I have admitted that I'm not a big fan of baking; I 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 do find ways of experimenting. One cake I love to play with is cheesecake
; using different types of cookies for a crust, pureed fruits, candy pieces, various flavor combinations. It's almost as fun as making cookies, and there are hundreds of variations of those.
Now I have also admitted that I adore chocolate, so I hope you're seeing the path I'm about to travel on. If not, well it's 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. I have had adults and children try this cake recently at a party, and everyone loved it. 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 anymore of it and death by chocolate might just occur as you lapse into a coma of complete nirvana.
Enough of the tease, lets get to the recipe.
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.
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.