(Sorry for the delayed posting … I ran into some technical difficulties, but we’re back in business now!)
The creaminess of a cheesecake with the flavor of chocolate – is there anything more sinfully good? I doubt it. Chocolate desserts are always popular, but when this is on the menu everyone smiles. Serve it at your next dinner party or family reunion and you’ll be legendary!
When buying the chocolate for this cheesecake, look for the best quality you can find. You will need an intense chocolate to cut through the cream cheese flavor. I like Guittard, Scharffen Berger, or Valrohna. It will be worth the extra cost as soon as you take a bite!
If you’ve never made a cheesecake before, you will need to buy a springform pan. They are specifically designed for cheesecakes and other delicate baked goods that you can’t turn upside down to get them out of the pan. Even though they aren’t too expensive, if you are only going to bake cheesecakes occasionally, you may consider buying a pan with a friend and splitting the cost.
One of the secrets to a creamy cheesecake is to make sure the cream cheese is a room temperature before you start. If it is still too cold it will be lumpy and nearly impossible to beat until completely smooth. A second important point is that you should make this at least a day ahead of when you want to serve it. It needs to chill in the refrigerator at least 8 hours and preferably overnight to completely set. It also gets creamier as it sits, so this is to your advantage. A little advance planning and you’ll have an easy dessert that everyone will love!
This recipe is from Emeril Lagasse’s book, “There’s a Chef in my Soup” which is a cookbook for children. It is full of great recipes that range from appetizers to desserts. If Emeril believes that a cheesecake is something a child can tackle, and it works for me, then I know it will turn out for you. I have struggled with cheesecakes for years, but this is one recipe that is actually easy to make.
Most cheesecake recipes call for baking it in a water bath (also called a bain marie) – this is to protect the delicate custard from cooking too fast at the edges and having an unevenly cooked cake. The big challenge with that is that most springform pans leak at least a little, and some leak a lot – like my old one! That’s why recipes requiring a water bath tell you to wrap your pan in aluminum foil. It’s the trade-off of having a pan that is easy to get the cheesecake out of – that option lets water seep in. This recipe doesn’t require a water bath, making it almost foolproof. I hope you enjoy this Chocolate Monday treat. Bon Appetit!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you are making baked goods that have an easily damaged top, using a springform pan lets you get it out of the baking pan without having to turn it upside down. The sides of the pan have a release that spreads it just enough to slide up over the cake. You can leave the cake on the removable bottom for serving or transfer it to a cardboard round or cake stand.
- 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 3/4 cup finely ground chocolate cookies (use Oreos), chocolate cookie part only, discard white filling
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate
- 2-1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 (1-1/2 oz) chocolate bar, can be milk, semisweet, or bittersweet, grated
- Make sure the oven rack is in the center position and preheat the oven to 375°F.
- To make Crust: In a large mixing bowl, combine all the crust ingredients with a fork and mix until well combined. Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake the crust until fragrant and just set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes before adding the filling. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
- To make Filling: Place semisweet chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl or glass measuring cup and cover it with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power for 30 seconds; then stir it with a spoon or rubber spatula. Continue to microwave the chocolate, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until it is completely melted and smooth. (If you don't have a microwave, you can use the double-boiler method for melting chocolate.) Set aside.
- Place the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until creamy and smooth, about 4 minutes. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Sift the cocoa powder into the cream cheese mixture and beat to incorporate.
- Turn the mixer off. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to turn the mixer off before you add each egg. Slowly add the sour cream and melted chocolate and beat until smooth.
- Slowly pour into the baked crust - try not to create any air bubbles in the batter.
- Bake at 350°F until the cake rises and puffs and the center is just set and still slightly wiggly, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the top of the cheesecake while it's still hot. Be careful not to touch the hot pan!
- Let the cheesecake cool for 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap (still in it’s baking pan) and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. When you're ready to serve the cheesecake, gently run a thin sharp knife around the inside edge of the springform pan to loosen the cake's sides, then unhook and carefully remove the outer ring of the pan. Slice and serve.
- Kick up your cheesecake by topping it with some fresh whipped cream and you can drizzle it with a chocolate sauce if you like.