Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cheesy Birthday Cake (or more fondly known as TripleChocolate Cheesecake)

Last month, my friend turned sixteen. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she replied with a modest, "nothing." I remembered her saying the cover of a cookbook looked good, and it was a chocolate cheesecake. I decided that a great gift would be to make her a decadent chocolate cheesecake for her birthday. She had plans with her friends on her birthday, which gave me an opportunity to go to her house and make the cheesecake there, since her mom was fine with my plan. Her brother (who makes some interesting things) was at a friend's house, but the day after her birthday when I went to put the ganache on top and give it to her, I had Nick's assistance.

I wasn't how sure how it would turn out. Up until then, I'd never made a cheesecake. Though I think I've seen a few on Food Network, I don't know enough about cheesecakes to tell whether they are ready or not. Fortunately, I armed myself with a highly rated recipe from Epicurious, the ingredients, a springform pan (that turned out to be too large, according to Michelle, so I used hers instead), and was met with wonderful guidance and tips from Michelle.

Since the cheesecake was extremely straight-forward and simple, I had some decisions to make and a few things I didn't want to but chose to anyways. I used Ghirardelli Chocolate (which worked fine, but the cheesecake might be richer or have a different flavor with another chocolate) since that was all the store carried that was 70% cocoa. I'd had summer school that morning and didn't want to carry pounds of chocolate around to melt or weigh me down.

I also had Hershey's Cocoa on hand at home, which turned the cheese purple. It was corrected a bit when I added the melted chocolate, but still disturbed me a bit, despite my love of the color purple.

Additionally, I could not find chocolate wafers and was about to use vanilla ones (which would have ruined it, though I was also considering oreos) when I found my an adorable savior. Hail to the Teddy Graham (now if only they'd remove that partially hydrogenated oil...).
I had no trouble with the kitchen. Michelle was extremely helpful, especially since I was terrified I'd make a mess with the water bath she suggested, so she had to help me so I didn't splash water all over everything.

And I'm fairly confident that Maddy liked it.

Unfortunately, an frightening occurrence also happened that day in her family, so her parents had to leave. However, that is getting better. Her mom recently uploaded the pictures that she took while I was making the cheesecake. She figured I would want to blog the cheesecake. (Thank you!) I do.

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake
adapted from Epicurious
Note: I do not recommend using Hershey's cocoa powder. The batter didn't stay purple, but I still didn't like how it was purple for that point in time.
Also, this takes quite a bit of time (needs about 3 hours on first day and 4 hours on second day, plus the night in between) but most of it is spent in the oven, chilling, or coming to room temperature to make it tastier.

120 chocolate animal graham crackers (such as Teddy Grahams), about 2/3 of a 12 oz. box
1 Tablespoon sugar
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted

10 ounces bittersweet (70% cocoa) chocolate
32 ounces (4 8-oz packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup whipping cream
6 ounces bittersweet (70% cocoa) chocolate
1 tablespoon sugar

white chocolate, to garnish

To make crust:
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch high sides. Blend cookies in a food processor until finely ground; blend in sugar; blend in melted butter and process until it is well blended and is coming together. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake until set, about 5 minutes. Cool; but keep oven on for cheesecake.

For filling:
Melt chocolate in a metal or bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water; stirring until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool until lukewarm but still pourable. Beat (whip?) cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in a stand mixer until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling into springform pan over the crust; smooth top. Prepare a water bath in a pan large enough to hold springform pan and with sides at least two inches high. Place cheesecake in pan and pour water to go halfway up sides. Bake until center is just set and appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen; chill overnight.

The following day, make topping:
Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over center of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour.

Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to serving plate. Using a vegetable peeler, make white chocolate curls over the cheesecake. Let stand two hours at room temperature before serving.

1 comment:

Foodiemom said...

Awesome! You can cook in my kitchen any time!