The term “Death by Chocolate” is so often used for extremely chocolate desserts, it made me wonder though, can it truly happen? When it concerns dogs, the answer is yes, maybe not immediately, but eventually. Chocolate contains substances known as methylxanthines, specifically caffeine and theobromine; canines cannot metabolize theobromine, so builds up and becomes toxic to their systems. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher amount of theobromine present. For example: 8 ounces of milk chocolate may sicken a 50 pound dog, but it can be poisoned by as little as 1 ounce of Baker's chocolate!
Alright, we know for certain that chocolate can cause death in dogs, but humans are ok with major consumption of chocolate, right? Hey, don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger; yes, it can harm humans also. First off, eating a severe poundage of anything can almost, or surely, kill us; secondly, diabetics can’t metabolize the high sugar content; thirdly, if a person has an allergy to theobromine, say hello to the Grim Reaper. Dang, I’m so depressed right now; I love chocolate! Moral is know your health and eat in moderation; don’t worry, the rest of the Hersey bar will be there…where you hid it.
Back to dessert, I have admitted that I'm not a big fan of baking; don't enjoy doing the precise measurements required for a perfectly baked item. However, that doesn't mean I shy away from it altogether, and find ways of experimenting. One cake I love to play with is cheesecake; using different types of cookies for a crust; pureed fresh, or chopped dried, fruits; candy pieces; various flavor combinations. It's almost as fun as making cookies, and there are hundreds of variations of those!
Time to follow me on a trail of chocolate, cheesecake, and dying from too much Chocolate Cheesecake; a completely decadent, all chocolate cheesecake: chocolate crust, chocolate cheesecake layer, topped with a chocolate ganache. My version is not overly sweet, but the chocolate is so rich and flavorful, the extra sugar is not missed. Folks have tried this cheesecake, loved it, but had to admit that eating too much would definitely be too much. A normal slice of cheesecake has about a two inch width; but a one inch width slice will be about as much as you can eat of this cake. Afterwards you will definitely want a nap as you experience blissful joy; eat any more of it and death by chocolate might just occur as you lapse into a coma of complete nirvana.
For the Crust:
2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
5 Tbsp. melted butter
For the Cake:
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) package mascarpone cheese (use regular cream cheese if not available)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 (4 oz.) package Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, melted and cooled
For the Ganache:
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 (4 oz.) package Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, broken into pieces
Spray a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray; place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom, inside the pan; spray also with baking spray.
Mix the crushed graham crackers with the melted butter; press onto bottom and halfway up sides of pan. Place in refrigerator for a half hour to set. Preheat oven to 325F.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract on high until well blended. Add the eggs and melted chocolate; on low speed mix until well blended.
(Note: melt and cool the chocolate just before adding to the cream cheese mixture and eggs; if the chocolate is too hot, it will cause the eggs to scramble)
Take pan out of refrigerator, set on top of a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap foil up around the sides. Pour the cream cheese/chocolate mixture over the crust and smooth out with a spatula.
Place the pan inside a 3 quart baking dish, so that it sits flatly; pour cool water into the baking dish ¼ up the side of the pan. Be careful no water gets inside the aluminum foil. Place inside oven on center rack; bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Turn off heat, prop open oven door and wait for 30 minutes before removing baking dish. Set pan on counter, run a knife around the rim of the cake to loosen sides; refrigerate for 4 hours.
To make the ganache, in a small saucepan, medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Add in the chocolate and quickly begin whisking until chocolate is melted, incorporated well and has a smooth, shiny texture.
Let cool slightly; remove cake from refrigerator and pour ganache over the top, smooth out with a spatula. Return cake to refrigerator for 4 more hours or overnight; depending on when it is planned to be served.
Carefully open springform pan; use a long, wide spatula to get between pan bottom and parchment paper. Carefully lift cake onto serving dish; cut into 16 slices.
*Makes 16 servings.