Chocolate Cheesecake

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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).

Chocolate Cheesecake

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

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
3 eggs
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.

Toss them in a large zip-top bag (or your food processor) and smash them to bits. I usually use a rolling pin for this, but a mallet or even a wine bottle (etc.) would also work.

You want to wind up with a fairly fine crumb, like this.

Take your butter and whack it into a few pieces. Melt it in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove over low heat.

(Mmmm, melted butter…)

Measure out your cookie crumbs and add them to the 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.

Toss in the cocoa powder and the flour.

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. :D)

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!

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Ooooooo. Looks fabulous and delicious.
    My cheesecakes always crack too. I don’t care a smidge though. I make a sweetened sour cream and spread it on top to hide it. Plus it just tastes great. Maybe a sweetened chocolate version would do the trick too. Yum!

  2. I noticed you ran a knife blade around the edges when it was still hot. What if you didn’t loosen it up with a knife, but cooled it upside down suspended by the edges on some wooden boards, like angel cake – perhaps it wouldn’t crack and shrink so much. Anyway it looks delicious and I will make it this week. I will let you know how it worked with the above change in cooling.

    • I did that to loosen it. Honestly, I wouldn’t try cooling it upside down. The cheesecake is really dense, and I have a feeling it would fall right apart on you (which would be such a shame). Good luck!

  3. Mmmmmmmm I made this last night. Can I just say…Ah-MAY-zing! Delicious! And fairly easy to put together too! I WILL be making this again!

  4. Glad I came across this recipe, I am definitely gonna try it! But I just wanted to perhaps give you a few tips or suggestions:

    Usually when I make my cheesecake, I bake it on 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then 250 for about an hour and a half after… have you try this? As overbaking is a staple for cracking with cheesecakes.

    Perhaps if you form a graham cracker base along the sides of the springform, may also help, instead of just at he bottom. So that the cheesecake can have some type of structure to hold onto, so that it doesn’t sink or crack.

    Or perhaps you are just overmixing your batter, which is definitely another staple for cheesecake to crack, you may want to reduce your beating time and stir it gently to mix.

    Also are you waiting before or after the cheesecake comes out to run a spatula around the edges? I usually do it 2 t o 3 minutes after, it may or may not mess up the edge cause its still hot but I still do it.

    I don’t have the issue of cracking when I bake cheesecakes, I’m assuming its because of the above suggestions. But all in all, this looks good and I’m sure it was good as all hell!

    BTW: I have never tempered my cheesecakes, I will try this one day but not sure if it would make a difference in taste, I’m thinking maybe consistency at best.

  5. I made this cheesecake last weekend, it was my first cheesecake (obviously to cook not to eat – I’ve eaten plenty), and it was delicious. I have no tips, other than to say folks should make this cheesecake and folks will be impressed and content. Thanks!

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