We hosted Christmas this year and I have to say that it went very well. We had Michael’s parents, my parents and my Nan with us for Christmas Day, which meant cooking for seven rather than my usual two. As I have no idea of how to scale food this resulted in me making enough food for about twenty… Though leftovers are always welcome in the days after Christmas as it means you can relax and avoid the supermarket for a few days. I also managed to keep my cool throughout with the exception of a ten-minute meltdown whilst serving up Christmas Dinner, which may be a new personal best.
I suspect like most families we stick to the little traditions when it comes to Christmas Dinner. The starter is always a variation on Prawn Cocktail – which may be a bit predictable but it’s a guaranteed winner every time. Plus you can make the bulk of it in advance and only need to assemble it when it’s time to serve it up. That’s followed by Roast Turkey with all the usual trimmings – and if I’m in charge those trimmings include at least one other roast meat. Beef this year, in case you were wondering.
Whilst the first two courses follow something of a pattern dessert, however, does not! Neither Michael or I come from families that particularly like Christmas Pudding, so what gets served at the end of the meal is where the fun can happen. This year I decided to make two choices: A straightforward Pavlova, topped with Whipped Cream and Mixed Fruits, and a Mint Aero Cheesecake.
The Aero bit came quite late in the process. I knew I wanted to make something with mint and chocolate but wasn’t quite sure what. My first idea was for a dark chocolate tart with a minty layer – which I may return to in the future – but felt that it might be too rich at the end of a big meal. I soon drifted into the no-bake cheesecake territory, as I knew the texture would be light and fresh, but couldn’t quite decide on how to best flavour it.
For a while I was going to make this with After Eight chocolates (and still might one day) but again there was something about it that felt a bit too much. After Eights are lovely but you soon feel a bit icky if you eat too many. So that’s how I ended up with Mint Aero – hoping its light texture and sweet, fresh flavour would be just what I was after.
I didn’t want to cut back too far though – which is why the base is made from chocolate biscuits with a thin layer of dark chocolate on top for both flavour and texture. You could tone things down a bit here if you wanted to but sometimes it’s good to treat yourself – especially at Christmas.
I really enjoyed eating this cheesecake and will almost certainly make it again. Though as I have a few cheesecake ideas in the pipeline I don’t know when I’ll have the chance just yet. Though as I created a couple of cheesecake converts with this recipe it may be sooner than I think…
Mint Aero Cheesecake
for the Base
- 250 g Bourbon Cream biscuits or similar
- 75 g Butter melted
- 100 g Dark Chocolate
for the Filling
- 300 g Full-Fat Soft Cheese
- 300 g Double Cream
- 50 g Icing Sugar
- 1 tsp Peppermint Extract
- 1 tsp Green Food Colouring optional
- 100 g bar of Mint Aero
for the Topping
- 100 g Mint Aero Bubbles
Make the base
- Break the bourbon biscuits into chunks, then put them into a food processor. Blitz until they’ve broken down into a fine crumb. As these are a sandwich biscuit the filling may cause them to clump a bit, so you might need to bash some bits with a spatula to help separate them. Slowly pour in the melted butter whilst mixing until you get a texture like wet sand.
- Tip the mixture into a rectangular tart pan or a round 20cm springform cake tin – either will be fine, you want the base to end up around 5mm thick. Press it down with a spatula until the base is level and even. Put in the fridge to cool.
- Meanwhile, break the dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water. Don’t overwork it or stir it more than needed as this could affect its texture. Once melted, put to one side to slightly cool.
- When cooled, pour the melted chocolate over the biscuit base and spread thinly. This creates a nice rich layer between the base and the filling and stops the base from becoming too moist.
Make the filling
- Put the cream cheese into a large bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon until it has softened and become light in texture.
- In a separate bowl whip the cream until it’s forming soft peaks, then sift in the icing sugar and mix until combined. Add in the peppermint extract and food colouring, if using, and stir through. Fold the whipped cream through the cream cheese mixture until well combined.
- Chop the Aero bar into a fine crumb – don’t reduce it to dust, as you want some texture, but equally try and avoid big chunks too. When you’re happy with the texture, add the chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and stir through.
- Once combined, pour over the prepared biscuit base and smooth the top.
Add the topping
- Decorate the top of the cheesecake with the Aero Mint bubbles. I’m not a fan of lots of perfectly arranged rows on top of this cheesecake, so chose to chop and bash them up a bit to give a rougher finish. However, if you want a tidier finish then you do you 🙂
- Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving. This not only lets the mixture set properly, but allows the flavours to mix a little bit too. Just make sure you take it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before serving to make it easier to slice (and eat).