Friday, January 16, 2009

Jessica's Killer Chocolate Birthday Cheesecake

I know it's a little late, but HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!

I'm going to make 2009's first post a really yummy one. My baby sister is officially an adult in Canada. She can smoke, drink, gamble, and vote legally now. I hope she doesn't do all that at once.

I usually make her birthday cakes, and this year was no different. However, she didn't want the usual cake with Happy Birthday plastered all over it. She wanted something extremely decadent and grown up to share with her friends. After going through several options with her, we decided on a chocolate cheesecake. It was up to me to make it WOW.

I hadn't made a cheesecake in over 10 years since my hubby's specialty is cheesecake (he uses the Philly Cream Cheese recipe, and calls it his own after he smothers it with fruit topping - lol). Even though D's recipe is pretty good, I knew Jess wanted something more. So I searched through all my recipes and found three that I liked. I ended up mixing these recipes and got one heck of a killer cheesecake. I thought I'd share with all of you, and hopefully you'll have the same response. Enjoy!

Jessica's Killer Chocolate Birthday Cheesecake

5 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound dark chocolate, chopped finely
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound dark chocolate, chopped finely
Fresh Clean Strawberries
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (I used pecans)
Melted white chocolate

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt butter. In medium bowl, combine graham crackers, 1/4 cup sugar, and butter. Mix well, and pour into a 9" springform pan. Press weill into pan. Bake until set about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
3. To make the ganache, place 1/2 pound of dark chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream in sauce pan. Remove from heat as soon as it starts to bubble and boil. Pour into dark chocolate and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes. Stir until ganache is smooth.
4. Reduce oven to 275 degrees F.
5. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add remaining sugar and beat until well combined (about 3 minutes).
6. Add ganache to the cheese and mix on slow speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides as needed.
7. Drizzle in eggs one at a time and mix until blended. Beat in sour cream and salt. Scrape down sides and mix until well blended.
8. Pour batter into crust and bake until the sides have set but the center appears soft (about 1 hour and 45 minutes).
9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Using a knife, run around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. When completely cooled, cover cake tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Let the cake set for at least 4 hours, preferably over night. This allows the flavors to come out.
10. Deck out the cake. I made another batch of ganache which I first dipped the strawberries in before pouring the rest on top of the cake. I mixed the chopped nuts with the mini chocolate chips and pressed the mixture onto the sides of the cake. Topped the cake with the strawberries and drizzled melted white chocolate with a fork all around.
11. Slice cake and serve. YUM YUM YUM! It gives 12 very generous portions.

* Note: this cheesecake is beautiful and delicious as is and can be served without all the "fussy" decor. It can also be made as a plain cheesecake, by leaving out the ganache in the batter and substituting it with a teaspoon of vanilla. Or made as any other cheesecake by substituting the flavoring. It's a versitile recipe!

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