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Saturday, January 11, 2014

chocolate cheesecake.

Breaking news. This post marks post five-oh-oh! I don't really celebrate every hundredth post but surely the halfway point of a thousand merits a few words of special attention. Pop them party streamers; blow them balloons up! Can you imagine how much I've baked by now? And I actually started baking before setting up this blog so a lot have gone undocumented. I would say that I've exploited my ovens (one broke down - I don't think you have to guess why) quite a fair bit.

It's been almost five years since the birth of this blog so I guess I churn out about slightly more than 100 posts each year. If you've been following me since the days my pictures were about as pretty as trash and my writing so horrendous you could cringe, thank you, from the within the depths of my sugar-loving soul. Really. Because I myself would flee far far away to another tab when I read my old posts and never return to the source of all that awkwardness.

It wasn't planned, but this chocolate cheesecake suits the occasion perfectly in my opinion. Something that requires a little bit more effort and thought invested to mark a marginally special day and special post.

I'm not a huge fan of cheese, and that extends to cheesecake as well. However, a slice of toblerone cheesecake a certain popular coffee chain had on promotion until recently made me relax my stance towards cheesecake - chocolate cheesecake is surprisingly good. The reason why I liked it is because the chocolate overpowered the cheese, although you can still taste enough cheese to call it a cheesecake. There's something the rich tanginess of cheese adds to chocolate - if you like chocolate cream cheese frosting, you would know what I mean.

For this recipe, the chocolate very much outshines the cheese, which suits me very well. It is also extremely rich and creamy despite the fact that I used low fat cream cheese. In fact, I may even venture that it's too rich and creamy, for me at least. The sacred rule for baking cheesecakes with perfectly smooth unblemished tops is to not overbeat the batter, which would incorporate too much air that would expand and fight its way to the top, creating those dreaded cracks and fissures. I diligently abided by this rule and as a result, I found the cheesecake a bit too dense for my liking. If I were to make it again, I would beat the batter a little longer to make the baked cheesecake a lighter and "fluffier". But hey, that's just me so if you like your cheesecakes to be fudgy and substantial, just follow the directions below as per normal.

I messed with the original recipe a tad and folded dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots into the batter to break the monotonous smooth texture. I also added a spoonful of vanilla to tone down the cream cheese flavour (reflected in the recipe below).

The decorating was, and always is, the most fun part and I swear that I was restraining myself. I could have added more toppings, but I reasoned that it wouldn't be a good idea because it would be difficult to break through the barrier of toppings when slicing the cheesecake.

I think this would be a good point to stop rambling at so you can get on with reading the recipe. Happy baking!

Chocolate Cheesecake
makes a 6 inch (taller) or 7 inch (shorter) cake
slightly adapted from here

For the crust:
6 or 7 inch round sweet tart dough, baked and cooled in the pan

For the batter:
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (low-fat is okay)
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the garnishing:
about 3/4 cup ganache, chilled until spreadable
m&ms, chocolate wafer rolls, sprinkles, basically anything you want!

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla extract until smooth. Beat in the eggs one a time, until just incorporated. Beat in the cooled chocolate until just combined.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour or until the center is just set and appears set. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake with a knife; let the cheesecake cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.

Frost the sides of the cheesecake with a thin layer of chilled ganache. Press chocolate sprinkles into the ganache. Frost the top of the cake with more ganache. Decorate the top of the cheesecake with your preferred toppings, pressing them into the ganache to prevent them from falling off.

Refrigerate cheesecake again until the ganache has firmed up, about 1 hour, before serving.

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