I have a bit of a sweet tooth…
And by that, I mean every single tooth in my mouth, including the two upper wisdom teeth I never had removed. So needless to say, one of my favorite parts about the holiday season is getting to bake and then enthusiastically consume different desserts. Over the last few years, my mom has given me free reign on the desserts for Christmas Eve, so I look forward to working on this part of our menu. This year, I turned to Southern Living’s Christmas Cookbook (2011 edition) once more, and we decided on the following two desserts for Christmas Eve: a chocolate chunk candy cane cheesecake and a chocolate-bourbon-pecan cake. Apologies if just reading those names gave you a cavity, but if you like desserts as much as I do, you’ll want to bake these yourselves!
Chocolate Chunk Candy Cane Cheesecake:
How could I not pick this for Christmas Eve? You just don’t get any more holiday festive than candy canes. Now, we (I) should have ready the recipe the day before and realized that with the needed 8 hours of chilling, we should have made this cheesecake on the 23rd. But I think in the end it’s a good thing we didn’t because I’m sure my mom and I would have been tempted to devour the entire thing while the boys were out golfing. As it was, we had to control ourselves on not licking the mixing bowl clean of batter. This is a judgment free zone, folks.
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 32 cookies)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
- 1/2 cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies (about 18 candies)
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
- Garnishes: 65 soft peppermint sticks (5 small bags), broken, peppermint bark (we didn’t have any peppermint bark)
- Preheat oven to 325. Combine first 3 ingredients; stir well. Press mixture firmly on bottom of a lightly greased 9″ spring-form pan. Bake at 325 for 14 minutes; let cool.
- Beat cream cheese at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, beating just until blended. Add 1/3 cup whipping cream and next 3 ingredients, beating just until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in chocolate chunks and crushed candies.
- Pour batter into baked crust. Bake at 325 for 52 to 55 minutes or until edges are set and center is almost set. Turn off oven. Immediately run a knife around edge of pan, releasing sides. With oven door slightly open, let cheesecake stand in oven 1 hour. Remove from oven; cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours. Remove sides and bottom of pan; place cheesecake on a serving plate (confession: I totally didn’t see the part about cooling first in the oven for an hour, so we skipped straight to cooling on a wire rack and it turned out just fine).
- Pour 3/4 cup whipping cream into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 1 minute or until hot. Add 1 1/2 cups semisweet morsels; stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour ganache over chilled cheesecake, allowing ganache to spill over edges of cheesecake; smooth ganache with an offset spatula. Let stand 10 minutes before garnishing, if desired.
Since we wouldn’t be getting enough chocolate with just the cheesecake, I thought we should give this dessert a shot (nice pun with the Bourbon, right?). I also wanted to see if I would be better at a multi-layer cake this year compared to last Christmas, and I’m happy to say, it was a much more successful process this time around. This cake is moist and not as rich as you would expect, so go ahead and serve yourself a bigger slice (we all made New Year’s resolutions to exercise more). It’s so good, even Wrigley couldn’t resist it…
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- Two-part frosting (ingredients and directions provided below)
- Garnish: pecans
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 (9″) round cake pans. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk together 1 1/2 cups boiling water and cocoa, whisking until smooth. Whisk in milk and vanilla.
- Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating at medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients alternately with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks (about 1 hour). Wrap and freeze cake layers 1 hour (this step enables you to split cake layers with ease).
- Using a serrated knife, slice cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Brush cut side of each layer with bourbon. Spread pecan frosting between layers. Spread top and sides of cake with chocolate frosting. For best flavor, cover and let stand at room temperature 8 to 24 hours before serving. Garnish if desired.
Two-part frosting ingredients:
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 (16-oz.) packages powdered sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans, toasted
- 2 tbsp. milk, divided
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. With mixer at low speed, gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating until blended. Add 1/2 cup milk and vanilla, beating until blended.
- Gradually add remaining powdered sugar beating until smooth. Remove 3 cups frosting, and place in separate bowl; stir in pecans and 1 tbsp. milk (this pecan frosting will be used as the filling). Add cocoa and remaining 1 tbsp. milk to frosting in mixing bowl, beating until blended.