Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars


Every year I truly look forward to catching up with distant friends and relatives through the annual Christmas Card.  The photo cards are my favorites giving me a peek at those who are close to my heart but far from my home.  The annual letters are always a special bonus, not only giving the visual peek, but also a few stories and highlights from the year.  Saving the letters for a time when I can grab a cup of coffee (and maybe a nice sweet holiday treat!) with a few uninterrupted moments, a few always stand out from the rest...


So far this year I've caught up with friends from Louisville, KY and I am always amazed at how fast the kids grow.  Family from Minnesota wrote about their latest adventures in Holland, and the Traveling Taylors from Palm Desert caught us up on their latest cruise.  I have to say though, that so far my Father-In-Laws card made me laugh the most.  After a summary of their continuing medical maladies he finished up the letter with the following:

In closing, we leave you with the following questions:
Why is last years Christmas card address list in the linen cupboard with the towels?  Our cars are old.  No keyless entry for us.  So how did we get into our locked car in the Home Depot parking lot, but now can't locate the keys to start the car's engine?

I laughed on and off for about an hour at that one, visually picturing my none too patient mother in law exasperatedly questioning him about how he can lose the keys after he got into the car, then my none too mobile father in law trying to get back out of the car after he had spent minutes settling her into the car and then settling himself in as well.  Him searching pockets and around the seats for the lost keys all the while fielding her exasperated, "How could you?" questions.  I'm looking forward to the live version at our Christmas dinner!

Speaking of Christmas dinner, Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars are the perfect holiday treat!  Discovered last year on Joe's blog, Culinary in the Desert, these didn't last long on our New Years Eve table.  Last night they were just as well received at a local Christmas party with comments including divine, hedonistic, decadent, and celestial!  All apt descriptions of these dense, chocolaty, pepperminty, little squares.

The secret is the crust... crushed Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's (oreo-like peppermint flavored cookies) provide the perfect pepperminty base to the rich chocolate cheesecake filling and luscious ganache-like topping.  A sprinkle of crushed candy canes brings a holiday flair and another welcome dose of peppermint.





Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Joe - Culinary in the Desert
and
Foodnetwork.com

Crust:
30 peppermint creme-filled chocolate cookies (I used Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon fine salt


Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
16 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup low fat sour cream
4 large eggs, room temperature

Glaze:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tbs non hydrogenated shortening (I use Earth Balance)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup low fat sour cream, room temperature
crushed candy canes (about 3, large)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees


In a food processor - add cookies and process until they form crumbs. With the processor running, pour in the melted butter and salt - process just until combined.  Press the mixture into a 9" x 13" pan lined with foil - evenly pressing to cover the bottom completely.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water (don't allow the bowl to touch the water) - stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove and set aside to cool a bit.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream and mix well, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix just until incorporated. Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and mix until smooth.

Pour the filling evenly over the crust and smooth the top. Bake until filling puffs slightly around the edges, but is still a bit wobbly in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to begin cooling.


Add chocolate, butter and corn syrup to a small sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat.  Stir the chocolate mixture until melted and smooth, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Spread glaze evenly over the warm cheesecake. When the glaze has almost set sprinkle the crushed candy canes evenly over the top.  Let cool completely and then refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Note:  I'm always looking for ways to cut out a few calories when I can and found that using lower fat cream cheeses and sour cream does not alter the quality of the dessert for me.  With these lower fat ingredients we still produced rich, decadent and delicious desserts! 

39 comments:

  1. Kim, these bars are beautiful! And I bet they are yummy as well!

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  2. You captured their perfect creaminess in your photos. These look so decadent.

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  3. Oh my...these look so amazing! So creamy and decadent, and the beautiful peppermint atop! Wonderful recipe, thanks for sharing :)!

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  4. These look so fudgy and delicious! I think I have everything in my pantry to make myself some!

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  5. What a perfect dessert! Looks wonderful.

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  6. These look amazing!!! I can't wait to try these! Yummy!!

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  7. These look incredibly delicious. And what beautiful photographs, as well!

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  8. I love everything about this recipe ... especially that you used Trader Joe's Peppermint Joe-Joes! Those cookies are sooooooooooo addicting! :)

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  9. That excerpt from your in-laws' letter made me smile. I can totally see that happening to my own parents.

    Those bars are so decadent! I would literally be licking the plate clean.

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  10. The bars look fabulous, Liv and Kim! I love that you're shoppers of TJ's, too! Although, I never do get any of their cookie boxes so, your recipes are great excuses to :-) Also, your in-laws CRACK ME UP, Kim. The picture was quite vivid in my head and it made me smile. THANK YOU :-)

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  11. Kim, these bars look wonderful. I can see my nephews and nieces (okay, the adults, too) devouring these at Christmas. Yum!

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  12. My son loves chocolate, cheesecake, and peppermint. He would simply love this. Nice pictures!

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  13. I'm pretty sure I'm looking at heaven right there. Fantastic cheesecake!

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  14. I always look forward to Christmas cards too! These are seriously a home-run, nice work Kim!

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  15. Oh my word I seriously can't stop drooling over how delicious these look! I LOVE cheesecake but chocolate cheesecake, I love even more!! What a genius idea to use Candy Candy Joe Joes for the crust. Not to mention, they're gorgeous (so is everything you make!) :)

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  16. I am not a dessert maker but these look to yummy to pass up and will add them to my dessert plans for December 27! Thank you and on behalf of the family i cook for THANK YOU! They will LOVE this

    Chef Jen

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  17. These make me wish you lived in Texas...or I in California...so I could taste one of these! Might just have to make a batch next week!!

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  18. That made me giggle too, how does someone lose keys after already being in the car? that doesn't make sense!

    These cheesecake bars look amazing! I love that low fat cream cheese and sour cream are used. I bet this is so decadent and delicious.... but not quite so guilty.

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  19. Mmm everything about this dessert sounds delicious! I just bought some of those Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's and I'm wishing I bought another package to make these...using them as the crust was such a great idea!

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  20. These are gorgeous. This is staying in my inbox until I make them. I must say - you get far more entertaining Christmas letters than I do! I'm laughing at them and I don't even know them!

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  21. Love, love, and love, these gorgeous cheesecake bars, and your funny story-certainly made me laugh. Such a true story in our every day life.
    Thanks for sharing, Kim!

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  22. Mmm...I´ve just find your blog and it´s really candy.
    I love chocolate, I love sweets.
    Congratulations

    Kisses from Europe

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  23. Kim! These look sooooo goood and creamy! Yum! Congrats on you Top 9!

    Best,
    Veronica

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  24. These look so decadent. I love chocolate and peppermint together, especially at Christmas!

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  25. These look so tempting! I bet they melt in your mouth the moment you taste them. I love peppermint at Christmas! Thanks for the recipe.

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  26. What a beautiful, festive dessert! They look so decadent and rich...and delicious I'm sure! Thanks for sharing ;) Merry Christmas!

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  27. If we had a trader joes nearby I would be all over this recipe! I have some friends at the office that would go crazy for this dessert! Hope you have a lovely holiday :)

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  28. Saw these featured on foodbuzz...they look absolutely delicious (and quite festive!). Making me hungry just looking at the pictures. ^_^

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  29. Wow, these are seriously amazing. I am so hungry now! They are absolutely mouthwatering.

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  30. Congrats on making top9!! These look amazing!

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  31. Oh, look! Another Top 9! It's getting to be old hat!

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  32. wow, three of my fav. flavors all wrapped into one! Congrats on making foodbuzz top 9!!

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  33. so we actually mad this..and we baked it for more than 30 minutes and it still seems a bit too wobbly? how do you know when it is fully cooked?

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  34. So glad you gave it at try!! I give my pan a jiggle, when the "outside" part is fairly firm, yet the middle, still jiggles, I pull it out and put it on the counter to sit.
    I undercooked a cheesecake this Christmas as well... I guess I would say make sure the middle is not "liquidy", more like firmer jello. Hope that helped!
    And use the time as a guideline, all ovens cook differently, and if yours is a bit cool, it might eventake up to 45 min or so.

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  35. I just found this pic on pinterest, those look wonderful, so creamy and gooey and delish.. Hmmmm

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