Thin Mint Showdown: Fudge Truffle Cheesecake w/ Thin Mint Whipped Cream

One can never have enough Thin Mints. At least that's what we thought until Managing Editor Amy Silverman brought in a dozen unsold boxes to a recent Chow Bella meeting. If one must make lemonade when life hands one lemons, we theorized one must make dessert when life hands one unwanted Girl Scout cookies. (Check out Jonathan McNamara's Thin Mint pie, Wynter Holden's Mojito Madness cups, Carol Blonder's Steeplechase Cupcakes, and Adriane Goetz's Thin Mint Pudding Cups.)

After a 4 year hiatus from making cheesecakes, I decided to pull out my most loved recipe for my very first Chow Bella showdown.

Unfortunately, making a cheesecake isn't quite like riding a bike, especially at 9 p.m. on a Monday. Little details like making sure the ingredients were at room temperature will do wonders for your cheesecake.

(Recipes after the jump.) 

Thin Mint Crust
2/3 box of Thin Mint Cookies or about 1 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter

Throw the cookies into a food processor (if you don't have one, put them in a bowl and crush with the bottom of a heavy glass) until they are completely destroyed. In a bowl, mix cookie crumbs and butter. Transfer to a 9" spring-form pan and press firmly onto the bottom.

What I would have done if I was smart: wrap tin foil around the bottom of the pan or line the oven with foil. Tiny crumbs of chocolate, like on smashed Thin Mints, melt just like big chunks of chocolate and will destroy your oven.

Fudge Truffle Cheesecake (adapted from Hershey's Best Loved Recipes)
The previously mentioned crust
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14oz)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make sure cream cheese, eggs and condensed milk are all at room temperature before you begin.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Toss the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and nuke those suckers on high for about a minute and a half or until they are just melted.

While the chips are melting, put the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat on medium until fluffy about 2 minutes. slowly add the condensed milk to the cream cheese while still beating at medium. Add the melted chips, eggs and vanilla. Mix just until everything likes each other and then stop. Don't let it get too fluffy. (Trust me, this makes more sense when you are actually doing it.)

Pour the mixture into the spring-form pan with your Thin Mint crust. If it seems like you have too much, you might have over mixed it. Not to worry, it will still taste good, it just won't be as dense. Don't try and fit it all in the pan, leave a little bit of space at the top.

Stick it in the oven and bake for about an hour. To keep the cheesecake from cracking place a shallow pan filled with water the bottom of the oven. It's done when you can stick a knife in it and it comes out clean. don't worry you can cover the knife marks up with a cookie later.

Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool for about two hours before you stick it in the fridge. I usually like to let them hang out in the fridge overnight before decorating.

Thin Mint Whipped Cream
1/3 box of Thin Mint Cookies
1/4 cup cold water
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soften the gelatin by mixing it in a big bowl (you'll thank me later) with two tablespoons of cold water. Let it sit for 3-4 minutes

Food process or crush the cookies into the finest powered you can get. Set aside.

This part is kinda gross and if you have never microwaved gelatin, you are in for a real treat. First off it expands and second the smell is horrendous. It really lets you know what gelatin is made of. Anyway, mix the rest of the water in with the softened gelatin, stick it in the microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes stirring every 45 seconds. let it cool for about 10 minutes. It needs to be liquid but it MUST be room temperature. If you get impatient, it will curdle the cream. I know from experience.

Beat heavy cream on medium high speed for a couple minutes and then slowly add the vanilla, powdered sugar, then the gelatin, and finally the cookie powder.

I usually stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen it up if I am using a pastry bag. (I'm cheap so I actually use Ziploc bags.)

Finally, decorate away and enjoy!

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