I hope this finds everyone doing well for the Christmas season. I just finished putting together my individual White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecakes, my twist on the Cheesecake Factory's seasonal treat. I must say I have not had this cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory. I only saw their photo and description on their website. I took that as my inspiration, and I went with it.
Here is what I did. I made a cheesecake recipe and I added some Dove Chocolate Discoveries Frosty White Chocolate Smoothie mix into it for a bit of a white chocolate taste. I added Andes peppermint crunch and some mini chocolate chips to the batter. I then baked that in my mini cheesecake pan with removeable bottoms (key to making this mini size and assembly). I then made a batch of super fabulous cocoa brownies. I love this recipe because it is super rich, fudgey and moist. When they are cold they do not get hard, just more fudgey and decadent. Love them. So I cut out circles of the brownies for my cheesecake base. I adhered the cheesecake to the brownie with a little of my peppermint ganache. Then I poured a 1/2 tablespoon scoop of ganache on the top of the cheesecakes. Next, I cleaned the edges and drips with an offset spatula. I will be making a white chocolate whipped cream with the remainder of my packet of Frosty White Chocolate Smoothie mix to pipe high on top. I will finish them with a sprinkle of more peppermint crunch. As you can see this is a totally over the top, crazy dessert. I love it.
PLEASE NOTE: I don't have the whipped cream on these cakes yet. I will be doing that tonight when I bring them to the party. I will try to remember to take a picture, but this will have to do for now. Just imagine a pretty piped 1-2 inch high swirl of whipped cream with bits of peppermint crunch sprinkled on it. Now you know what it looks like finished. :)
Okay, so what would I do differently? I think that next time for the sake of the texture of the cheesecake, I will not do mini cheesecakes. Some of the cheesecakes turned out more creamy than others. Maybe I should have rotated the pan through cooking. Or maybe I need to put a water bath in the oven with them to provide a bit of moisture. This was the first time I used this pan and this recipe in that pan. I have used this recipe in mini muffin tins and it is great. I usually cook my standard size cheesecake in a waterbath. The texture it brings to the cheesecake is out of this world creamy. It isn't cakey like you get at most places. It is like custard almost. Just thick enough to slice, but smooth and creamy in the mouth and off the fork. This recipe I used is not that recipe though, but one I have for mini cheesecakes. It is similar in simplicity, and totally doable in a large cake. ( I won't give out my prized cheesecake recipe. I didn't make it up, but I am not going to tell you where to get it. A working pastry chef has to keep some recipe secrets.)
Next, I think that I would just do an Oreo crust. That would save a big step in not having to bake the brownies. The Cheesecake Factory version has an Oreo crust. Or maybe if you cooked the cheesecake in a regular 8 inch springform pan, you could bake a simple chocolate cake recipe in the same size pan and cut a thin layer to put the cheesecake on. You play with how difficult you want it to be.
I think I will make the ganache thinner so it is more like a glaze. That means using more cream or less chocolate than my recipe. Lastly, you could also just melt some white chocolate and put it in the cheesecake batter, or just leave out that flavor entirely. The peppermint kind of hides the subtle white chocolate flavor anyway. I was experimenting with my Dove Chocolate Discoveries products for selling ideas and tips.
Okay, so what do you think? Here are my cheesecake and ganache recipes. You decide on your cheesecake base: Oreo crust or cake crust. Or go naked, and eat your cheesecake without a bottom base on it. The ganache and whipped cream really are enough. Yes, you just read naked in my description. It refers to the cheesecake not you. Ha! Ha!
White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake:
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese (do not use reduced fat or fat free. Yuck!)
1/3 c. + 2 TBSP. sugar
1/3 c. Dove Chocolate Discoveries Frosty White Chocolate Smoothie mix
4 TBSP. sour cream
1/2 c. Andes peppermint crunch pieces
1/4 c. mini semi sweet chocolate chips or any chocolate cut into very small pieces.
Cream the cheese, sugar and smoothie mix together. Add eggs one at a time until just incorporated. Stir in sour cream. Lightly stir in peppermint crunch and chocolate chips. Pour into a buttered and parchment lined 8 inch spring form or cake pan. The butter needs to be on the sides of the pan, parchment on the bottom. This will allow you to unmold the cheesecake to put on your cake base. If you plan to use an Oreo crust, you will need to line your pan with that first.
Level off the batter, then bake at 350F for about 45 min. This is a guess on my part because I did not make a full size cake. You want the cheesecake to be set on the edges and slightly firm in the middle. It shouldn't jiggle when you shake it, but you should not see a lot of color on top either. Maybe just a little tan color on the very edges. Don't worry about cracks. The cheesecake will puff up and then sink as it cools. More room for a puddle of peppermint ganache I say. Check it along the way for the right doneness. It could take as long as 55 min. Again, just watch it. When it is done, simply take it out and let it cool on a cooling rack. Then chill it after about 30 min. You need it to chill for at least 4 hours, but I usually do it overnight.
Peppermint Ganache ( I have edited this to make it more glaze like.)
4 oz. semi sweet or dark chocolate. I used chocolate chips.
6 TBSP. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract.
Put chocolate and cream in a glass bowl, microwave for about a minute. Stir together till smooth. Add peppermint extract.
White Chocolate Whipped cream:
1 c. whipped cream
rest of Frosty White Smoothie packet
whip till stiff and pipeable.
If you make a cake layer for your cheesecake base, you need to cut the whole cake layer in half horizontally, as you really only want a thin layer of cake for your base. The main star should be the cheesecake itself. Anchor the cheesecake to the cake with a thin layer of ganache. I would just drizzle some ganache on the cake layer then put the cheesecake on top. No one will see it. It is just acting as glue. When you unmold your cheesecake, this is best done with a cake cardboard to unmold your cheesecake onto, peel off parchment, then place the cake layer on top. Place serving dish on top of this, and then turn over. Voila, you didn't crack or break your cake, it is layered, and the top side is now up.
Note: If that is confusing, you use your common sense to put your cheesecake together. Wish I could do a movie, but trust me I wouldn't do a good job on film. I am camera shy.
Next pour your ganache on top of the cheesecake and smooth out. You may not need all the ganache, just pour some on and smooth it out. You don't want a thick layer, just enough to cover the top. Now you can refrigerate this until serving time. At serving time, pipe on swirls of white chocolate whipped cream and sprinkle each swirl with more peppermint crunch.
Leave a message if you need help. Enjoy.
I hope to put together a copy cat version of The Cheesecake Factory's Reese's Peanut butter Cup cheesecake. It is even more over the top than this post. Wow!!