A Little Bit of Sweet

As many of you know, my husband and I love spicy food. So when Valentine's Day rolls around this year, I'm likely to make a dinner that sets our tastebuds on fire. And I can't think of a nicer way to help soothe the burn than one of these little chocolate-peppermint cheesecakes:

Now, if you don't want to add a candy cane or nestle a cookie in it after you're done making them, feel free to serve them as is or add whatever kind of decoration you desire. Me? I'm sort of a sucker for the peppermint goodies I tend to be enjoying well after the holiday season in which they took center stage. And did I mention it might be a great way to calm the capsaicin effect after a spicy dinner?

Oh! I nearly forgot to tell you about one of the most wonderful things about this recipe. It requires no baking. I'll pause and let that sink in a bit. Think about it. You can spend about 20 minutes and have individual peppermint cheesecakes on hand and, if you want, focus on other things for your special day. Maybe that's making an elaborate dinner. Maybe that's planning a special outing to the theater or a concert. Maybe that's making a space for good 'ol R&R with your sweetie. Whatever it is you want to plan (or not plan), this dessert gives you the time to do it without leaving dessert looking last-minute.

I hope this season of cold and ice gives way, at least a little, to warmth and love as you think about those near and dear to you. Even if you don't celebrate Valentine's Day, it's never a bad idea to hold them a little closer, smile a little more, and enjoy just a little bit of sweet together.

Mini-Peppermint No-Bake Cheesecakes

  • 12 peppermint-flavored sandwich cookies
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 3-ounce package white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon real peppermint extract
  • 1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, plus extra for garnish, if desired
  • 6 miniature candy canes, crushed
  • Additional candy canes and peppermint-flavored sandwich cookies, if desired

Place the sandwich cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse again until combined.

Spoon the crumbs into individual ramekins. Place in the refrigerator to set while you are preparing the filling.

Prepare the white chocolate pudding with the milk according to package instructions.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until light and creamy. Add the prepared white chocolate pudding and the peppermint extract and beat until completely mixed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that all ingredients are well combined.

Change your stand mixture attachment to the wire whisk. On slow speed, fold in the tub of frozen whipped topping and until well combined. Add the crushed miniature candy canes and stir gently to combine.

Using a large pastry bag with a large tip, or a spoon, top the chocolate mint crumb crust in each cup with the cheesecake mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with additional whipped topping, a candy cane, and a peppermint-flavored sandwich cookie, if desired. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time