Peppermint Cheesecake

I can't believe that I have been blogging for so long and have not yet posted one cheesecake!! I do have a red velvet cheesecake cake, but no true cheesecake. Well considered this problem officially fixed today! Here is my first official cheesecake post, and it is a great one. My work had a work Christmas party a few weeks ago which included ugly sweaters, white elephant gifts, all that fun stuff. Obviously my first question is - what's to eat? It was potluck time, it was requested that everyone bring an appetizer or a dessert. This year it was time; Cheesecake time. 

I had stumbled across a cheesecake a few weeks earlier that for whatever reason had just caught my eye. On a whim I decided to just go for it. I went to the store and picked up cream cheese, ricotta, Oreos and candy canes and I am so glad I did. This cheesecake was so simple and turned out delicious. Creamy and light and silky smooth. A winner all around. 

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The original recipe included a graham cracker crust and was topped with fresh strawberries. Since it's December that wasn't quite right. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but as I was walking through the aisles at the grocery store my eyes caught on a package of peppermint Oreos and I knew what I was going to create - an Oreo peppermint cheesecake. I swapped out the graham crackers for peppermint Oreos, and added a hint of peppermint extract to the filling and voila! The perfect Christmas cheesecake was born! 

 
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Peppermint Cheesecake
Cheesecake Adapted from Lil cookie
Crust adapted from Crazy for Crust
Ingredients
For the crust:

  • 25 mint creme Oreos
  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 8-ounce packages (450 grams) cream cheese
  • 1 16-ounce (450 grams) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs

For coating:

  • 1 8-ounce container sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions
For the crust: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch springform pan with aluminum foil (alternatively, you can use a 9 inch, tall sided cake pan with removable bottom). 
In a food processor with a steel blade, process the Oreos until crushed into small bits. Add melted butter and process until combined and the mixture is damp and cohesive. 

Press the moist crumbs to the bottom and the sides of the pan and bake for about 10 minutes. (I found it easiest to do this with a metal measuring cup.) Cool for a few minutes at room temperature. Turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees. 

Meanwhile, make the cheese filling: Wipe the bowl of the food processor clean. Add the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar, peppermint extract, vanilla and salt and process until well combined. Add the eggs one by one, processing between additions until well incorporated. Add the flour and pulse a few times until the flour is incorporated into the filling.

Pour the cheese filling into the baked crust. Place cheesecake in the now 325 degree oven and bake for 60-70 minutes or until the cake is golden, a bit swollen and slightly vibrating in the center. Remove from the oven, turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake cool for about 10 minutes at room temperature.

While the cheesecake is baking prepare the coating: in a small bowl, mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla to a uniform mixture. Once the cheesecake has cooled about 10 minutes, pour the sour cream coating on top of the cake and return to the still-hot (but turned off) oven for 5-6 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating it for at least 7-8 hours (preferably overnight).

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I have to quick share these cookies while the sweet memories of Christmas are still not too far from everyone's minds. They were one of the cookies on the Christmas cookie platter this year, and were included in the bags I delivered to the neighbors. I do have to say that they were absolutely fantastic! A great double chocolate cookie is difficult to find. I've shared several on the blog, and while I adore my Death by Chocolate Chip Cookies, they have so much melted chocolate in them that they can be a little more expensive to make, not to mentioned incredibly rich (not that I'm complaining!). Finding a recipe with just cocoa powder has left me disappointed in the past, but these cookies are not included in that disappointment. 

These cookies are thick, soft, and super chocolatey. The addition of peppermint extract around the holidays is a wonderful touch, but they can be made without the mint flavor at any time of year. Throw in some espresso powder instead if you have it, another great combo. Dipping in some white chocolate sprinkled with candy canes was the perfect touch for Christmas, it really ups the festiveness of these already amazing cookies.

The only thing you want to make sure of when making these cookies is that you have at least a couple of hours to let the dough chill in the fridge before you shape into balls and bake. The dough is just too soft when it is first made. As long as you have the extra time these cookies are quick and easy to make. They really are a favorite of mine, a new go-to recipe when all I need is chocolate!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons (53g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 large candy canes, crushed

Directions
In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Switch to high speed and beat in the chocolate chips. The cookie dough will be sticky. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes - if the cookie dough chilled longer than 3 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This makes the cookie dough easier to scoop and roll.

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Scoop dough (I liked about 25 grams of dough each, if you have a scale, I made a few larger one first at 50 grams and I actually liked the look of the smaller cookies better) and roll into balls and place on the baking sheet.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes rotating once during bake time. The baked cookies will look extremely soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. They will slightly deflate as you let them cool. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Melt the chopped white chocolate in a microwave: placing the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Melt in 15 second increments, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Dip each completely cooled cookie halfway into the white chocolate and place onto a parchment or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top of the chocolate. Repeat with the rest of the cooled cookies. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator to help the chocolate set. Once set, enjoy!

Peppermint-Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Who doesn't love shortbread? It's just butter and sugar held together with some flour, how can you go wrong? Any excuse to eat butter is okay with me! I was at my favorite bakery a few weeks ago and they had bags of peppermint shortbread for sale. The cookies were calling to me, but I knew I could make the same thing at home so I resisted and went home to search the internet for a recipe. I found the perfect recipe in multiple places online. It originally called for espresso powder, so I just replaced that with some peppermint extract and my peppermint shortbread craving was satisfied. Combining the buttery goodness of shortbread with some chocolate, and then throwing in a little peppermint extract results in the perfect cookie. 

One of my favorite parts of this recipe was the method for rolling out the shortbread. When you first make the dough you throw it into a gallon size plastic bag and then roll it out to an even thickness right inside the bag. After a couple hours in the fridge all you have to do is cut the dough out of the bag and cut the cookies into whatever size and shape you want. Transfer to cookie sheet and bake. Super easy!

Peppermint-Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Adapted From 

Use Real Butter

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and peppermint extracts, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into little squares or rectangles. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.