I knew I wanted a chocolate cheesecake base, but all the peppermint cheesecake recipes I found used white chocolate. I decided to take a chocolate cheesecake and adapt it to have the peppermint flavor I wanted. Since I’ve never made a chocolate cheesecake, I asked my blogging friends for a recipe recommendation. Annie texted me and told me that she had the perfect recipe for me to try. I made a few changes to it in order to achieve the chocolate peppermint cheesecake I had in mind. Obviously, the first change was to add a bit of peppermint extract. Since I wanted this to be a peppermint mocha cheesecake, I increased the amount of espresso powder so that the flavor would really come through. Lastly, I used peppermint filled Oreos to make the crust and omitted the sugar since I knew the cream filling was plenty sweet enough. Next time I make this, I’ll press the crumbs all the way up the sides of the springform instead of just halfway because I couldn’t get the crumbs at an even height, which made the outside of the cheesecake look pretty sloppy. It still tasted phenomenal, and I’m sure I was the only one that noticed the less than perfect crust. I considered making a bark-style topping for the cheesecake but ultimately decided against it for fear it would be a pain to cut through. Pieces of double layer peppermint bark pressed into the cheesecake after chilling ended up being a fantastic alternative. Cheesecakes are intimidating to a lot of people, but I promise you they are not that hard. This one doesn’t even require a water bath (and still came out crack free). If you’re looking for a show-stopping dessert for your Christmas celebration, this is it.
To make the crust, heat oven to 400º. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper. Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl and stir with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Transfer the crumbs to the prepared pan. Gently press the crumbs up the sides of the pan, then use a glass or other flat-bottomed object to press the crumbs into an even later on the bottom. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decrease oven temperature to 300º.
To make the filling, combine the sour cream, vanilla, peppermint and espresso powder in a small bowl. Whisk to blend and set aside. Melt the chocolate, either over a double boiler or in the microwave, and set aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, cocoa powder and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating 2-3 minutes more, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and beat on medium-low speed. Add the sour cream mixture and mix until evenly blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the center jiggles just slightly. Cool on a wire rack for 1-2 hours, then cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
To serve the cheesecake, carefully unmold the sides of the springform. Top with whipped cream and peppermint bark, if desired. Run a long, sharp knife under hot water to warm it, then dry with a towel. Cut into thin slices (this is a rich cheesecake, after all) and clean the knife, reheating as necessary, in between each slice. Serve chilled.