Decadence in Spades

Over the holidays, my youngster and I plotted together to make a special birthday cake for my husband. None of that fluffy cake and sugar frosting stuff for him. No, we took two of his favorite sweet treat passions - chocolate and mint - and created a cheesecake that showcased both of them.

Now, to be honest, most of the creating part of the process was my fault, but there are few things quite as adorable as a five year old simultaneously helping to run a stand mixer and insisting that my husband stay out of the kitchen, lest the surprise be ruined. I'm not sure how much of a surprise it was in the end, given that the aromas of chocolate and mint permeated everything in our home, but no one was complaining about the results:

The youngster exclaimed that "Daddy will love it because it is beautiful." Now, although I agree that it was a fine looking cheesecake, I'm also pretty sure that its looks were not what endeared it to those enjoying it. This is one intense dessert. It's the sort of thing I make once a year and enjoy without a shred of guilt when I eat it because I know it's not going to be showing up for another year. So, while it's here, I savor it and we all smile. And then I share the beautiful picture and the recipe with you, so you can try your own hand at it. I hope you love it too, and not just because it's beautiful.

Chocolate-Mint Cheesecake

  • 22 chocolate-mint sandwich cookies, finely crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate chips
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 2 T. coffee, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mint candy bits (such as Andes Candies)
  • 8 chocolate-mint sandwich cookies, for decoration
  • 7 peppermint patties, for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the cookie crumbs and butter together; press the mixture onto the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. If needed, place a collar of aluminum foil around the bottom of the pan to keep any leaking to a minimum.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer until well-blended. Add the sour cream and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each just until blended. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust.

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is almost set. Run a knife around rim of pan to loosen the cake. Cool it completely before adding the ganache and decorating.

To make the ganache, combine the chocolate chips, heavy cream, and coffee in a glass measuring cup and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Carefully stir the mixture and return to the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds in the microwave, until the mixture is smooth and pourable. Pour the ganache evenly over the top of the completely cooled cheesecake, spreading with a spatula if needed.

Sprinkle the mint candy bits evenly over the ganache and finish decorating the top of the cake with the sandwich cookies and peppermint patties. If desired, the peppermint patties can be cut in half and sunk into the ganache for decorating purposes. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 2 hours before serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 90 minutes, plus chilling time