My festive Peppermint Bark Cheesecake features a crisp Oreo crust, white chocolate peppermint filling, and chocolate ganache topping. This recipe can be made WITHOUT a water bath and includes lots of tips for success!
The Perfect Christmas Dessert
Inspired by peppermint bark, one of my favorite Christmas candies, this peppermint bark cheesecake is as festive as it is beautiful. My recipe pairs smooth, creamy white chocolate cheesecake with crushed candy canes and a crumbly Oreo crust. It’s draped in a rich chocolate ganache cloak and topped with whipped cream and more candy canes for extra flair.
This is the sort of show-stopper dessert you bring to elevate any Christmas dessert table. It has just the right amount of peppermint flavor (which can be a challenge!) that complements the chocolate(s) so nicely. Plus, my version is markedly less fussy than you might think, especially considering it’s made WITHOUT a water bath (because that’s the only way we do cheesecake around here).
Nervous about making cheesecake? I’m including lots of tips and a troubleshooting section to address common issues before they arise.
What You Need
Nothing too fancy to see here, but these ingredients yield an impressively flavorful peppermint bark cheesecake. Let’s go over a few of the key ingredients.
- Oreo cookies. As in my Oreo cheesecake, we’ll be removing the filling from the cookies before pulverizing them. I don’t do this when making my Oreo crust for pies, but I found that the cream filling tends to leak out of springform pans. We’re going to avoid that oily, oven-burnt-on mess by taking a few minutes to rid ourselves of the cream (you won’t miss it, I promise).
- Cream cheese. As with all of my cheesecake recipes, use a full-fat, brick-style cream cheese and make sure it’s completely softened before starting.
- Sour cream. Sour cream is a beloved, critical ingredient for a rich cheesecake with perfectly balanced flavor. I thought it might bully the peppermint flavor too much and with my first few attempts I left it out, which in turn left me with a flat-tasting cheesecake. Sour cream it is (though full-fat, plain Greek yogurt may be substituted).
- Eggs. For best results, use room temperature eggs and lightly beat them with a fork before adding them to your batter.
- Peppermint extract. Not “mint” extract, which is mixed with spearmint (the worst of the mints, IMO) and can make your peppermint bark cheesecake lean towards an unfortunate toothpaste-y flavor.
- White chocolate bars. White chocolate is notorious for being too sweet (or does that reputation only exist in my family?). I worried a bit that the cheesecake would also end up overly saccharin. However, it works here and yields a beautifully balanced cheesecake. The tangy flavors of the cream cheese and sour cream work nicely with the sweet chocolate. Use a high quality white chocolate (baking bars are best, not chips) and make sure to chop it finely before melting. We’ll be melting the chocolate in the microwave; if you are concerned about your chocolate seizing (/becoming grainy), follow the tips in my post on how to melt chocolate chips in the microwave.
SAM’S TIP: I carefully designed this peppermint bark cheesecake recipe so it’s not overwhelmingly minty. Mint flavors have a tendency to easily dominate, so I’ve kept it as a subtle accent to the other flavors. If you want a stronger peppermint flavor, by all means increase the extract by ¼-½ teaspoon, but I think it’s best as written (as did my taste-testers).
This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
If you’ve been around here a while, you probably know these tips by heart. I may be guilty of harping on them 😬.
But that’s only because they truly do make a difference in the end result; following these tips can be a game changer for anyone who’s struggled with cracks or funny texture. While these notes are important for this peppermint bark cheesecake recipe, they really apply to just about any cheesecake:
- Make a tall crust: I’ve found that pressing the crust all the way up the side of the springform pan is key to avoiding a cracked cheesecake. Doing this allows the crust to contract with the cheesecake as it cools.
- Use the right cream cheese: Do not use the spreadable cream cheese that comes in a tub! This recipe will only work with brick-style, full-fat cream cheese. To help it incorporate easily and avoid over-beating, make sure your cream cheese is completely softened to room temperature before starting the recipe.
- Be mindful of the eggs: Use room temperature eggs and be gentle with your batter once you add them. Over-beating the eggs can cause your cheesecake to have a mealy texture and eggy flavor; I like to lightly mix mine with a fork before adding them to the batter just to help them incorporate more easily.
- Be gentle with your batter: While you want to make sure the batter is well combined, you don’t want to over-beat it. Over-beating your batter can cause your cheesecake to puff up while baking and crack while cooling.
- Don’t over-bake. Over-cooking a cheesecake can cause cracks and leave the interior with a slightly curdled, eggy texture. We want smooth and creamy, instead!
- Free the crust: After cooling for a few minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to help the crust pull away from the sides. If you weren’t able to press your crust high enough, use a knife to free the cheesecake itself so it can contract as it cools. Don’t remove the springform collar until your cheesecake has finished chilling!
- Cool slowly: Drastic changes in temperature can cause your cheesecake to crack, so don’t move your cheesecake straight from the oven into your fridge. Let it cool in a warm spot (I put mine on top of my oven or turn off the oven and leave the door open) until it cools to room temperature, then place it in the fridge.
SAM’S TIP: Even if you follow all of these tips and your cheesecake STILL cracks–don’t panic! We’re covering this peppermint bark cheesecake with chocolate ganache, so no one will ever know 😉
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Make sure your cheesecake is tightly wrapped and it will keep for several months. Also consider slicing your cheesecake into individual serving-sizes that way you can have a slice of cheesecake at the ready at all times (good idea or bad idea?)
Peppermint bark cheesecake (and all cheesecake) should be stored covered (to prevent any odors from seeping in) in the fridge where it will keep for up to 5 days. I like to store mine in my springform pan (I just wrap the top with plastic) until I’m ready to serve. When serving, I’ll remove the collar, serve, and then place the collar back on for storage.
This recipe will make too much batter for a 9-inch pre-made Oreo crust (springform pans are much deeper). You may be able to cut the recipe in half to make it work (or use two crusts!), but keep in mind that your bake time will be different (less).
My pumpkin cheesecake is another great festive cheesecake option for the holidays!
Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
- 35 Oreo cookies
- 5 Tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter melted
- 8 oz (226) white chocolate bars finely chopped
- 24 oz cream cheese softened (use brick-style cream cheese)
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- ½ cup (120) sour cream
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten, room temperature preferred
- ⅔ cup (100 g) mini chocolate chips
- 3 Tablespoons crushed candy canes
- 3 oz (85) dark or semisweet chocolate chopped (you can use chocolate chips or a baking bar)
- ½ cup (118 ml) heavy cream
- Additional crushed candy canes for topping optional
- Homemade whipped cream for topping optional
- Twist apart Oreo cookies, scrape out the white filling. Discard filling and place cookie shells in the basin of a food processor. Pulse until you have fine crumbs with no large pieces remaining.35 Oreo cookies
- Pour cookies into a large mixing bowl and add melted butter. Stir to combine until all crumbs are moistened.5 Tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter
- Pour mixture into a 9” springform pan and firmly press in an even layer into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C).
- Place finely chopped white chocolate in a microwave-safe dish and heat in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is smooth and melted. Set aside to cool.8 oz (226) white chocolate bars
- In another large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment), combine softened cream cheese and sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy (don’t over-beat). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are well-combined.24 oz cream cheese, ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- Add sour cream, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract and stir until completely combined.½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup (120) sour cream, ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- Stir your white chocolate, it should not have begun to re-solidify but should not be very hot. Drizzle this into your cream cheese mixture and stir until smooth and combined.
- With mixer on low-speed, add eggs and stir until just combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is completely incorporated and batter is uniform, but don’t over-mix.2 large eggs
- Add mini chocolate chips and crushed candy cane pieces and use a spatula to stir until combined.⅔ cup (100 g) mini chocolate chips, 3 Tablespoons crushed candy canes
- Pour batter into prepared crust and transfer to center rack of 325F (160C) oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until edges are set. Center may still be slightly jiggly but should be mostly set and not liquidy.
- Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours before adding ganache.
- Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.3 oz (85) dark or semisweet chocolate
- Pour cream into a small saucepan over medium/low heat. Heat the cream, stirring occasionally, until it begins to steam or just begins to simmer.½ cup (118 ml) heavy cream
- Remove from heat and pour cream over chocolate (do not stir). Cover with foil and allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- Remove foil and whisk until smooth.
- Pour over chilled cheesecake.
- Return cheesecake to refrigerator to allow ganache to become firm. Top with crushed candy canes (note that they will begin to melt after a few hours, so sometimes I add just before serving) and whipped cream, if desired, before serving.Additional crushed candy canes for topping, Homemade whipped cream for topping
StoringI store my cheesecake in the springform pan it’s baked in with a piece of plastic wrap or foil overtop to cover it. I remove the springform collar to slice and serve and then return it for storage. This cheesecake will keep this way in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.