At Christmas, indulgence of traditional treats becomes the norm. There’s always lots of homemade goodies to be had: cookies, cakes, candies, pies. Sometimes you need to break a little from tradition when you are helping to put together something for a Christmas dinner.
In preparing for my very first Christmas dinner in Iqaluit, I was told that I could bring something for dessert. I was excited, since I haven’t been able to do much baking in recent months. But what to make! Having just moved into an apartment in the past week, I knew that I had access to all my cookbooks again, so I had lots of options to choose from. I wanted to do something a little different, and so instead of a pie or cookies, I decided that a cheesecake would be a nice ending to a holiday meal. I narrowed it down to a peppermint recipe that would have to be modified based upon what I could find in the stores the day before Christmas Eve.
I present to you…Peppermint Cheesecake ~ The Light and Sweet Edition (modified from the Kraft Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese Cheesecakes book.
The first challenge of this recipe is that some of the items called for would probably not be found in the local grocery stores – particularly so close to Christmas. Things not normally stocked would probably have been snatched up by other local bakers, and baking items were quickly running out. Luckily, I managed to find most of what I needed, and was able to wing it for the rest. The second challenge is that I have never made a no-bake cheesecake before – I’m must more proficient at the baked version. So this was definitely a new experience…but regardless, would hopefully be a tasty outcome.
The crust would be created by combining 1 cup of chocolate wafer crumbs and 3 tablespoons of melted margarine in a bowl, and pressing the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Unfortunately for me, the store did not have chocolate wafer crumbs available. Fortunately for me, I have a rolling pin and loads of plastic baggies.
Creating my own chocolate wafer crumbs
After crushing the chocolate wafers into crumbs, mixing them with the melted margarine, and pressing the mix into the pan, I baked the crust for about 10 minutes at 350° F, and set the pan aside to cool.
Yummy chocolate base
To create the cheesecake itself, I required the following ingredients:
- 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin (about 15 mL or 1 tbsp)
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 45-g milk chocolate bars, finely chopped
Despite the fact that my package of Knox Gelatine suggested using 1/2 cup of water to dissolve in, this recipe only called for half that amount. After allowing the gelatin to soften in the water, I heated it gently over low heat until it dissolved.
This gelatin is NOT dissolved...keep stirring and heating!
While the gelatin was cooling down a smidge, I mixed my cream cheese and sugar. The unfortunate thing was that as a last-minute shopper, I was unable to find blocks of cream cheese, and could only find the spreadable light cream cheese packages. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the spreadable nature of the cheese would not turn my dessert into disaster. Once the room temperature cream cheese and sugar was mixed well, I gradually added the gelatin, milk and peppermint candy (which I previously crushed up using my handy-dandy Magic Bullet – these things are really handy!). This eventually gave the batter a lovely pink hue. The batter was then chilled to allow it to thicken slightly.
Mix that batter up well!
In the meantime, I whipped up the cup of whipping cream, and chopped up the chocolate so it was ready to go into the rest of the batter.
Once the batter had thickened up a bit, it was time to fold in the remaining ingredients. First the whipping cream…
Folding the whipping cream into the batter allows for a nice marbly effect
Then the chocolate…
Once everything is mixed up nicely, it’s time to pour the batter on to the crust. Make sure the batter spreads evenly and tap the pan on the counter if you need to get rid of bumps.
Not too much longer now...
Refrigerate until firm and try not to go to the fridge every hour to drool over the cheesecake – you’ll just end up wasting power from opening the fridge multiple times.
Besides...it's just going to look like this every time you check...
Once the cheesecake has chilled and firmed up (I suspect it took a few hours, though we left it overnight), you can garnish it how you see fit. I mixed up some vanilla whipped cream (mix 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp vanilla) and crushed up some more peppermint candies.
My decorating skills leave a little to be desired, but I filled one of those many plastic baggies that I have with the whipped cream and used it as a piping bag with minor success. The end result was quite tasty though – all in all, no-bake cheesecakes aren’t as difficult as I thought. Just have to remember to keep them in the fridge when they aren’t being cut or eaten!