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This easy Peppermint Cheesecake is a festive showstopper with a chocolate Oreo crust, swirls of peppermint, and topped with peppermint bark & whipped cream! It’s a delightful dessert that is the perfect finish to your Christmas dinner!
When it comes to holiday flavors, is there anything more festive than pepprmint? Some of our other candy cane-inspired desserts are Peppermint Ice Cream, Peppermint Macarons, and Peppermint Bark Caramel Corn!
Easy Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
I look forward to making this dreamy peppermint cheesecake every year! As soon as I see bags of Hershey’s candy cane kisses showing up at the store, I always grab a couple of them. One is always designated for chocolate peppermint blossoms, but the other goes to this delicious cheesecake!
Paul asked me to make one of these cheesecakes for a work bake-off a few years ago. It’s an event that his law firm does every so often as a fundraiser for a charity that provides assistance to the homeless, and I always like to make something for him to contribute.
Maybe it was just the Christmas spirit, but he came home from work and said this cheesecake was one of the most hotly contested desserts of the day.
I can’t remember if I got the original recipe off the back of a bag of the candy cane kisses years ago or someplace else, but it’s always a favorite and so easy to make! The ingredient list is short and there are no complicated steps like a fussy water bath.
I’m guessing this cheesecake would bake a bit more evenly using a water bath – mine always sinks just a bit in the center by the time it cools completely – but since you sprinkle plenty of chopped peppermint kisses over the top and decorate the edges with whipped cream and peppermint bark, nobody will ever notice any imperfections. Especially once they slice into it and are mesmerized by the pink and white swirls of cheesecake!
The creamy texture of the cheesecake and the sweet white chocolate & peppermint flavor is heavenly, particularly with the chocolate Oreo cookie crust. And it’s a great one to make a day or two in advance. I just recommend waiting to decorate with the whipped cream and peppermint bark until just before serving. You could even bake it well in advance and freeze it!
Peppermint Cheesecake Ingredients
- Oreos: My favorite cheesecake crust is just finely crushed Oreo crumbs and melted butter! The chocolate peppermint combo is impossible to resist!
- Butter: For helping the Oreo crumbs hold together and imparting a great, buttery taste to the crust.
- Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses: This seasonal flavor is easy to find during the Christmas season at almost any grocery store! One bag is plenty to use part of them in the filling itself and the others get chopped up and sprinkled on top of the cheesecake both for flavor and decoration.
- Milk: A little whole milk helps melt the peppermint kisses before adding it to the cheesecake batter.
- Cream cheese: Make sure to pull your cream cheese out of the fridge about an hour before making your cheesecake so it can come to room temperature. I recommend using full-fat cream cheese in this cheesecake recipe. I’ve successfully used reduced fat neufchatel before, but I don’t recommend fat-free cream cheese when making cheesecake.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the cheesecake base and there is a little additional powdered sugar used to sweeten the whipped cream.
- Eggs: These are important for binding and texture in the cheesecake. The mix in best when they are at room temperature.
- Red food coloring : If you really want to amp up the pink color of the peppermint swirl in this cheesecake, I recommend using a few drops of red food coloring . The peppermint kisses will turn it a pretty pink on their own, but it’s more muted than what you see in these photos.
- Vanilla extract: For flavoring the whipped cream.
- Heavy cream: There is nothing like real, freshly whipped cream to top off a dessert like a cheesecake!
- Peppermint bark squares: I decorated this cheesecake with squares of Ghiradelli peppermint bark, although you could make it homemade and break of cut it into pieces yourself, or use some of the unwrapped peppermint kisses to decorate the top of the cheesecake.
How to Make Peppermint Cheesecake
- Make the crust: Combine finely crushed Oreo crumbs and melted butter together, mixing to moisten the crumbs. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round springform pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes to set the crust, then remove from oven to cool a bit.
- Make the filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs, mixing on a medium-low speed until combined. Be careful not to overbeat the filling or you are more likely to end up with cracks in your cheesecake. Set aside 1 cup of batter, then spread remaining batter in the prepared crust.
- Melt half of the peppermint kisses: Place 30 of the unwrapped kisses in a microwave-safe bowl along with a little milk and heat at MEDIUM (50%) power for 60-90 seconds, stirring every 20 seconds until melted.
- Swirl the batter: Add the melted kisses into the reserved cheesecake batter along with 1 to 2 drops of red food coloring (if using) for a more intensely pink color and mix together. Drop spoonfuls of the pink peppermint filling onto the cheesecake, then gently swirl with a knife for a marbled effect.
- Bake: Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, just until center is almost set but still slightly jiggly. You can use a water bath if you like, but I never bother. Turn oven off and crack the oven door to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly for the first 20-30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan using a sharp knife before letting it cool completely at room temperature, about 2-3 hours. Transfer to the fridge and chill well.
- Decorate: Chop most of the remaining candy cane kisses (you might want to reserve some whole for decorating the top if not using peppermint bark squares). Sprinkle the chopped kisses over the cooled cheesecake. Beat the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla, then pipe it in decorative swirls on top of the cheesecake and garnish with peppermint bark before serving.
Cheesecakes freeze really well, so they are great for making ahead of the holiday season and having in reserve. All you need to do is pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight, then top with freshly whipped cream before serving!
Let the baked cheesecake cool completely and chill in the fridge for an hour or two to set up all the way. You can even sprinkle the top with the topped candy cane kisses before wrapping the cheesecake really well with a couple layers of plastic wrap to protect it from the freezer.
More Christmas Dessert Ideas That Aren’t Cookies
- Cranberry Coconut Cake (this one is so festive and beautiful!)
- Sticky Toffee Pudding (a classic that happens to be my mom’s favorite thing I’ve made)
- Black Forest Cheesecake
- German Chocolate Cake
- Indiana Sugar Cream Pie (not quite sugar plums, but this sweet and lightly spiced custard pie would be perfect during the holidays)
- Fresh Cranberry Shortbread Bars
- 2 cups crushed chocolate cookie crumbs about 20-25 Oreos
- 3 Tablespoons salted butter melted
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1 bag Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses divided
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- 1-2 drops red food coloring optional
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap peppermint kisses and set aside.
- In a large food processor or blender, crush the Oreo cookies into fine crumbs Add the melted butter to the crushed Oreos and press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round springform pan using a measuring cup with a flat bottom. Bake for 5-7 minutes, then remove from oven to cool while preparing the filling.
- Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs, mixing on a medium-low speed until combined. Set aside 1 cup of batter, then spread remaining batter in the prepared crust.
- Place 30 of the peppermint kisses in a medium microwave-safe bowl along with the milk and heat at MEDIUM (50%) power for 60-90 seconds, stirring every 20 seconds until melted.
- Stir the melted kisses into the reserved cheesecake batter along with 1 to 2 drops of red food coloring (if using) for a more intensely pink color. Drop spoonfuls of the pink peppermint filling onto the cheesecake. Gently swirl with a knife for a marbled effect.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, just until center is almost set but still slightly jiggly. Turn oven off and crack the oven door to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly for the first 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan using a sharp knife. Cool completely at room temperature, then chill before removing the sides of the springform pan.
- Chop most of the remaining candy cane kisses (you might want to reserve some whole for decorating the top if not using peppermint bark squares). Sprinkle the chopped kisses over the cooled cheesecake.
- Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip and use to pipe swirls around the top of the cheesecake. Stick squares of peppermint bark between the whipped cream swirls before serving.
- Overbeating your cream cheese and overbaking the cheesecake can lead to cracks in your cheesecake. But this cheesecake is very forgiving because you can fill in any cracks with chopped peppermint kisses and no one will be the wiser.
- You could make the crust with chocolate graham crackers or chocolate Teddy grahams instead of Oreos.