Besides the Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova, I was busy on Sunday baking my first cheesecake (sorry for the not too perfect picture as it was taken in haste at my friend's party). I wanted it to be chocolately since I had recently bought a batch of Valrhona 70% Guanaja from Gourmandines. I was initially torn between trying out Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Cheesecake from Feasts (which will be featured in the future episodes on television) and Alice Medrich's Chocolate Cheesecake from her book, Bittersweet.
Eventually, I settled for Alice Medrich purely because her recipe called for less ingredients and less time in the oven. Although everything well with the cheesecake (which smelt wonderful) and I'm happy to say it didn't crack one bit, it didn't go down too well with the people at the party. Feedback from others said it was too bitter and slightly too tangy. For my tastebuds, I felt it was slightly tangier than what I would have liked in my cheesecake but the chocolate taste was just nice. It took me a while to realise my tastebuds with regards to chocolate has really changed as nowadays all I use in cooking or consume is bittersweet 70% chocolate. Looks like it's time to switch to say 64% Manjari or 40% Jivara which is what Bakerzin uses as the general public's tastebuds aren't like mine.
If you wish to try this recipe which gives a smooth cheesecake with no cracks, cut the sour cream to half as it was slightly too tangy for my taste. If you wish to use 64% to 66% chocolate, use 7 ounces of chocolate and for anything lower than 64% chocolate, use 8 ounces but increase the sugar to 2/3 cup and add one tablespoon cocoa powder with the sour cream.
For the crust
1 1/ cups chocolate wafer crumbs (I used Oreo cookies)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
For the cheesecake
1/3 cup boiling water
6 1/2 ounces bittersweet 70% chocolate, finely chopped
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
One 16 ounce container of sour cream
You will need a 9 inch springform pan
To make the crust: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Grease the cake pan.
Use a fork to blend together all the crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Press evenly over the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan. Prick the bottom of the crust with the fork. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on a rack before filling (leave the oven on)
To make the cheesecake: In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer just until smooth about 30 seconds on high speed on a heavy duty electric mixer with a flat beater. Scrape the bowl and beaters well. Turn mixer back to medium to low speed and gradually add the sugar a time. Continue to beat until smooth and creamy, then add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated and scraping the bowl and beaters before adding the next one. Add the sour cream and beat until incorporated. Pour in the warm chocolate mixture and beat on low speed until just well blended. Pour batter into the crust and place pan on cookie sheet.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is puffed and looks set about 1 1/2 inches from the sides of the pan but jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped. Remove cake from the oven. Slide the tip of paring knife carefully around the top edge of the pan to detach it from the pan, but do not remove the pan sides. Place pan on a rack and cover the pan and rack with a large inverted bowl or pot so the cake can slowly cool to room temperature.
Cover the cooled cake and chill for at least 5 hours, preferably 24, before serving. Note the flavours of the chocolate will intensify after 48 hours.