Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cheesecake Extravaganza

This post is a long time coming, as I've had the pictures sitting around for weeks now. So if you really want to be the hit of the Christmas Party this year, be sure to walk in the door with one of these cheesecakes! If you're a little intimidated at the thought of preparing cheesecake, rest assured that it's really not as difficult as it might seem. Check out my cheesecake tips below, too.
Peppermint Chip Cheesecake
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz.) chocolate-covered mint cookies, crushed (such as Keebler Grasshopper Fudge Mint Cookies)
  • 3 T. butter, melted
  • 3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1-1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3-4 drops green food coloring, optional
  • 1 cup mini (or regular sized) chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch until smooth. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and egg yolk; add to cream cheese mixture. Beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in the cream, extracts and food coloring. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into crust. Place springform pan on a baking sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Cover and refridgerate overnight. Remove sides of pan before serving and transfer to a serving platter, if desired. Refridgerate leftovers.

Praline Cheesecake

  • 1-1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 50)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 16 whole vanilla wafers

Filling:

  • 3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Topping:

  • 25 caramels
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

In a small bowl, combine the wafer crumbs, sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Stand whole wafers around edge of pan, pressing lightly into crumbs; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour into crust. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refridgerate overnight.

Place caramels and milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute; stir until smooth. Remove sides of springform pan. Drizzle caramel mixture over cheesecake; sprinkle with pecans. Refridgerate leftovers.

Cheesecake Tips:

1. I use my Mini-prep food processor to crush the cookies for both of these crusts. It's much quicker and more efficient than crushing by hand. If you don't have a food processor, you can place to cookies in a heavy-duty ziploc bag and use a rolling pin or heavy skillet to crush the cookies.

2. One kitchent gadget that I've discovered is perfect for pressing crumbs into a springform pan--a potato masher! Seriously. Use gentle pressure with the masher. Or you can use your hands to press the crumbs into the pan.

3. To prevent a cheesecake from cracking, do not overbeat the batter. Mix the cream cheese and sugar well to eliminate lumps, but after eggs are added, beat the mixture as little as possible.

4. Cheesecake will continue to bake after it's removed from the oven. Your cheesecake is done when it is firm (though it might jiggle slightly), even though the middle may still look moist.

5. Chilling cheesecake overnight is the real key to that indulgent, cheesecake flavor. The longer you refridgerate it, the richer the flavor will be.

2 comments:

Rebecca said...

Oh. my. goodness. Peppermint and cheesecake in the same title? Fabulous.

Sarah said...

Yeah, my thoughts exactly, Bec! I can't believe I had the recipe for it sitting in my recipe box for several years (yes, years!) before I got around to making it. Mmmm...