Monday, December 12, 2011

Layered Peppermint Cheesecake

Every Christmas I look through all of my cookbooks, food blogs, and cooking magazines to find "the" ultimate Christmas dessert. I know the holidays are always insanely busy and packed full of ugly sweater parties, Christmas concerts, shopping and gift wrapping and it can be difficult to make all of the traditional cookies, cakes, and egg nog to celebrate the season. Although I'm sure you're short on time and energy this time of year, you should really try to find time to make this cake. It is the perfect dessert for your annual Holiday party or Christmas Eve dinner! I saw this cheesecake in the December issue of Southern Living and knew I had to find the time and place to make it. Surprisingly, it really wasn't that difficult. It's one of those desserts that looks extremely impressive, but is a cinch to throw together. I made the cheesecakes one night, the cake the next night, and then assembled everything together the day after that. I love the fact that it uses a box cake mix because you know the cake will rise correctly and it will save you time to mix it together and throw it in the oven. It does take a little more time than your average cake recipe, but it's so worth it!

Let me give you just a few details about this cake that I am in love with: (1) The Cheesecake. I have never thought to make a peppermint cheesecake, but it was divine! So refreshing with just a hint of crunch from the peppermint candies. It was slightly tangy when combined with the cake, which made for a perfect combination to combat the overall sweetness. (2) The Frosting. Ohh.. the frosting. Is it bad to say I literally licked the bowl clean after frosting the cake? It was divine!! Light, airy whipped cream combined with melted white chocolate to make the fluffy mousse frosting. Even after eating 2... or 4.. pieces of cake, I still can't get enough of the frosting. (3) The boxed mix cake layers. Easy, delicious, and perfectly spongy. I love the combination of chocolate and mint so I substituted a devil's food cake mix instead of the white cake mix that the original recipe called for and it turned out amazing! Enough said. If these reasons aren't enough to make you want to make this, then you must hate peppermint.. or cheesecake.. or desserts in general. It's just that good. :) (Recipe and picture adapted from Southern Living)


Peppermint Cheesecake Layers:

  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2/3 cup crushed hard peppermint candies

Sour Cream Cake Layers:

  • 1 (18.25 oz.) package chocolate cake mix

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup water

White Chocolate Mousse Frosting

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 cup white chocolate morsels

  • 2 cups whipping cream

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Garnishes (optional): White chocolate curls, peppermint candies (I put some chocolate shavings on top of mine to tie in the chocolate cake pieces)

1. Prepare peppermint cheesecake layers: Preheat oven to 325. Line bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with aluminum foil, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over the sides; lightly grease foil. Beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes, or until creamy and smooth. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add flour and next 3 ingredients, beating until blended. Fold in candies. Pour batter into prepared pans. Place cake pans in a large pan, add water to pan to depth of 1 inch. Note: I always have a really hard time with water baths and cheesecakes. Since these cheesecakes are going to be covered up with cake layers, you could probably just cook them regularly without a water bath and it would turn out great.

2. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven to wire racks. Cool completely in pans (about 1 hour). Cover cheesecakes (do not remove from pans), and freeze 4 to 6 hours or until frozen solid. Lift frozen cheesecakes from pans, using foil sides as handles. Gently remove from cheesecakes. Wrap in plastic wrap, and return to freezer until ready to assemble cake.

3. Prepare sour cream cake layers. Preheat oven to 350. Beat cake mix and next 4 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds or until moistened. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Note: I only used 2 cake pans so the cake wouldn't be as tall. It turned out great! Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

4. Prepare white chocolate mousse frosting: Cook 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Add morsels; cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Beat whipping cream and 2 tsp. vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gradually fold white chocolate mixture into whipped cream, folding until mixture reaches spreading consistency. Beat cream a few minute longer if needed.

5. To assemble cake: Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of the stand/plate to hold the cake in place. Lightly frost both cheesecake layers with the whipped cream frosting and place one on top of the cake layer. Top with second cake layer and remaining cheesecake layer. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish, if desired.