When I started out on my self-appointed task to make homemade versions of some popular Girl Scout cookies, I didn’t have any problem picking out Do-Si-Dos, Samoas and Tagalongs as my top choices. But I thought it might be fun to throw in a recipe that used Girl Scout cookies, too, and this is that recipe. I opted to use the ever-popular Thin Mints – crispy, chocolate dipped mint chocolate wafers – as a crumb crust to compliment a vanilla cheesecake.
Because the cookies are chocolate-covered, the idea of an unbaked crust appealed to me as it guaranteed that I wouldn’t end up with chocolate running all over the floor of my oven. No-bake cheesecakes, however, have never been a favorite of mine because there seem to be so many ways to screw them up. They should be easy to make because you don’t need to worry about over cooking or fussing with a water bath, as you do with some baked cheesecakes, but I’ve had too many that are extremely fluffy (Cool Whip/marshmallow-type consistency) or far too dense (straight cream cheese, perhaps cut with a little lemon zest). This in mind, I decided to see if I could find a nice middle ground that would taste like a nice, creamy cheesecake while still showcasing my mint chocolate crust.
I used a mixture of cream cheese and whipping cream as the base for the cheesecake – the cheese for flavor and texture and the cream for lightness. Held together with a bit of gelatine (or gelatin, if you prefer), the cake turned out beautifully: easy to make and satisfying to eat. It is light and creamy, yet not “airy” at all. It’s quite a bit lighter than most baked cheesecakes, though in this case it really seems to let the mint chocolate flavor of the crust stand out. In fact, the whole dessert reminds me a little bit of mint chocolate chip ice cream, flavor-wise.
Now, if you don’t have a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints or you don’t want to make them yourself, Keebler makes a cookie called Grasshoppers that are identical to Thin Mints. Same texture, same shape, same nutritional stats, same taste – and they’re usually really inexpensive when they’re on sale.
No-Bake Vanilla Cheesecake with Thin Mint Crust
1 box Thin Mint-type cookies*
2 tbsp butter, softened
16-oz cream cheese, softened (low fat is fine)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp hot water
1/4-oz powdered gelatine (2 1/2 tsp or 1 packet)
1 cup heavy/whipping cream
Lightly butter the sides, but not the bottom, of a 9-inch springform pan.
In a food processor, whiz together Thin mints and butter until mixture is coarse crumbs. Press cookie crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate crust for 20-30 minutes.
In the food processor (wipe out excess crumbs, but there is no need to clean it) whiz together softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until creamy, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula to ensure even consistency.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, whisk together hot water and gelatine. If gelatine is not fully dissolved, microwave the mixture in 30-45 second intervals, whisking until gelatin is entirely suspended.
Turn on the food processor and with the motor running, slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Keep the motor running and stream in the whipping cream, continuing to process until filling is light and smooth.
Pour cheesecake filling into prepared pan and rap gently on the counter to even out the surface of the cake and shift any large air bubbles out of the batter.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until well-set.
Slice with a warm, clean knife to get neat slices.
*A box of Thin Mints should have 36 cookies in it. I used 32 cookies for my crust. While you can certainly incorporate all of them, feel free to save a few to snack on or to garnish your plates with. The crust is reasonably thick and 4-8 cookies reserved should not make a huge impact on the final product.