Posted by: njbrown | May 31, 2012

The Best Chocolate (Orange) Cheesecake


The Best Chocolate (Orange) Cheesecake

From time to time, I go on a search for absolutely the best recipe I can find for a special dish. Most recently, the search has been focused on chocolate cheesecake. It began when I saw that the Podleski sisters of “Eat, Shrink and Be Merry” had developed a delicious, but much less fattening chocolate cheesecake using 1 per cent cottage cheese, light sour cream, and light cream cheese. Unfortunately, in spite of their amazing track record of making healthier but delicious versions of favorite foods, when I made it, I found it too tart, and generally disappointing. I continued to search the Web, and tried a number of other recipes hoping that there would be a really good alternative to full-fat cream cheese and sour cream or heavy cream. Nothing I tested came up to my standard for a creamy, chocolaty, absolutely delicious cheesecake. Finally, I returned to my thirty-five year old recipe from Women’s Day magazine that uses real cream cheese and whipping cream. It truly is “out of this world,” as we used to say.  By making it in a 6-inch size, servings are smaller, so it is “guilt-reduced” if not low-calorie. Although this recipe uses orange zest to give a more complex flavor, instead of orange zest, you could add the liqueur of your choice – my guess is around 2 tablespoons. The options are almost infinite.

I chose to garnish with dark chocolate curls.  Feel free to use another garnish or no garnish at all. I think the cake is fabulous on its own.

Note: I have changed this recipe to use a version of the “low and slow” baking method I found a couple of years ago on-line. Rather than 4 ½ hours of baking and standing time, I have found that a total of 3 hours in the oven (one and a half with the heat on, and one and a half with the heat off) is sufficient to bake the cheesecake. When I followed the original directions to bake the cheesecake at 350 degrees for one hour, it always cracked, but “low and slow” makes a perfect cheesecake every time. It might be possible to reduce the overall time even more, but I’m not about to tamper with success.

Best Chocolate (Orange) Cheesecake

(Serves 8)

Makes one 6” cheesecake. For a 9” cheesecake, double the ingredients, with the exception of using 3 whole eggs instead of 4, and 1 ½ cup of crumbs instead of 2.

Ingredients:

Crust –

  • 1 c. chocolate wafer crumbs
  • 1 Tb. sugar
  • ¼ t. ground cinnamon
  • 2 T melted butter

Filling

  • 1 pkg (6 oz.) high-quality semisweet chocolate pieces. I prefer Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4%
  • 1 ½ packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese brought to room temperature
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ Tb. flour
  • 1 Tb. grated orange rind
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare crust: Blend crumbs, sugar and cinnamon with the softened better in a small bowl.
  3. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and partially up the side of a well-buttered 6-inch spring-form pan. (Using the bottom and sides of a drinking glass makes this easier.)
  4. Chill while preparing filling
  5. Prepare filling: Melt chocolate in a medium-size bowl over hot, not boiling water. Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat softened cream cheese. (It is important that it be thoroughly softened; otherwise, small bits of cream cheese will show in the baked cheesecake.)  Through the entire mixing process, use slow speed to avoid incorporating too much air that would create cracking.  Stop periodically to scrape down the paddle, sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
  7. Add sugar gradually and beat until smooth.
  8. Beat in eggs and egg yolk until mixture is well mixed.
  9. Blend in flour.
  10. Add melted chocolate, orange rind, vanilla and cream.
  11. Mix until well-blended. Pour into prepared pan.
  12. With small offset spatula, smooth top of cheesecake.
  13. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees immediately reducing to 250 degrees) for 90 minutes. (Place a piece of foil under pan to catch any butter that might seep through pan during baking.)
  14. Turn off oven heat, and let cake remain in oven, with door closed, 90 minutes longer.
  15. Remove cake from oven, cool in pan on wire rack until room temperature.
  16. Loosen cake around edge with metal spatula, if necessary.
  17. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  18. Serve at room temperature with garnish of your choice.
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