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Swirled Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars

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Swirled Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars

The holidays had ended. The family and their food had gone. Well, at least most of it. A big box of candy canes and four or five boxes of cream cheese still lingered around the kitchen. Since the cheese drawer was overflowing, I felt compelled to use it all. And what better combination way than to make cheesecake with peppermint and chocolate?

A full cheesecake seemed too daunting, so I decided upon cheesecake bars. I found a few recipes online  and added a few ingredients to make this recipe:

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars Recipe

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars with Candy Canes and White ChocolateIngredients:

Crust

  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 6 oz. chocolate graham crackers, broken
  • 1 1/4 C. (1 stick) butter, softened and cubed
  • 3 Tbs all-purpose flour

Batter

  • 3 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 C sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbs white chocolate chips, divided
  • 3 Tbs. cream
  • 14 mini candy canes, or 6 regular, crushed

Directions for Chocolate Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine ingredients for crust in food processor. Pulse until moist crumbs form. Spread crumbs and press into 9×9 metal pan using a spatula or hands.
  3. Bake crust for 15-20 min. in oven until firm. Remove and cool on wire rack for 1 hr.

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Recipe

  1. Beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, scraping bowl as needed. Slowly add sugar and then eggs one by one until well blended.
  2. Heat 2 Tbs. white chocolate on low in microwave until melted. Do not overheat. Pour into batter.
  3. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and continue beating for about 1 min.
  4. Combine chocolate chips and cream and melt in microwave on low. Stir every 15-20 sec until smooth and liquidy.
  5. With a small spoon drop spots of chocolate into batter then swirl with knife to make marble pattern. Continue until the chocolate is gone.
  6. Place pan with batter in oven and bake 20 min. Rotate pan and bake another 15 min. Remove pan and place on metal cooling rack.
  7. Crush candy canes and sprinkle over top along with 1 Tbs. white chocolate chips.
  8. Cool on rack for 1 hr. then cool in fridge for 1-1/2 hrs.

These smelled good and we hated waiting for them to cool. But we waited as long as we could, which was still only half the time needed. Oh well. It was worth the impatience. The tart peppermint blended with the smooth cream cheese and the chocolate crust supported it all. The crushed candy cane on top gave an extra texture contrast too.

Remember peppermint isn’t just for Christmas. It warms up winter in tea and chocolate. Plus, the red, white and pink colors also work well for Valentine’s Day treats.

So go find those forgotten candy canes and make something special with them!

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Inspired by Cookincanuck and Taste of Home

‘Tis a Gift to Eat Simple

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This holiday season we will hear again the old Christmas carols and festive songs full of food. This list of Christmas treats may seem rather dull to modern appetites: wassail, egg nog, sugarplums, plum pudding, roasted chestnuts,  mincemeat and, of course, fruitcake. Why would our ancestors have thought these items so special that they heralded such delicacies in songs? Where are the double dipped chocolate peanut butter cups? Or the boxes of colored sugar-coated marshmallow trees?

Food used to be simpler. All tiny Tim needed to get excited 100 years ago was the mention of goose. And sugar plums amazed children in the night so much that they couldn’t sleep. Fruit, nuts, juice and wine were good enough for a century of American and English Christmas revelers. Even until 50 years ago fruit was exciting. My mom remembers opening her stocking Christmas morning and finding an orange.  Then my mother explained the rarity of an expensive orange, especially in the little town in the cold upper peninsula of Michigan. Still, to my sister and me it seemed weird to get excited about an orange.

The power of simple pleasures, and American excess, became apparent to me a few years ago when I went to Peru. One day I got a craving for chocolate cake the moist kind with gooey chocolate butter cream frosting. So I went to the outdoor market and looked for a piece. I wondered through the tents and looked through each stall. When I would see a glass case my hopes would rise I would get excited; but each time no cake lay inside. So I gave up on my dream.

A week or so later it was the birthday of one of the local guys with whom I was working. So a neighbor next door made a cake. When she took off the lid everyone started to let out exclamations of excitement. I looked at the plate and saw…a carrot cake. It did look pretty, but seemed more like a square carrot muffin than a cake. Where was the layer of thick cream cheese frosting?

It was then that I realized how much Americans were spoiled and we didn’t even know it. Sweets surround us in the store and through media. Ads tempt us with “decadently delicious” goods. I had always assumed decadent meant wholly good and rich, until one day as I was helping English students with word origins I realized “decadent” came from the same root as the word decay, as in the Roman empire decayed because of its overindulgence. I sure missed that meaning.

I plan to enjoy the holiday foods this year. Desserts like pumpkin pie offer simple and healthy satisfaction. Pecans are healthy too, until they become cloyingly sweet in a decadently delicious chocolate bourbon pecan pie. However, cognizant of American decay, I will try to enjoy just one piece and will not search out a horde of other complicated sweets throughout the day.

After all, as my wife says, and other centuries and cultures show, sweet and simple can be satisfying.

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