A collection of home-grown recipes from my little kitchen to yours - mostly sweet, but some savory. Really whatever I've been mixing up...between family time, dirty diapers, tantrums, and cuddles...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Some people say that you should never mess with a classic.  In the baking world, this translates to: don't mess with really good plain cheesecake - ie.  stop making funky flavors and messing with the original!  The graham cracker crust, the smooth cream cheese filling, the sour cream topping.  There was a time in my baking life that I believed this wholeheartedly, but no more!  Especially when daring to make a chocolate cheesecake, there's a huge potential of over-doing it - when the chocolate masks the fact that it's actually cheesecake you are eating!  While this recipe has LOADS of chocolate in it, you will find there to still be a light filling and a strangely familiar crust, considering it is also made with graham crackers...just chocolate ones!  So, dare I say, break out of your shell, and dare to be blown away by a *tasteful* rendition of the classic!

- 2 packets of chocolate graham crackers, crumbled in the food processor
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbs cocoa powder
- 4 tbs granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup), melted

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the dry crust ingredients together in a bowl, then add the melted butter, stirring until combined.  Dump the mixture into a 9 - inch springform pan, pressing the crumble down with your fingers, and allowing the crust to travel up the sides of the pan, about half way.  Place in the oven, baking the crust for about 10 minutes - be careful to not over bake!  Because it's chocolate, you can't see any browning, so keep alert with your nose :)  Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you whip up the filling - reduce the oven temp to 300 degrees while you're at it.

- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules
- 3 bricks of cream cheese (24 oz), room temp is best
- 4 tbs cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temp
- To decorate, a chocolate bar

Melt the chocolate first, giving it time to cool off on the counter (I put the chopped chocolate in a glass bowl and heat it in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until most is melted and then just keep stirring it until it's smooth).  In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, vanilla, and instant coffee until the coffee has dissolved - set aside.  In a stand mixer (or with a handheld mixer), beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the cocoa and salt.

Scrape down the bowl and paddle, and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Keep doing this until the mixture has no clumps and is smooth - at this point, you can't over mix!  Add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Now, scrape the mostly cooled chocolate into the batter, and blend until combined well.  Beat in the sour cream mixture.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each addition, but don't over beat the eggs!

Pour the filling over the baked crust, smoothing out the top with a spatula.  Bake at 300 degrees for approximately 45 minutes (rotating if needed).  Then, turn the oven off and leave the door closed with the cake still in there for 30 more minutes!  Don't open the oven during this time (doing this helps the cheesecake not crack).  After the 30 minutes, take the cheesecake out of the oven an place on the counter to come down to room temp by itself - this takes a few hours!  After it's cooled down, you should store it in the fridge with aluminum foil over it until you serve it, at least about 3 hours (warm cheesecake is not good!).

To decorate, use your peeler to shave curls of chocolate onto the top of the cheesecake.  I do this by placing your chocolate bar on the counter near your oven while whipping up the cake - the warm oven softens it up just a bit so the curls form easily and don't break apart.

Hope this is everything you wished for in a chocolate cheesecake!  Enjoy, and happy indulging!

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