Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Happy New Year, everybody! Did you make a whole bunch of nifty resolutions like eating healthy foods, cutting back on sugar and losing weight? Well, I’ve got a recipe here that’s gonna break all of them at once.
Remember last year, when we tried that blueberry cheesecake? Well, I’ve been working on refining the recipe since then, and I’ve come up with what may be my best cheesecake yet. The near-universal reaction to it has been “Holy (bleep),” so I thought I’d share it with you.
Most of the elements are the same as before, so you can dive into this without fear. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature, and grab your 9-inch Springform pan. Line the bottom with a parchment circle and wrap the outside with foil.
Crunch up chocolate graham crackers until you have about 1 3/4 of a cup full. A zip bag and rolling pin are your least messy option. Stir in three tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 cup of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, and 6 tablespoons of melted butter. Pat the resulting mixture in an even layer over the bottom of your prepared pan.
Heat your oven to 325 degrees and break out your stand mixer. Beat together four 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese and 3/4 of a cup of sugar until smooth. Blend in 1 cup of sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract, 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
Add five eggs (minus shells) and beat on medium speed for about two minutes, scraping the bowl regularly. Cut the speed and toss in 1/2 cup of dried cherries and 1/2 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. Whirl it all together until just blended.
Set your prepared pan inside a larger cake pan. Pour the cheesecake batter into the Springform pan and smooth out the top if necessary. Set the whole assembly in the oven, then add water to the outer pan until it comes just shy of the top. Set the timer for 50 minutes and grab some coffee and a book.
When the timer goes off, turn on the oven light and give your stove a wiggle. Do not open the door! Did your cheesecake give a little shimmy, or did it wave back like the ocean at high tide? If it’s still wavy, give it about five more minutes and check again. When it does just a little shimmy, turn off the heat (leave the door closed) and set the timer for one hour. Have another cup of coffee.
When the hour’s up, lift out the Springform pan and peel away the foil. Let your cake cool in the pan to room temperature, then smooth a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface and stick it in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to serve, remove pan, plastic and parchment. Settle your cake on the flattest plate you have, and prepare to wow your guests.