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Greg Bennett's Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Cheesecake

Chocolate Chunk Candy Cane Cheesecake
Posted at 7:39 PM, Dec 21, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)-- This recipe was a remake from a traditional cheese cake my grandmother would make during the holidays. “Food is Life” is what my mother taught me and she learned that from her mother.

Desert was always so much fun to cook for us kids growing up. Back then, my grandmother made a traditional plain cheese cake and the children were to decorate it with peppermint candies. Five years ago though my mother decided to kick the recipe up a notch by infusing the peppermint flavor into the cheese cake it self. My grandmother was not too happy about a change from one of her grandmother’s recipes but she did allow my mother and I to make one small cheese cake with a slightly new holiday twist to it.After all was said and done, the taste test was the most stressful of all. The family went silent and all eyes were on my grandmother as she tasted my Ma’s cheese cake. My grandma must have gone through every facial expression imaginable but once she finished her first bite she exclaimed! “Abastanza bene!!” meaning “Not Bad!!” in Italian! However she did mention that it needed a little something on top. Before the rest of the family had time to grab forks, my grandmother whipped up a chocolate ganache to pour over top and there you have it and it’s been a holiday favorite ever since!

You’ll need:

Crust

-1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 32 cookies)

-1/4 cup butter, melted

-2 tablespoons sugar

Cheesecake filling

-4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

-1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

-1/3 cup whipping cream

-1/4 cup sugar

-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-3 large eggs

-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks

Chocolate Ganache topping

-1/2 cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies (about 18 candies)

-3/4 cup whipping cream

-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

Garnishes:

65 soft peppermint sticks (5 small bags), broken, and peppermint bark

Directions:

Combine first 3 ingredients; stir well. Press mixture firmly on bottom of a lightly greased 9" spring form pan. Bake at 325° for 14 minutes; let cool.

Beat cream cheese at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, beating just until blended. Add 1/3 cup whipping cream and next 3 ingredients, beating just until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in chocolate chunks and crushed candies.

Pour batter into baked crust. Bake at 325° for 52 to 55 minutes or until edges are set and center is almost set. Turn off oven. Immediately run a knife around edge of pan, releasing sides. With oven door slightly open, let cheesecake stand in oven 1 hour. Remove from oven; cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours. Remove sides and bottom of pan; place cheesecake on a serving plate.

Pour 3/4 cup whipping cream into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until hot. Add 1 1/2 cups semisweet morsels; stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour ganache over chilled cheesecake, allowing ganache to spill over edges of cheesecake; smooth ganache with an offset spatula. Let stand 10 minutes before garnishing. Store in refrigerator.