Way back in March of 1990 I started making a cheesecake from a recipe that I clipped from an issue of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch. It's called Absolutely Sinful Chocolate Grasshopper Cheesecake. Its pale shade of green comes from the addition of green creme de menthe. I've always enjoyed serving it as a perfect dessert for a St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Over the years I've made little changes to the recipe. It was always sinful, but now it's mortally sinful.
Light and creamy with a hint of mint on a crunchy chocolate crust and smothered with a chocolate topping that stays soft even after chilling in the refrigerator, it's a little like Jello -- there's always room for it, even after a big meal. It's not too sweet and not nearly as rich as it sounds, making it a great go-along to a late-night cup of coffee.
If you're new to cheesecake-making, there's a few things to keep in mind before starting.
First, be sure to allow time for baking the crust and cooling it before starting on the cream cheese filling. The pre-baking gives the crust a nice crunch.
Second, take time to really beat the batter. It should be completely smooth.
Cooling and chilling the cheesecake is an important step in the whole process. It's best to make the cheesecake at least one day before you need to serve it.
And did you know that cheesecake, when wrapped well, can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months? Defrost the cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.
Sinful Chocolate Grasshopper Cheesecake
A perfect St. Patrick's Day Treat
1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I use 12 Oreo cookies)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup green creme de menthe
2 tablespoons white creme de cocoa
1 (4-ounce) bar sweet baking chocolate or 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Whipped cream for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To make the crust, first butter a 9-inch springform pan. (The one I use actually has an imprint on the bottom that tells me it's 8 1/2 inches. The sides are almost 3 inches high. When I bake the cheesecake, it rises up to the top.) Wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil or a single layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. Set aside.
Stir the cookie crumbs and melted butter together in a medium bowl until all the crumbs are uniformly moist. Turn the buttery crumbs into the prepared pan. Press crumbs evenly into bottom of pan. (At this point, the crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.) Bake the crust for 10 minutes in preheated oven.
Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325°F. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you prepare filling. I sometimes place the pan in the freezer for a quick chill.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed of an electric mixer until soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. (I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. If you use your electric hand mixer, be prepared to stand with mixer in hand for several minutes.) With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and beat for another 4 minutes, until the mixture is velvety smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the whipping cream, creme de menthe and creme de cocoa.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the pan. Bake the cheesecake for about an hour or maybe a bit more. The top should be lightly browned and will have risen to the top of the pan or maybe even a little higher than the rim of the pan. It will still seem a little jiggly in the middle.
Transfer the cheesecake in its pan to a cooling rack. Make topping by melting chocolate over very low heat in a heavy saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave on 50% power, stirring often. Allow the chocolate to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream. Spread chocolate topping on slightly cooled cheescake. Cool completely, then refrigerate several hours. Flavors will develop and improve when refrigerated overnight.
At serving time, run a blunt-tipped knife around inside edge of pan. Remove sides of pan. Cut into wedges to serve. Garnish with freshly whipped cream, if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Sue Doeden is a food writer based in Bemidji, Minn. Her columns, recipes and photos appear weekly in select Forum Communications Co. newspapers. She also appears on Lakeland Public Television's Wednesday newscast at 10 p.m., and teaches cooking classes. Her recipes can be found online on her blog Sue Doeden's All about Food.
by Scott R. Kline