As much as I hate to admit it, The Angry Chef and I are turning into those people who communicate with friends largely via text message.
Our good friend the Baron Von Hammer came to visit us recently, right around his birthday. That being a rather auspicious occasion, I wanted to make him something special. So naturally (and kind of embarrassingly) I sent him a text to ask him about it.
Our exchange went something like this:
Me: What is your favorite dessert, please?
The Baron: Chocolate! Or cheesecake.
Me: How would you feel about a chocolate cheesecake?
The Baron: I would love it!
When he landed in Salem, The Baron announced his arrival in kind:
The Baron: I am here! At Gulu Gulu, enjoying some fine Czech beer.
Now, Gulu has a great beer list, so we could hardly blame him. So, we harnessed up the beasts and mosied off to collect him. After poking around our favorite comic book store and kitchen shop, we headed home to catch up properly—and, of course, to feast.
Get to the cheesecake!
Yep, yep. Sorry!
SO! This cheesecake is based on a recipe by Emeril Lagasse. I made a few modifications (screwed around with the amount of sour cream and added some chocolate liquor and cocoa powder to deepen the chocolate flavor), and it came out great.
It was rich, dense, tangy—and packed with chocolate-y goodness.
Cheesecake is delicious…even when the top cracks
At this point in my life, I think I’m just one of those people who’s destined to bake cheesecakes with cracks.
I’ve tried all the tricks. Bake it with a pan of water in the oven. Let it cool in the oven with the door cracked. To no avail. My beautiful cheesecake that starts out looking like this:
Ends up looking like this by the time it’s completely cool:
Luckily, this is strictly an aesthetic problem, and doesn’t at all interfere with the out-of-this-world deliciousity that is this cheesecake. If this happens to you, just toss on some kind of yummy garnish and keep moving.
Try a handful of fresh mint leaves, sliced strawberries, whipped cream, or chocolate ganache (if you wanted to be really wicked).
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (or chocolate wafer cookie crumbs)
1 cup plus 3 Tbls. sugar
3 Tbls. butter, melted + more to grease the pan
16 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. creme de cacao or chocolate liquor
2 Tbls. flour
1 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
Yields one 9-inch cheesecake. Serves one, or more (about 12-16) if you feel like sharing.
Make the cookie crumb crust
Grab your chocolate graham crackers. If you can’t find them, you can totally also use chocolate wafer cookies.
You want to wind up with a fairly fine crumb, like this.
(Mmmm, melted butter…)
Toss in 3 Tablespoons of sugar.
Mix it all together until the butter and sugar are evenly distributed and all the crumbs are moist. You’re aiming for the consistency of wet sand.
Grab your springform pan.
That’s one of these jobbies, with the buckle on the side.
Grease the bottom and sides with butter.
Toss in the cookie crumb mixture.
Spread it around and press it down so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan in a fairly even layer.
Be sure to pack it down well, to help keep it from crumbling when you cut it.
Set the pan aside for a few. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. (If you’re using a dark pan like mine, bake your cheesecake at 325 degrees. If you’re using a regular silver pan, raise the heat to 350 degrees.)
Make the chocolate cheesecake filling
Melt the chocolate and set it aside. (You can do this in the microwave on high, stirring every 20 seconds or so—or in a bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove.)
Toss the cream cheese and the sour cream into the bowl of your mixer.
Add the creme de cacao and the remaining 1 cup of sugar to the bowl. Beat it together until smooth.
Beat to incorporate.
Add the melted chocolate. Beat to incorporate.
(Resist the urge to jump in and swim around in the bowl with your mouth open.)
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each to incorporate.
You’ll wind up with a medium-thick batter that makes nice, goopy ribbons off the beater:
Bake the chocolate cheesecake
Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
Smooth down the surface with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon.
Pop it into your preheated oven and bake at 325 degrees (350 if you’re using a silver, not a dark, pan) for 60 – 70 minutes. (And if you have any magic tricks for avoiding cracks in the surface, by all means, use them. )
When it’s done, it will look cooked on the edges and *almost* set in the center.
Cool and serve
When it’s done, remove it from the oven gently.
Let it cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then run a small, sharp knife around the inside edge to loosen it up.
Let it cool completely in the pan before removing the outer rim. As your cheesecake cools, it will sink a little, and may crack on the top (see my comments earlier in this post).
Pop the cheesecake into the fridge for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before serving.
Slice, serve, and inhale. Enjoy!