This creamy peppermint cheesecake has an Oreo cookie crust, chocolate ganache topping and crushed candy canes on top. The texture is silky smooth without being too dense. It looks absolutely stunning and will impress all of your holiday guests.
**This post was updated November 18, 2023 with new photos, recipe tips and a slightly updated recipe**
If you’re looking for a delicious, original dessert for Christmas – then this peppermint cheesecake is the way to go. It’s has a candy cane flavor that’s peppermint-y, creamy and tastes delicious with the chocolate ganache on top. The texture is velvety smooth without being too heavy. The beautiful light pink colour contrasted with the chocolate crust and topping makes this cheesecake look stunning too.
Making the Perfect Peppermint Cheesecake
The cheesecake starts with a crunchy Oreo cookie crust. I always use whole Oreo cookies, and pulse them in a food processor to create a fine crumb as opposed to using Oreo baking crumbs. I find the cookies with the filling hold together better. Then they’re mixed with melted butter and pressed into the bottom of the pan creating a slight lip around the edges.
*I recommend baking the crust for 10 minutes on its own because it makes the crust crunchier. You could skip this step and just place the crust in the freezer as you make the filling – but I really find that the crust turns out better this way.
Then it’s time to get on with the filling. The filling is made with cream cheese, sugar, peppermint extract, sour cream, cornstarch and eggs. The sour cream is key for making the cheesecake velvety smooth without being too heavy.
- Start by beating together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. This is your opportunity to remove any clumps from the cream cheese. Be sure to turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Then mix in the sour cream, cornstarch, peppermint extract and optional red food coloring. Be sure to sift in the cornstarch so that you don’t get lumps. The cornstarch helps the cheesecake set properly and minimizes the risk of cheesecake cracks.
- Whisk together the eggs and additional egg yolks in a small bowl.
- Then very carefully beat in the eggs into the cream cheese mixture. I always do this about ½ at time. Whisking the eggs together first helps to ensure that you don’t overmix the batter. When combining the eggs into the batter it’s so important not to overmix. Overmixing can lead to cheesecake cracks. When you’re done, you should no longer see any pieces of egg in the batter and the cheesecake batter will be much thinner.
Pro Tip: You’ll use 1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract in total, depending on how strong of a peppermint flavor you’d like. Add 1 teaspoon first, then taste test the cheesecake batter before adding in the eggs. If you feel the flavor isn’t strong enough – then mix in more peppermint extract.
The cheesecake is baked using the water bath method – meaning the springform pan is wrapped tightly and then placed in a large roasting pan. Then about ½ – 1 inch of water is poured into the roasting pan. This process keeps the cheesecake extra creamy because it locks moisture in, and it reduces the chance of your cheesecake cracking.
Pro Tip: I recommend wrapping the pan first in a disposable plastic oven bag (the type you’d use for a turkey). You may need to trim the bag slightly, then pull tight with one of the tags included with your oven bags. Then wrap multiple times with aluminum foil so that the bottom and sides are covered and all the seems are covered. If the seal of your pan is tight, you can skip the bag and just wrap with foil. Be sure to wrap at least 4 times.
Once the cheesecake is baked and cooled it’s topped with a glossy, creamy chocolate ganache topping. You’ll add finely chopped chocolate to a heatproof bowl and then pour hot cream on top. Let it sit for a few minutes, then whisk together until smooth.
The ganache gets poured overtop of the cooled cheesecake (you can add it at any point in time when the cheesecake is chilling in the fridge). Not only does the chocolate taste delicious with the peppermint flavor, but it will also cover up any small cracks or imperfections on top of your cheesecake.
Cheesecake Baking Tips & Tricks
- Ensure that your cream cheese, eggs and sour cream are room temperature before getting started. This is key for creating a smooth and creamy cheesecake and minimizing cheesecake cracks.
- Don’t forget to wrap the springform pan tightly before baking in the water bath. This is so important so that water doesn’t leak into the pan.
- Give yourself enough time! The cheesecake will need to cool slowly then chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving.
- Only add the crushed candy canes right before serving. They can end up melting and collecting condensation if they sit in the fridge.
Variations & Adaptations
- Instead of a chocolate ganache topping, use a white chocolate ganache topping
- Tint the cheesecake green instead of pink, and make it for St. Patrick’s Day
- If you’d like to make a no-bake peppermint cheesecake:
- Make the Oreo crust as instructed in the recipe below
- Use this recipe for the no-bake cheesecake filling, but omit the lemon juice and add 1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract and a few drops of red food coloring when you add in the vanilla extract
- Do not add the chocolate ganache on top – it will melt the no-bake filling. Simply add the crushed candy canes on top of the cheesecake
- For a chocolate peppermint cheesecake – check out this recipe
This candy cane cheesecake is creamy, peppermint-y, and impossible to resist with its Oreo cookie crust and chocolate ganache topping. It’s such a beautiful dessert for Christmas and everyone fill fall in love with it’s velvety smooth texture and creamy peppermint flavor.
Or for more candy cane recipes, make sure to try these favorites:
- 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan
- large roasting pan (big enough for the springform pan to fit inside)
- 30 Oreo cookies wafers and filling
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter melted
- 24 oz cream cheese (680 grams) full-fat, brick-style
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar (250 grams)
- 1 cup sour cream (240 ml)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch AKA cornflour in the UK and Australia, or 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract to taste
- 2-4 drops red food coloring optional
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks discard the whites
- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (170 grams) finely chopped
- ⅔ cup heavy cream (120 ml) 33-35% MF
- 2 crushed candy canes
- whipping cream for decorating
For the Waterbath
- hot water
- Preheat the oven to 325F (170C) degrees.
- Wrap the outside a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. I recommend wrapping with an oven bag first. Then wrap the outside at least 4 times with aluminum foil so that the bottom and sides are covered, and all the seams are covered at least once.
- Add the Oreo cookies (wafers and filling) to a food processor and process until fine crumbs. (Or place in a ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pan).
- Mix together the crushed cookies and melted butter. You can either do a few pulses in the food processor or mix together in a bowl with a fork.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan, creating a slight lip around the edges.
- Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven. Keep the oven turned on the pan wrapped.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until soft and creamy. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the sour cream, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and 1-2 drops red food coloring. I recommend sifting in the cornstarch. Beat together until incorporated and smooth. Taste test the batter. Optionally, add in a little more peppermint extract to your taste and a little more food coloring depending on the color you'd like.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the 3 eggs and additional 2 egg yolks.
- Beat the eggs into the cream cheese mixture about ½ at a time with the mixer on a low speed. Stop mixing as soon as you no longer see pieces of egg.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the springform pan on top of the crust.
Baking & Cooling the Cheesecake
- Place the cheesecake in the middle of a large roasting pan.
- Pour water into the roasting pan so there's about ½ - 1 inch of water in it.
- Place the entire contraption in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top looks just set and if you give the cheesecake a nudge it has a slight wobble. It should wobble like jello or pudding, but not like a glass of milk.
- Remove the entire contraption from the oven.
- Cool the cheesecake in the waterbath until it's room temperature. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan (still in the springform pan), cover and place in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours.
- Add the finely chopped chocolate to a heatproof bowl.
- Add the heavy cream to a microwave safe measuring cup, and microwave for 30 second intervals until almost boiling.
- Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and leave for 2 minutes. Then whisk until smooth. If the chocolate isn't quite melted, microwave for 30 seconds on medium power (do not use high power, which is often the default).
- Remove the cheesecake from the fridge. Carefully trace around the edge of the springform pan with a thin knife (not a table knife) and unclamp the outer ring of the cheesecake.
- Blot any moisture off of the top of the cheesecake using a paper towel. Pour the ganache over the cheesecake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Place the cheesecake back in the fridge until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, crush the candy canes (I do this with a rolling pin) and sprinkle over the cheesecake. Slice with a thin, sharp knife. Be sure to slice all the way through the crust.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: The cream cheese, sour cream and eggs should be room temperature before getting started. Take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes prior to making the cheesecake. Take the cream cheese out of the package and cut into cubes and measure out the sour cream. Eggs can be placed in a bowl of warm water to speed up the process.
- Cream Cheese: Be sure to use brick-style, full-fat cream cheese. Do not use low fat, spreadable, whipped or anything that comes in a tub.
- Sour Cream: I used 7% MF sour cream. It can also be substituted for plain Greek yogurt (it must be Greek yogurt for the proper consistency). Do not use vanilla flavored yogurt.
- Peppermint Extract: Peppermint extract can be found in the baking aisle near the vanilla extract.
- Eggs: You will need 5 eggs in total - 3 full eggs and just the egg yolks from the 4th and 5th eggs.
- Chocolate: Feel free to use semi-sweet or dark chocolate around 50%. I prefer to use chopped chocolate as opposed to chocolate chips, but either will work.
- Make Ahead and Storage Instructions
- Because the cheesecake needs to chill for at least 6 hours in the fridge, I typically make the cheesecake the day before I want to serve it. You can add the chocolate ganache at any point in time when the cheesecake is in the fridge. Just be sure to only add the crushed candy canes right before serving.
- Store leftover cheesecake covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.