. Put mixture on bottom of springform pan (after you grease it! You can also put a piece of parchment paper along the bottom so you can take the cake out easier without messing up the crust) and press down to make sure it is all even. Some recipes call for using the bottom of a glass to help you, I just used my hands. Bake for 6 minutes, then let cool.
4. While crust is cooling, beat cream cheese and sugar in a mixer on medium heat until cream cheese is fluffy. Add in one egg at a time until it is all incorporated. Stir in sour cream and peppermint bark (because I was too lazy to make the bark myself, I just put in crushed candy canes and chocolate chips. Feel free to buy some peppermint bark or make your own. ).
5. Bake for one hour, and leave in oven (with it turned off!) for another hour.
When I pulled out my cheesecake, I of course naturally freaked out when I saw this:
I fussed over it and kept yelling saying it was probably inedible and I would have to make it over again. Trying to make me feel better, the husband took off a little chunk and said it tasted fine. I tried a little bit and concluded that it did too. So I hopped on my computer to see what I could have done wrong.
Turns out, you can't put that much air into the batter, or else the cheesecake will rise and crack when cooling down. My cheesecake rose all right! I may have beat the cream cheese a little too much and a lot of air got into it. I also put in the cream cheese while it was still in the mixture, which could have added to that too. Another tip I read was to tap the sides and bottom of the pan after you pour the batter in, and let it rest for 5 minutes. I'll have to remember that for next time.
Since it tasted fine, I figured all I have to do is just make sure it looks good when I bring it over to the Christmas party. So I took a long knife and cut off the burnt and poofy pieces off the top. I then took a little knife and ran it around the edge, so when the cheesecake cools it won't stick to the sides and crack it more.
If you have a cooling rack, put the cake on that and let it cool for 1-3 hours at room temperature. This is what my cake looked like after cooling for 3 hours:
Not bad huh? I was feeling a bit more optimistic about it. I then left the cake in the pan and stuck in the fridge overnight to cool it down even more.
6. Time to decorate! After taking the cake out of the pan, I took out my trusty pestle and mortar again and crushed about 7 small candy canes. Not too fine, you want to see the candy cane!
7. Smush (is this a real word?) the crushed candy around the sides of the cake. I did this because the sides didn't look terribly appealing, you can always skip this step if you wish.
8. Take your whipped topping and swirl it around. Top off with shaved chocolate and more candy canes.
Here's what my cake looks like now. Isn't it pretty? Let it chill for a few more hours before serving. The cheesecake still tasted delicious, but it could have been more dense. Everyone seemed to like it. Little did they know the effort it took in order to make it look the way it did.