Thursday, August 1, 2013

Foolproof Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake Overhead



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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.

Chocolate Cheesecake Profile

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!

Chocolate Cheesecake Closeup

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.

LoveWord

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!


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Photo Tutorial

Organic Bunny Graham Crackers
For the crust, start with 8 ounces of organic graham crackers (I like bunny grahams).

Bunny Grahams in Food Processor
Crush the graham crackers into crumbs. I use my food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Graham Cracker Crumbs
If you don't have a food processor, you can instead use a sealed plastic bag.

Biscoff Cookies
Next you will need 15 Biscoff lotus cookies.

Biscoff Cookies in Food Processor
Crush the cookies into crumbs. Again, I use my food processor.

Biscoff Cookie Crumbs
Combine the Biscoff cookie crumbs with the graham cracker crumbs and mix to combine.

Melted Butter
Melt 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (I use the microwave).

Butter and Cookie Crumbs Combined in Food Processor
Add the melted butter to the cookie crumbs and mix to evenly coat with the butter.

Springform Pan
Fit together a 9-inch non-stick springform pan.

Buttered Crumbs Added to Springform Pan
Pour the buttered cookie crumbs into the pan.

Crumbs Pressed into Springform Pan
Evenly press out the crumbs over the the bottom and sides of the pan.

Graham Cracker and Biscoff Cookie Crust, Baked
Bake the crust for 8 minutes at 375F. Remove the crust from the oven and let cool while you prepare the cheesecake filling.

2 Dark Chocolate Bars
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.

Chopped Chocolate
Evenly chop the chocolate into small pieces.

Dark Chocolate Coated in Milk
Mix together the chocolate and milk in a microwave-safe bowl.

Melted Dark Chocolate
Heat the chocolate in the microwave on HIGH for 5 to 10 second intervals until just melted, stirring the chocolate vigorously between each interval.

Organic Cream Cheese
Next you will need 8 ounces of room-temperature brick cream cheese (I use organic).

Mascarpone Cream Cheese
To the cream cheese, add 8 ounces of room-temperature mascarpone cream cheese (I recommend Bel Gioioso as I like the flavor best).

Cream Cheese, Mascarpone and Sugar in Bowl of Stand Mixer
Add one cup of granulated sugar to the cream cheese and mascarpone.

Mascarpone and Cream Cheese Beaten with Sugar
Beat the cream cheese and mascarpone together with the sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Adding Eggs to Beaten Cream Cheese
On medium speed, add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each egg.

Chocolate Added to Cheesecake Batter
Add the melted dark chocolate.

Cheesecake Batter Mixed Until Smooth
Beat in the dark chocolate on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and evenly mixed.

Dissolved Instant Coffee
Dissolve the instant coffee granules in 1 Tablespoon of hot water.

Coffee, Salt and Vanilla Added to Cheesecake Batter
Add the coffee, salt and vanilla to the cheesecake batter.

Chocolate 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.

Chocolate Cheese Cake Ready to Bake
When the cheesecake filling is smooth and creamy, pour the filling to the prepared crust.

Chocolate Cheesecake Cooling in Open Oven
Bake the cheesecake for exactly 20 minutes at 350F, then shut off the oven (do NOT open the door) and let the cheesecake continue to bake in the closed oven for exactly 25 minutes. Open the oven door to the first opening only and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour.

Baked Chocolate Cheesecake
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.

Coconut Oil and Milk Added to Chocolate
To make the optional ganache drizzle, combine 3.5 ounces of semisweet chocolate with 1 Tablespoon of milk and 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil. I didn't have any semisweet chocolate on hand, so I used a darker chocolate with a small amount of white chocolate. However, I don't recommend this combination as the dark chocolate melts faster than the white (so you could be left with lumps). Melt the chocolate until smooth (I used the microwave method described before).

Chocolate Ganache Drizzled Over Cheesecake
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.

Chocolate Cheesecake Closeup
Serve the cheesecake well chilled for best flavor and texture.



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Foolproof Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 1 hr
     Cook Time: 1 hr 45 min

Ingredients (serves 8)
    Crust
    • 1 cup Biscoff cookie crumbs (15 Lotus cookies)
    • 1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) organic graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
    Filling
    • 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
    Ganache
    • 3.5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60% cocoa)
    • 1 Tablespoon refined coconut oil
    • 1 Tablespoon milk
    Instructions
    For the Crust
    1. Preheat the oven to 375℉
    2. 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
    3. 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
    For the Cheesecake Filling
    1. Reduce the oven temperature to 350℉
    2. 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
    3. 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
    4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly between each egg; add the melted chocolate and beat thoroughly
    5. 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
    6. 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
    7. 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
    8. Serve the cheesecake chilled with a drizzle of chocolate ganache if desired
    For the Ganache
    1. 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
    2. 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.

      2 Dark Chocolate Bars
       
    • 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.

      Melted Dark Chocolate
       
    • 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.

      Biscoff Cookie Crumbs
       
    • 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.

      Baked Chocolate Cheesecake
       
    • 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.

      Chocolate Ganache Drizzled Over Cheesecake



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    21 comments:

    1. Bintu @ Recipes From A PantryAugust 1, 2013 at 5:45 AM

      I need to come visit you the next time you make this. Yum, Yum, Yum.

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    2. I'd be happy to have you over! So glad you enjoyed, Bintu!

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    3. Oh Mark, I just love this post! I can't believe you had the patience and tenacity to carefully compose such deliciousness. It is all yours and I personally think it is simply glorious to look at. I can just imagine the taste:)


      Thank you so much for sharing...Happy day after National Cheesecake Day, lol...

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    4. Thanks for the kind words, Louise - I do love this cheesecake, mostly because I can depend on it! It's taken away my fear of cheesecake disasters and that's what's important for me... And I didn't even realize yesterday was going to be National Cheesecake Day when I planned this post... Ooops ;)

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    5. I should use that positive attitude of yours when it comes to yeast. I have a terrible case of yeastophobia and there are just so many breads I would love to bake.

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    6. Jody_thehobbyroomdiariesAugust 1, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      I feel like a cheesy Smuckers commercial saying this, but with ingredients like those, you know it's good! Those bunny crackers are the best and Twilight Delight is the BEST, along with the mascarpone and Biscoff, my mouth is watering. Yum!

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    7. kellie@foodtoglowAugust 1, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      Wow. Just wow. Javelin is one lucky boy, that's all I have to say.

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    8. I actually love working with yeast! It's such a living thing and reacts in so many different ways depending on technique and device and timing and ingredients. I'm by not means well-versed, but I really enjoy working with breads (although there are so many I have yet to try)...

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    9. I do love the bunny grahams! They're adorable and the ingredient list doesn't make me cringe! I feel a little like a cheat using Biscoff (from a package!) but I can't imagine asking my readers to first bake their own cookies and then make the cheesecake! Although I'm sure that would be delicious... I'm so glad you enjoyed, Jody, and happy to be sharing!

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    10. You're always so kind, Kellie - I'm so glad I could elicit a wow from YOU :)

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    11. How can something that has had 2 years of love poured into it not be utterly delicious?!? What a gorgeous cheesecake Mark and just knowing that you had the patience and determination to create this beauty makes it quite special. Pinning this baby! BTW - love the dialog! :)

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    12. I'm just happy the cheesecake recipe is finally complete and reliable. At first I felt like I'd never end up with a recipe I could trust. Every time I'd bake, there'd be a new problem :/ I'm so glad you enjoyed (both the cheesecake and dialog) and thanks for sharing!

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    13. As long as a fictional conversation is accurate as to tone and probability that it could have happened, it's real enough for me! Great cheesecake - super excellent instructions. This looks terrific, and looks like two years of your life well spent. Congrats. And thanks.

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    14. lol the dialog is true in tone and probability :) So glad you enjoyed the cheesecake and it's a relief to finally have this recipe complete!

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    15. Jess @ FloptimismAugust 3, 2013 at 7:57 PM

      I recently mastered a bread recipe that I had been working on for 2 years and it was such a satisfying feeling, but even more-so because it meant that I could finally share it on my blog. I love this post - and the recipe - and the pictures. I'll definitely be bookmarking this for later!

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    16. I have an allergic reaction to yeast, Mark. For some reason I just don't feel comfortable handling baked goods when my hands react so badly. I've tried gloves but that doesn't seem to work either. It's been years since I've tried again.

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    17. Thanks so much for the kind words, Jess... I love working on bread recipes myself - there's something so satisfying about working dough and learning the precise behavior of a recipe. I'm so glad you were able to master the bread and share - the best part at least for me!

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    18. Jess @ FloptimismAugust 4, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      Agreed!

      ReplyDelete
    19. I also wanted to let you know that I featured these cheesecake on Floptimism's Weekend Wrap-Up! Thanks again for a great recipe/post; I've included the link to the wrap-up in case you're interested. Enjoy your weekend!

      http://floptimism.blogspot.com/2013/08/weekend-wrap-up.html

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    20. I will vouch for the taste- it was incredible! (though I am starting to wonder if I am your worst enemy since you gave me cheesecake! HA!)

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    21. I'm so glad you enjoyed, Kristen - and you're definitely not an enemy! Thank you for the kind words and I was happy I could share...

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