Dark Chocolate Cheesecake


Spring is crazy for us.  Planting, cleaning, starting up our bodies and minds for the challenges that lay just moments ahead, Easter, birthdays... the list goes on and on.  I took some time this last weekend to make an incredible birthday cake for a special boy that loves chocolate.  My Ian turned four in the midst of all the craziness.  His favorite things to eat are chocolate, strawberries, and more chocolate!  This boy could be encapsulated in chocolate and enjoy every minute eating his way out.  It seems like a very grown up cake for a four year old, but he is a sophisticated little man, so he has had no problem devouring every morsel remaining of this cake!


The best thing about this cake is the three layers of chocolate.  You start with a chocolate wafer base, build onto it with a creamy and thick layer of cheesecake, then top it all of with a smooth layer of ganache.  Deadly, but just right for special occasions!  Serve it with great vanilla bean ice cream, and it lightens it up just enough to keep nibbling.


DARK CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
adapted from Anne Thornton

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:
1 9-oz package of chocolate wafers or 1 1/2 packages of chocolate graham crackers
1 tsp fine salt
1 stick butter, melted

Filling:
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs

Glaze:
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp honey

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 350┬║.  Spray an 8-inch-diameter springform pan with cooking spray.  

For the crust:  In a food processor, grind the cookies until finely ground.  Blend in the salt and melted butter, it should be like wet sand.  Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the pan.  Bake until set, about 7 minutes and allow to cool while preparing the filling.  

For the filling:  Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat until melted, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute until the chocolate is completely melted.  In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and cocoa powder together, stirring out any lumps.  (You may have to pass it through a sieve to remove all of the lumps.)  In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, and then add the sugar-cocoa mixture.  Beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula often.  Blend in the eggs, one at a time.  Mix in the melted chocolate and stir until completely incorporated.  

Pour the filling over the cooled crust, tap the pan to remove any air pockets and then smooth the top to even.  Bake until the center is just set (it will still jiggle) and looks just dry.  I start checking mine at about 45 minutes, it usually takes an hour, give or take depending on the day.  Remember when you remove the cake, it will continue to bake as it cools. Run a knife around the edges of the springform pan, but don't remove the cake.  Chill in the refrigerator overnight.   It's okay if the edges are uneven or the top slightly cracked, you can cut off the raised edges with a sharp knife and the ganache layer will cover up any flaws or cracks... great little secret!  

For the glaze:  Stir the heavy cream, chopped chocolate, and honey in a medium sized heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Pour over the center of the cheesecake and spread to the edge, filling any cracks and covering any flaws.  Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour.  DEVOUR!!!


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