Do Reindeer Bark?


No, but they do eat bark.  Surely not nearly as satisfying, though, as is peppermint bark, a holiday specialty combining chocolate and crushed mints.  Superb, and improved even more when incorporated in a cheesecake using crushed Oreos as a crust and topped with more peppermint bark and a dollop of crème de menthe-infused whipped cream.

The creation is an inspiration and is found, of all places, in an advertisement for Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  From whence it’s presented here, though with considerable modifications.  For one thing, it’s baked into bars, instead of the more familiar round cheesecake form, as the former is better-suited to transportation and sharing, as is this site’s usual practice with desserts.

There also is considerable tinkering with the ingredients.  Nothing that diminishes the final result (with all due humility – if you’re reading, Santa – quite the opposite), but various nudges here and there.  For one thing, as it’s a Kraft company ad, the ingredients mostly are Kraft products, understandably.

Of course, Philadelphia Cream Cheese would’ve been used anyway, and it stayed on the list. Oreos, on the other hand, aren’t a Kraft product, and the recipe tied itself in knots trying to avoid naming them, specifying instead, “vanilla crème-filled chocolate sandwich cookies.”  Oh, for crying out loud – just use Oreos, all right?

Cool Whip, meanwhile, didn’t make the cut.  Not that the product isn’t good as far as it goes, but homemade whipped cream is nearly as easy and is much better.  Plus, the “family-friendly” ad wouln’t have included booze, so there’s that.

The final concoction has the silky creaminess you expect from cheesecake, though also infused with chocolate’s richness and peppermint’s fresh tingle.  Reindeer don’t bark, but Santa certainly has them huffing and puffing as he hurries home to the North Pole to get some of this cheesecake.  If he misses a house – or a continent – or two this year, it’s obvious this treat has given Claus a whole new set of priorities.  Buy your own @$&*#! gifts.

*****

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

  • 18 vanilla creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed (*1)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 30 starlight mints, divided
  • 4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, divided

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl mix together the cookies and the melted butter.  Press this into the bottom of the baking pan and cook for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, crush 25 of the mints.  In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and the sugar until combined.  At low speed, add the eggs one at a time.  When each is just incorporated, add the next one.  Add the white chocolate, crushed mints and the extract, and continue mixing until just blended.  Turn off the motor.

Chop half the semiseet chocolate and fold it into the batter with a rubber spatula.  Pour batter into the baking pan, over the crust.

Bake for an hour, then set on a rack to cool.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cheesecake.  Once the cheesecake is cooled, after about half an hour, put it in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

Just before you remove the cheesecake from the fridge, crush the remaining mints and chop the last half of the semisweet chocolate.   Cut the cheesecake into individual pieces and carefully remove it from the pan.  Sprinkle each piece with some of the chocolate and mints, then top with whipped cream (recipe below) if desired.

NOTES:

1 – Ah, that infamous line, and ah, my infamous reply, “Just use Oreos, all right?”

*****

Crème de Menthe-Infused Whipped Cream

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons crème de menthe (*2)

Place a mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer.  After they’re completely frosted, about twenty minutes, remove them and attach them to the mixer.

Pour the cream into the mixer bowl and, with the motor at low speed, gradually pour in the powdered sugar.  Once it’s incorporated, gradually increase the mixer speed to high.  Pour in the crème de menthe and continue at high speed until the cream is light and fluffy.  Apply to the cheesecake either with a soup spoon, or in a pastry bag fitted with the closed-tip star.

NOTES:

2 – Crème de menthe comes in two colors. clear or green.  Use the clear variety, as the green type merely darkens the whipped cream.

 

 

35 thoughts on “Do Reindeer Bark?

  1. ok so I could physically feel the kilos piling on just reading this one Keith! YUM! This includes a lot of my preferred flavours but fortunately I just nibbled the most delicious traditional gingerbread man made by a young lady at our local markets.

    Hope you get a well deserved rest during the holiday season … people here are enjoying some delightful weather after ten days of heavy rain and high winds.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Kate!

      One thing the unfortunate weather does encourage is partaking of comfort foods. Of which gingerbread has to be a leading example. If the weather gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or gingerbread, more like.

      Anyway, enjoy your delightful weather. Right now, we’re between snowstorms, but it’s Christmas and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides, what better time to dream of the delightful weather we’ll enjoy too in a few months?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, Kate! You show a wonderful appreciation for the snowy arts, particularly for an Australian. Must’ve been all that time you spent in Bavaria.

        Now, wait a second, though – we lay claim to “temperate” too. We both are part of the big happy “temperate” family, though ever since that contentious family reunion back in ’91, the subtropicals and the subarctics don’t have much to say to each other. Sure we get plenty of snow, but if you’re looking for the real deep freeze, you have to trudge a couple provinces to the north, well into Canada.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Surely when you mention transportation and sharing you do not mean to suggest that people break COVID protocol. I don’t want to have to pull a Tom Cruise here. I’m sure you meant to suggest something along the lines of ding-dong ditch… dropping the treats and a few sanitary wipes at your target’s door…. seems much more like something you would recommend. And I know, don’t call you Shirley, right? 😂

    Love the little Oreo story… I suppose including the brand name would have meant some kind of profit payout from the mention. How preposterous!

    I do believe this may be your best recipe of the year. Cheesecake, peppermints and chocolate cookies, yum!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much appreciated, JoAnn! When I’m writing about food, I often get carried away, and forget our usual foodways are on hold. Temporarily, I trust.

      Remembering the better days that once were, and will be again, helps keep spirits from flagging.

      Yeah, those recipes within ads, despite their culinary virtues, often cross into ridiculousness. It’s one thing to be loyal to one’s company and to promote its profitability, but it’s another thing to make yourself a buffoon in doing so.

      Case in point, Kraft (Philadelphia Cream Cheese, et al.). Awesome recipe…spot-on! Though, do you really have to shout each ingredient’s brand name? You very nearly made us forget the splendor of peppermint, well, anything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alas, we do live in a capitalist society. I remember getting annoyed when stadiums started taking on completely ridiculous brand names… Granted, Wrigley Field doesn’t sound too bad… Busch Stadium, ok, people do drink a lot of beer at games. But, Camping World Stadium? Are they for real? Aside from an extremely loose association with tailgaiting what does camping have to do with playing football?

        I do hope you know I was totally kidding about the transportation and sharing thing. I have no reservations about your adherence to safety.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Worst of all are the college bowl games (i.e., the college football championships). The big ones are named after the stadiums, and thus they don’t alarm. Here you’ll find the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Citrus Bowl…

        However, two minor, minor schools line up to decide who can lay claim to being, what, the nation’s 1,756th-best college team? They square off in the Blockbuster DVD Bowl (well, not…any more), or in the Alamo Rent-a-Car Bowl.

        I don’t begrudge, and in fact I celebrate, anyone’s desire to make a buck, but must it be at Logic’s expense?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s a border Reality violates several times a year.

        After all, when you’re dying to see the matchup between Boise State and Delaware Technical College, only the Tostitos Bowl will fill the terrifying void in your life.

        Eventually, it’ll be too much, even, for college athletes to bear. “Nope, I’m not going. No way am I going to play in a Ding-Dong Bowl!”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a bunch, Rachel!

      Believe it or not, I really don’t like alcohol either. Not for straight-up drinking, at least. As a cooking ingredient, though… Anyway, if I, of all people, tell you you can’t taste the creme-de-menthe, you can count on it being a subtle presence.

      As for sharing, once again, our minds coincide. In fact, just after photographing the peppermint cheesecake I boxed it on ice, wrote “Writer in Retrospect” on the label and sent it on its way. Figured it’d make a nice Christmas present. What do you mean, it never arrived?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sticky-fingered letter carriers!

        Hey, we give them lots of latitude, including permission to “go postal” every once in a while, but is it too much to ask them not to help themselves to the merchandise?

        Every week (long before we met too!) I mailed you samples. Now you’re telling me you didn’t get any of them? Who’s guilty? Look for a 600-pound mailman and you’ll have your culprit, Miss Marple.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Greatly appreciate it, Jenn!

      Did the cheesecake merely awaken your sweet tooth? It gave me a full-bore vampire bite. Now I’ll roam the nights forever, searching for peppermint cheesecake.

      Wait, don’t I have the recipe? Maybe I do, but I never let dull facts obscure a colorful description.

      Anyway, quite a legacy for a recipe that came from an ad for Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Greatly obliged, Mar!

      Yes, my Christmas was nice, thank you. And yours?

      You’re in Boston, right? I ask because we got nearly a foot of snow down here in Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve, and I only can imagine how much fell where you are. Friends of mine lived on the North Shore, and whatever snow we got in PA was doubled in Boston.

      Like

      1. That could be it, Angela.

        Of course, these machines resist all attempts to understand them. After all, the same thing happened to me, and I maintained my email address throughout.

        In addition. there was a significant decline in comments and visitors here, on this site, in October and in November. Perhaps the joint aggravations of the election and the virus got to people, and they didn’t feel particularly sociable. Or so I thought, but now I wonder if technology was a culprit too. Reading of your own experiences have me thinking….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It could’ve ben any one of 1.001 things. Or all of them. for that matter.

        Still, 2020 certainly did its worst, yet we’re still here.

        Three weeks in, it looks like 2021 is going to give us a hard time too. Oh well, what to do, but to learn and to persist? Something ours species has made its specialty over the last several thousand years.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah Angela, something else have in common, then.

        Believe it or not, well past childhood I was pessimistic and rather glum. In his last few years here (in the last few years in this step, at least) my father changed that.

        It’s funny, we probably all go through a stage in which we don’t want to be anything like our parents. Fortunate are those who realize we ARE our parents. Thanks to their efforts, the very best parts, actually. What higher tribute can we pay them than to be their lives’ highlight reels?

        Like

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