|White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake|
There's an old saying in the culinary world that goes something like this: If cooking is an art, then baking is a science. It's one of the reasons I don't prepare many desserts for presentation here. It's also one of the reasons I have so much respect for baking blogs such as Joanna of Chic & Gorgeous Treats, Amy of Fragrant Vanilla Cake and Jennie of The Messy Baker, just to name a few.
In fact, my original plan for the guest post I did for Kim Bee of Cravings of a Lunatic was a apple cheesecake, taking my idea of using breakfast cereal to make a crust from Apple Jacks. My result was tasty, but it wasn't very pretty and I didn't want an ugly dish to present as a first impression to new readers.
This isn't my first time at the rodeo, so to speak. I've prepared a number of cheesecakes in the past, but have never prepared one where I've been completely satisfied. I've either had problems with cracks that appear on top or the center not setting properly. A majority of cheesecake recipes found online are topped somehow, either with a ganache, or some other type of garnish I suspect to hide any flaws in appearance. (It's a dirty secret with cheesecakes.)
Fortunately, there's help. One of the most comprehensive explanations I found on why many home bakers fail at cheesecakes and suggestions on how to avoid these pitfalls is by Diana of Diana's Desserts. I have used the water bath technique to avoid cracks in the surface but I still have issues with a soft center.
Mrs. Stuntman and I hosted some friends for dinner last night where I served this seasonal dessert so I thought I'd share it here.
Successfully complete a baked dessert.
I adapted the recipe from Natalie of Once Upon a Cutting Board I found via feastie.com. Natalie's original source is Kraft Foods Inc. Like Natalie, I opted for an Oreo cookie crust but omitted the added sugar in the crust because the cookie crumbs are already sweet.
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
4 ounces white chocolate, melted
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups frozen whip cream topping, thawed
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy (candy canes), divided
8 cups water, boiling
1. Prepare the baking pan: Grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and line the bottom and the side with parchment paper. Wrap the springform pan in aluminum foil so that it completely covers the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides.
2. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Combine the Oreo cookie crumbs and the melted butter and press into the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Make the cake batter: Beat cream cheese and white sugar with an electric mixer until well blended. Add 1 egg and beat on low speed just until blended. Repeat twice more with each egg. Stir in the white chocolate, 1/4 cup peppermint candy and peppermint extract, being careful not to over stir. Pour the batter into the springform pan on top of the Oreo cookie crust.
4. Bake the cheesecake: Place a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the springform pan in the oven and put the prepared springform pan in the larger roasting pan and pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches 2 inches up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 45-50 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. Remove the springform pan from the roasting pan and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Then refrigerate at least 6 hours to overnight.
5. Garnish the cake: Immediately before serving, top the cheesecake with the whip cream and shower with the remaining peppermint candy.
I didn't have any surface cracks with this cheesecake, however I was a little nervous after the 50 minutes in the oven because the batter was a little wobbly. Ultimately it stiffened up as it cooled.
At the very least, I might bake more often simply for the reason that it was a great opportunity to spend some quality time with my daughter. Also, my guests were very happy with the dessert.
Lastly, if you aren't familiar with Natalie, you can get to know her by giving her a 'Like' on facebook, following her on twitter and/or Pinterest.