I thought I'd share a holiday baking recipe with you. Then, I figured that unless you consider Toaster Strudels holiday baking, I better call in some help. So, I gave my friend Kara (AKA the big guns) a call. Kara's like majorly awesome in the kitchen and in the world for that matter. She was kind enough to let me make a mess of her kitchen while she taught me all kinds of tricks and tips to make some out-of-this-world peppermint mini cheesecakes.
Tip #1: Buy good quality ingredients. Kara explained that with baking, a lot of the time, ingredients make a difference. So, buy the good stuff.
|This recipe has peppermint bark mixed in. This time of year, it's readily available. Check out our Facebook page this week for Kara's recipe!|
Tip #2: Have fun with your cheesecake crusts. For this recipe we crushed chocolate wafers (you could use Oreos - not the double-stuffed kind), butter, and some sugar. But, Kara said that for other cheesecake variations you could try Nilla Wafers or Ginger Snaps. Oh, and you can crush the cookies in a plastic bag with a can of soup.
|Before we put the crust into the spring pans we lined the bottoms with tin foil. Why, you ask? Stay tuned.|
|Kara showed me how to use the bottom of a glass to push the crust into the pan.|
Tip #3: Mix it up. Before my baking session with Kara, I just dumped all my ingredients into the bowl and started mixing. Well, those days are over. I learned that mixing each ingredient as its added to the bowl ensures that everything gets evenly distributed. I know, this is kind of common sense...but for me...ground breaking!
Tip #4: Melt in the microwave. When I saw all those chocolate chunks, I had visions of double broilers. But, alas, I was wrong again. Kara just melted the chocolate in the microwave. Oh, and she actually adjusts the power level to have more melting control. Who knew?
|Use good quality chocolate and skip chocolate chips |
(they don't melt as well).
Tip #5: Take your time...with cheesecakes. This is THE big secret of a yummy cheesecake. Bake them at low temperatures for a long time. Then turn the oven off and let them sit in there for another couple of hours so that they cool slowly. Adding a water bath keeps the oven humid to prevent cracking and drying. According to Kara a moist cheesecake is all about low and slow in the oven.
Tip #6: Use toppings to cover the imperfections. Let's be honest, there's nothing imperfect about Kara's baking, but she insisted that the toppings on cheesecakes aren't just there for looks or indulgence. They're there to cover the cracks. When Kara started whipping up the toppings for these cheesecakes (chocolate ganache and a white chocolate cream cheese topping) I fell a little bit more in awe of her.
|Topless and still beautiful. Me? Not so much.|
|A little chocolate ganache (AKA melted chocolate and heavy cream) on top.|
|This guy got a bit of the white chocolate whipped topping. Other topping options are whipped cream, fresh fruit, or fruit pie fillings.|
Tip #7: Share. Kara even has tricks for sharing. To create a cardboard base for the mini-cheesecakes we wrapped party coasters (from a party store) with tin foil (genius!). The larger cheesecake got its own box. Then...wait for it...they all went home with me so I could share with friends. I was like the most popular girl in town when I was handing out those cheesecakes.
|Kara showed me how to add a little topping on the bottom of the base to stabilize the cheesecakes while we added toppings.|
Oh, and of course, below is the recipe. I totally think you should try to make some and then stop by my house with a delivery.
And if you have any trouble, just call Kara. Her number is (585) ... just kidding. But, trust me, she would help you. She's that nice and amazing and talented!
Bake you later,
P.S. Kara is growing her baking business. So, if you need some cupcakes or cookies or cheesecakes or other cakes, pass us a note and we'll get you in touch with her. Also, make sure to like our Facebook page if you'd like to get Kara's peppermint bark recipe too!
Mrs. Kelly Comment: I was a recipient of one of those babies, and it was as awesome as it looks. I think the Golden Girls were on to something...everything IS better with cheesecake. Thanks Kara and Mrs. W.
Mrs. Gosling comment: Two words. Da Bomb. One day, I came home and this little box of heavenly sweetness was sitting on my door step. No, not RG ... Kara's cheesecakes. They were amazing and I ate them both. Thanks for sharing Kara!
Kara's Amazing Cheesecake
Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Recipe
- 2 Cups chocolate cookie crumbs (Oreos or Famous Wafers)
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
- Mix together and press into the bottom or a 9” spring form pan or eight 4” spring form pans.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, then let cool.
- 3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ Tbsp milk
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 ½ Tbsp flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4oz white chocolate, melted & cooled
- 1 ½ cups Peppermint Bark
- Preheat oven to 280 degrees
- In a small bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, then eggs, then sour cream & peppermint extract, mixing after each addition. Add flour & salt, blend until smooth again. Add the (cooled) melted white chocolate, beat until incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in the Peppermint Bark. Place prepared spring form pans on a jelly roll pan, then pour batter into pan(s).
- Bake at 280 degrees for 1 ½ hours for the small 4” pans
- Bake at 280 degrees for 2 hours if using a 9” pan
- Turn off the oven (with the door shut) and leave the cheese cake inside for at least a good hour or two. Then remove from oven and let cool further until roughly room temp. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (Topping)
- 1/2C cool whip, thawed
- 4oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 oz white chocolate, melted
- 1 ½ tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla
- In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients together until smooth and slightly thickened. Spread on top of cheesecake.
- 8oz dark chocolate, between 54-72% cocoa
- ½ cup heavy cream
- In a small bowl, break up chocolate as much as you can.
- In a glass measuring cup, microwave the heavy cream until just starting to boil – around 60 seconds. Once hot, pour it over the chocolate and let sit for a minute or two.
- Stir until smooth. You MAY need to microwave the heavy cream & chocolate mix additionally to soften. Try intervals of 30 seconds at power lever 5. Let it cool slightly.
- Once the ganache is no longer hot, it can be pour over top (will run down the sides) or you can wait until is room temperature and thick and then spread it on top of the cheesecake.
Crushed candy canes and whipped cream can be added once you are ready to serve.
Storing your cheesecake:
Cheesecake MUST be refrigerated because of all the dairy products in it. Generally, homemade cheesecake is good for 5-6 days when refrigerated or 6-8 months if frozen. It can sit out at room temperature for ~2-3 hours as long as it’s not outside on a hot day or in direct sunlight.
Eat them yourself or pass them on to friends! Either way, you win!