Hershey's Kisses Candy Cane Swirl Cheesecake and the Beauty of Cream Cheese

I love trying out new recipes, but it seems I'm always trying out new recipes.  It seems wherever I go, I am always bringing something new and untested.  Whenever I bring a dessert to any gathering, I also bring along some disclaimers and apologies, like "Warning, everybody: I tried a new recipe, so I have no idea how this cake will taste" or "I'm sorry these cookies turned out a little dry--I was testing a new mixing method."  This past weekend I brought a cheesecake recipe I have never tried before to my brother's Christmas party, and due to the magic of cream cheese, it was delicious.  No disclaimers.  No apologies.

As you may know I have a weakness for all things Hershey and so as soon as I saw this lovely cheesecake on the Hershey website, I knew it would show up at some gathering this holiday season.  I love Hershey kisses and although the Candy Cane Hershey Kisses are cute and tasty, they really don't hold a candle the original milk chocolate Kisses.  But, just add a little cream cheese... and voila! You have an irresistible dessert!

Cream cheese has that kind of effect on just about any food, any time of day.  Put cream cheese on your English muffin instead of butter and it's a highly satisfying breakfast.  Add a little cream cheese to your sandwich instead of mayo, and yum!  Spread a little cream cheese on a Wheat Thin, and you have a delightful little snack.  Mix a little cream cheese into your mashed potatoes and your guests will all be asking for your mashed potato secret.  Mix any cookie or fruit into cream cheese and bake it over a cookie crust and you have a rich, delectable dessert.  

Cream cheese truly is a magic food and if you are a fan of peppermint desserts, you can't pass this up.  In fact, even if you don't really like peppermint desserts, this one may change your mind.  I love cheesecake and this one turned out wonderfully rich and perfectly sweet.  Bring this one to your Christmas dinner and you'll be a cheesecake hero!

The two little adaptations I made were the topping and the mixing of the candy cane swirl into the cheesecake.  If you were to follow the directions on the Hershey website, the swirl would show up mainly on top on the cheesecake and not all throughout (unlike the picture on website--I can't figure out how they did that--It almost looks like there are whole kisses in the cheesecake).  So I altered the mixing instructions and was pleased with the result.  As for the topping, instead of placing whole Candy Cane Kisses on top of the cheese cake, I chopped them up and sprinkled them in a circle on the cake.   Also, be sure to use vanilla wafers for the crust--it was wonderful!

Here is my adapted recipe:

Hershey's Kisses Candy Cane Swirl Cheese Cake

Crust Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (Hershey's Kitchens say about 45 cookies, but I say it takes a few more than that)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

Cheesecake ingredients:

3 packages of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
42 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, divided
1 Tablespoon milk

Instructions for Cookie Crumb Crust:

Heat oven to 350.  Stir together cookie crumbs and sugar.  Blend in melted butter.  Press crust mixture onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 minutes.  Cool.

Instructions for Cheesecake:

Heat oven to 350.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside.

Remove wrappers from candies. Place 30 candies and milk in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until candies are melted and mixture is well blended when stirred. Blend 1/4 cup cheesecake batter into candy mixture.  Pour half of remaining cheesecake batter onto cooled crust.  Drizzle half of the candy cane mixture on top that that.  Add remaining cheesecake batter.  Drizzle remaining candy cane mixture.  Gently swirl the cheesecake batter and candy cane mixture together with the blade of a knife for a marbled effect. 

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan.  While cheesecake is cooling chop up remaining 12 Candy Cane Kisses.  When cheesecake is still slightly warm, sprinkle chopped up Kisses around the outside edge.  The warmth from the cake will melt them on.  When cheesecake is cool, remove sides of pan. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.


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