There are few desserts I enjoy as much as I enjoy cheesecake. Unfortunately, they are not always the easiest of desserts to make. This Christmas, I decided to try my hand at making peppermint cheesecake without chocolate. While I do love chocolate, sometimes I think it dominates all other flavors, so I've come up with this New York style pepperminty goodness for all of our dining pleasures!
As with bagels, in order to get a cheesecake right, you'll need to plan ahead. I'm not saying you need to start three days ahead of time or anything, but for the best results, you should plan to be pulling this cheesecake out of the oven at least 24 hours before you want to serve it, as this intensifies the flavor. The other timing trick is to remove the cream cheese from the fridge several hours before you start making your cheesecake. This assures that it will be very soft and will properly mix with the other ingredients (as opposed to having clumps of cream cheese that won't incorporate with the rest of your batter).
Preheat oven 500º (this is not a typo!)
Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan.
To make crust, combine in a medium bowl:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Thoroughly mix so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Pour mixture into the springform pan. Spread crumbs evenly across the bottom, using your fingers to firmly pack. Place in refrigerator.
In an electric mixing bowl, add:
2 eight ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 eight ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened
Using the paddle attachment, mix at moderate speed for thirty seconds.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add:
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
Mix 1 1/2 minutes so that the ingredients are smooth and creamy. You may be tempted to mix it longer, but resist the urge and set a timer! Over beating the batter will result in it rising too much and then falling when it cools.
One at a time add:
4 large egg yolks
Beat until yolk is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat.
Using a low speed, mix in:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies
until just incorporated.
Pour batter into the spring-form pan over top of the graham cracker crumb crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 200º and bake for one hour.
Because a cheesecake is really a custard and not a cake at all, the center will still be jiggly after an hour. This is exactly what you want, so don't think you've done anything wrong. By the time you serve it up, the center will set.
Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door ajar. Let the cheesecake sit for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before refrigerating.
Practice patience as you wait 24 hours before serving.