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Fear Conquered: Chocolate Cheesecake
The following conversation never really happened. I'm shamelessly fictionalizing this portion of the post. Because dialog is so much more interesting that me just writing a bunch of long paragraphs. But to be fair, this conversation could have happened. And if it had, it would have gone something like this:
"Try this," I say to Boyfriend Javelin. "Close your eyes."
He frowns at me suspiciously. "Why?" he asks.
"I want to try something," I say. "I'm not going to do anything to you."
Boyfriend Javelin doesn't look convinced. "If you're not going to do anything," he says, "then why do I need to close my eyes?"
"Just do it, ok?" I plead. "It'll just take a minute."
Still frowning and backing away from me a little, he closes his eyes. "Now what?" he asks.
"So think of an enemy," I say. "Or someone who's done something really bad to you."
"Okaaaaaay," he says, the annoyance obvious in his voice. Eyes still closed, he tilts his head to one side. "Now what?"
"Think of something you really love that you don't really need but you've poured your heart into."
He lets out a really long sigh. "I don't know," he says. "What kind of thing?"
"Just think of something," I persist, trying not to let frustration into my voice. "Say like your iPhone or the TV."
"I don't pour my heart into the TV," Boyfriend Javelin says, keeping his eyes scrunched shut. "But whatever. Now what?"
"Are you still picturing your enemy?" I ask.
"Well now I am," he says, sounding even more frustrated. "Am I supposed to think about the special thing or this person?"
I sigh. "Think about them both," I say. "Are you thinking about them both?"
"Sure." Which means he's humoring me. Which means this might not work. But I keep going because now that I've gone this far…
"Imagine giving your enemy the really special thing you really love. Imagine it's for real and that you want to do it," I say.
Boyfriend Javelin's eyes snap open. "What is the point of all this?" he asks.
"The point is to be able to do it," I say. "Could you do it?"
"Um, I COULD do anything," he says. "But why would I?"
"I don't know," I say. "There isn't a good reason. But that's the point."
"What point?" He's glaring, mostly annoyed at the colossal waste of time over something so trivial.
"That it's not really yours anyway," I say, sounding very much like a do-gooder. "It's all meant for loving everyone else. Especially the people you can't stand."
"Just because I love my enemy, it doesn't mean I have to give them something," Boyfriend Javelin says pointedly. "If I have an extra car, do I just give it to someone because I love them?"
"Why not?" I counter.
Take cheesecake. Moist, rich, homemade, chocolatey cheesecake. Cheesecake that is precious to me. Why wouldn't I want give this to my worst enemy?
I started working on this recipe two years ago in the summer of 2011. Early versions were dreadful tragedies of wasted chocolate and cream cheese. I gave up for a while, learned some basic cheesecake lessons from my Tuesday Tutor with Carla from Chocolate Moosey and finally started working on this recipe again in January.
And now, two years after my first epic failure, I'm here with this amazing chocolate cheesecake. The technique is foolproof. The flavor and texture is outstanding. The crust is perfection. No water bath. No wrapping the pan in aluminum foil. No cracking, cratering or caving. Just creamy, rich, chocolatey heaven. And it's my recipe, my creation, my years of work. Mine.
Mine. The word sounds so possessive. It makes me feel protective. Like I need to guard my cheesecake. I need to keep thieves from stealing it, people from copying it, unscrupulous enemies from claiming it as their own. It's MY intellectual property. It's MY technique. It's MY copyright protected content. Mine!
Yet it's not. Not really anyway. There is nothing I can create that I can take with me from this world. I didn't bring anything into the world when I arrived and I can't take anything with me when I leave. And actually that's a huge relief to me - I don't have to defend property or possessions or things. I don't have to hoard, hoard, hoard for myself. Instead, I get to give, give, give. In fact, everything I own (this cheesecake recipe included), isn't meant for me to defend and hoard. It's a gift meant for giving. For showing love to others.
What do I care about amassing recipes to call mine? It's meaningless. What do I care about obsessing over intellectual property that's mine? That's also meaningless. Or what about defending what I claim I'm entitled to? Also meaningless. How does amassing or defending what's mine help me to love?
So if someone wants to take something from me, then take it! I'm happy to give it away. Scape this page, reuse the photos, claim the recipe. I'm serious! I would rather give away - especially to enemies - the very best I have to offer rather than hoard it for myself. Take everything - anything - and I will be thankful. Because now I won't be tempted to delude myself into believing it's mine to defend, mine to keep. I am not made for things - I made for love.
I'm not advocating handing blogs over to plagiarists. I'm not advocating turning a blind eye to theft. I'm not advocating giving away everything to your own detriment. I should be responsible and be a good neighbor - I should provide for myself and help stop wrongs. Yet when it comes to what's mine, I would rather be wronged than obsess what is NOT mine to keep anyway!
So if you want to claim this delicious, chocolatey cheesecake two years in the making as yours - then it is yours! And I'm grateful to have the opportunity to not claim it as mine.
Special thanks to +Carla Cardello for helping me conquer my fear of making a perfect cheesecake every time. After success with her amazing Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake, I found new courage to try again - and succeeded at last!
STORY | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
|For the crust, start with 8 ounces of organic graham crackers (I like bunny grahams).|
|Crush the graham crackers into crumbs. I use my food processor fitted with the steel blade.|
|If you don't have a food processor, you can instead use a sealed plastic bag.|
|Next you will need 15 Biscoff lotus cookies.|
|Crush the cookies into crumbs. Again, I use my food processor.|
|Combine the Biscoff cookie crumbs with the graham cracker crumbs and mix to combine.|
|Melt 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (I use the microwave).|
|Add the melted butter to the cookie crumbs and mix to evenly coat with the butter.|
|Fit together a 9-inch non-stick springform pan.|
|Pour the buttered cookie crumbs into the pan.|
|Evenly press out the crumbs over the the bottom and sides of the pan.|
|Bake the crust for 8 minutes at 375F. Remove the crust from the oven and let cool while you prepare the cheesecake filling.|
|For the cheesecake filling, start with 7 ounces of good dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content (but I wouldn't exceed 75%). I use two bars of Ghirardelli chocolate.|
|Evenly chop the chocolate into small pieces.|
|Mix together the chocolate and milk in a microwave-safe bowl.|
|Heat the chocolate in the microwave on HIGH for 5 to 10 second intervals until just melted, stirring the chocolate vigorously between each interval.|
|Next you will need 8 ounces of room-temperature brick cream cheese (I use organic).|
|To the cream cheese, add 8 ounces of room-temperature mascarpone cream cheese (I recommend Bel Gioioso as I like the flavor best).|
|Add one cup of granulated sugar to the cream cheese and mascarpone.|
|Beat the cream cheese and mascarpone together with the sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.|
|On medium speed, add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each egg.|
|Add the melted dark chocolate.|
|Beat in the dark chocolate on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and evenly mixed.|
|Dissolve the instant coffee granules in 1 Tablespoon of hot water.|
|Add the coffee, salt and vanilla to the cheesecake batter.|
|Beat everything together on medium-low speed until well mixed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and beat again to ensure there are no lumps.|
|When the cheesecake filling is smooth and creamy, pour the filling to the prepared crust.|
|Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Cover the cooled cheesecake with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (best if overnight) before serving.|
|Drizzle the chocolate ganache over the chilled cheesecake and optionally re-chill before serving. Because of the chocolate solids and coconut oil, the ganache will harden when chilled.|
|Serve the cheesecake well chilled for best flavor and texture.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Foolproof Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 1 hr 45 min
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 1 cup Biscoff cookie crumbs (15 Lotus cookies)
- 1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) organic graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (70% cocoa)
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 8 ounces brick cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3.5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60% cocoa)
- 1 Tablespoon refined coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon milk
InstructionsFor the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 375℉
- Add the Biscoff cookie and graham cracker crumbs to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to combine; add the melted butter and process with the crumbs until the butter is evenly distributed
- Pour the buttered crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan and evenly press out the crust over bottom and sides of the pan; bake the crust at 375℉ for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool while preparing the cheesecake filling
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350℉
- Combine the dark chocolate and milk in a microwave-safe bowl and heat the chocolate in the microwave on HIGH for 5-10 second intervals until just melted, stirring vigorously between each interval; set melted chocolate aside
- Add the cream cheese, mascarpone and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat together on medium speed for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly between each egg; add the melted chocolate and beat thoroughly
- Dissolve the instant coffee granules in 1 Tablespoon of hot water; add the salt, vanilla and dissolved coffee to the cheesecake filling and beat on medium speed until well combined; scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and beat again to ensure there are no lumps
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared crust; bake the cheesecake at 350℉ for 20 minutes, then shut off the oven (do not open the oven door) and let the cheesecake continue to bake in the closed oven for 25 minutes
- Open the oven door to the first opening and let cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour; remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool to room temperature, then cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
- Serve the cheesecake chilled with a drizzle of chocolate ganache if desired
- Combine the semi-sweet chocolate, coconut oil and milk in a microwave-safe bowl and heat the chocolate in the microwave on HIGH for 5-10 second intervals until just melted, stirring vigorously between each interval
- Drizzle the ganache over the chilled cheesecake or serve as a sauce on the side if desired
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Hungry for Tips?
- Chocolate: The better the chocolate, the better the final cheesecake. So if you have some delicious imported dark chocolate from Belgium, go with that. But if you're on a budget, choose your favorite dark chocolate available locally. I like Ghirardelli so that's what I use.
- Microwave: If you're not a fan of the microwave (or if you don't own one), you can instead melt the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl over barely simmering water. Once the bowl warms, the chocolate will take about 5 minutes to melt. You will need to frequently stir the chocolate to avoid hotspots. I prefer the microwave method because it's faster with less mess.
- Cookie Crust: I've tried making this crust using just graham crackers - it was too bland. Then I tried this crust using just Biscoff cookies - it was too sweet and the spices overpowered the chocolate. So now I use a combination of Biscoff cookies and graham crackers. If you have a food processor, it's easy to grind the cookies and crackers into crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, you can crush the cookies in a sealed plastic bag.
- Water Bath: There is no water bath! Trust me - you don't need the water bath if you follow the baking instructions precisely. The cheesecake doesn't crack, it doesn't crater, it doesn't collapse. But you MUST follow the baking instructions - don't rush things, don't cheat. The key to preventing cracks is a gentle and gradual baking and cooling of the cheesecake - thus the multiple stages of differing heat.
- Ganache: During the two years I tested this recipe, I almost never made a ganache drizzle. Because this cheesecake is delicious without the ganache. So if you're not in a fussy mood, skip the ganache entirely and save yourself the extra work. If you're concerned about presentation, the ganache take about 5 minutes to make.
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