Saturday, January 16, 2010

Low & Lush Chocolate Cheesecake


The past couple of months I missed out on some amazing desserts featured by the Tuesdays With Dorie baking group. In an attempt to catch up, I made the following recipe that was done as a baking challenge a few weeks ago. I'm so glad I picked this recipe and served it to guests for last night's dinner - it was definitely a hit!

I've always liked cheesecake and for a long time, I was intimidated to attempt making it at home. The whole business with a bain marie, making a crust, baking the filling without cracking, etc... it was all too much! But I have to thank my dad for encouraging me to make it from scratch.

I just started high school and my younger siblings were still in grade school. It would be a random weekend night and while my mom was off working, my dad treated us to a night out. My dad used to make it a regular outing to take us all out to Baker's Square at least once a month. We would indulge in a sampler of appetizers and end our meal with a slice of their famous pies. But not my dad - he'd always order their plain cheesecake, sometimes topped with strawberries. It was his favorite 'American' dessert because he loved the creamy texture and how it wasn't too sugary sweet.

One day my dad asked me if I could make a cheesecake. I took his request and went to work finding a recipe I could try out. I finally found one from of those flimsy cookbook mini-magazines featuring Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. I followed the recipe exactly and bingo! It was exactly what my dad was looking for and he said it was even better than the cheesecake at Baker's Square. Ever since I learned how to make cheesecake at home, our outings to Baker's Square stopped. Now, my dad's most requested dessert is that specific cheesecake!

It's been awhile since I've made my dad a cheesecake so I hope to make Dorie's chocolate cheesecake recipe again for him. What's delicious about this recipe is that it's not overly sweet. In fact, the filling alone only uses 1/2 of sugar! The texture is smooth and silky without being overly rich. Even better is that the filling took no time at all to whip up in a food processor. I did cheat by using a store bought graham cracker crust (in the interest of time and convenience) but nonetheless, the cheesecake was a perfect way to end our dinner with friends.


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Low & Lush Chocolate Cheesecake
recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 graham cracker pie crust - homemade or store bought


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut each bar of cream cheese into quarters and toss the pieces into a food processor, along with the sugar. Process, scraping down the bowl 2 or 3 times, for a full 2 minutes. You’ll see how dramatically the cream cheese changes; it will look like white velvet at the end of its beating. Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and give the batter 4 longish pulses, the scrape down the bowl and pulse 2 more times. Pour in the chocolate and pulse and scrape a few times to blend the batter well.

Remove the bowl from the processor and rap it hard on the counter a couple of times to de-bubble the batter. Scrape the batter into your prepared graham cracker crust.

Bake the cheesecake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes if you are using a large store bought graham cracker crust or a 9-inch pan or 45 to 50 minutes if you are using a standard store bought graham cracker crust or an 8 1/2-inch pan. The top should be puffed and set, but if you tap the pan gently, the center of the cake will still be a little shaky–that’s just fine. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours or for up to 3 days. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate, if desired, before serving.