Friday, October 5, 2007

Back to Business: Cheesecake

Another dinner party, another chance to make dessert, and what better dessert to test my little guinea pigs with than another cheesecake recipe. But these guinea pigs were very happy at the end of the meal, being injected with couscous, summer rolls, Catalan sausages, and of course Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake. I’d say these guinea pigs were more than happy, they would have been floating on Cloud Nine, had they not been so weighed down with delicious food, but they were nonetheless smiling.

Anyways, I can’t take credit for most of the food, but I will say the dessert was my doing. I’m happy I’ve come out of my slump (after a less-than-perfect Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, and a would’ve-been-near-perfect Goat Cheese Orange Cheesecake had it not been subjected to ovens without temperature gauges) I needed this Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake. I admit the flavor combination is not original at all, but man there’s a reason it’s still around: it’s goooood.

I started off how I normally do, looking over other recipes, browsing through numerous foodblogs, recipe sites, etc., and now I can’t even remember where, but one of these called for cinnamon in the crust. I normally don’t believe in chocolate on chocolate, and I was hoping I could do a layer of something in between a chocolate crust and a chocolate cheesecake, like caramel, or some sort of coffee cream. But when I saw the cinnamon, I immediately liked that idea. So I mixed it up from what I had originally hoped and put a bit of cocoa in the crust for some color and cinnamon, and then freshly ground cinnamon, lots of it. Then followed a layer of chocolate and coffee combined, and finally a creamy, lighter layer flavored with Amaretto.
I should say more, but when something’s so good, filling, comforting, and rich all at once, I don’t feel like I need to go on. It was happily received with open mouths. ‘Nuff said.

Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake

200 g Maria cookies
125 g butter
a teaspoon or two of powdered cinnamon
about ¼ cup cocoa powder (mainly for flavor and a bit of color)
lots of freshly grated cinnamon

Like usual, crush up the cookies and mix with melted butter. Then throw in the cinnamon, cocoa, and grate some cinnamon, mixing again. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan. Then take a cinnamon stick and grate it (it’s ok if you get some large pieces) directly onto the pressed crust, so that you get a nice sprinkling over the crust. Then put in the oven at 170 C for about 10 minutes…be careful not to keep in to long, as it’s hard to tell when it starts to get brown because it’s already dark.

600 g cream cheese
75 g butter
100 g (at least) good dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85%)
1 Tbsp. sour cream and 1 package instant coffee (2 g or about 1 tsp.)
150 g sugar
3 eggs

Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. Put the cream cheese in a bowl with the butter and whip with a whisk until well incorporated. Then, either over a low flame on the stove or low heat in the microwave, melt the chocolate. (Now if you want it to be super chocolately, I’d say up it to 150 or 200 grams. Mine tasted pretty strongly of coffee and lightly of chocolate). Once the chocolate’s melted, whip it into the cream cheese. In a small cup, put the sour cream with the instant coffee and stir to dissolve, it might take a minute or two, but make sure it’s not grainy and keep stirring. Once everything is dissolved, add this to the cream cheese and mix well with the whisk. Add the sugar in mix again. Taste and at this point you can put in more melted chocolate or coffee, if you think it might need more of one. Finally, whisk in the three eggs until everything is smooth and well incorporated. Pour this into the prepared crust in the springform pan and bake at 180 C until a knife comes out almost clean, a little undercooked, about 35 minutes. (You don’t want it completely done because it’s nice to be super-creamy and you’ll bake it a little longer with the topping).

1 ½ - 2 c sour cream and crème fraiche combined (or one or the other, whatever’s easiest)
Amaretto to taste (I mean you can definitely taste it when you stick your finger in)
Powdered sugar (also to taste…make sure it’s sweet enough, not just sour cream)

This topping all depends on you. If you like it especially sweet, put in lots of powdered sugar. If you’re like me and like to be able to taste the liqueur, then make sure you put enough in. Taste as you go. First start with the sour cream/crème fraiche and then slowly add Amaretto and then powdered sugar until you get a nice balance between them both. I poured it onto the cake soon after taking it out of the oven, without letting it cool much, and it came out great. Spread over the top and put back in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 C. I kept thinking it wasn’t finished, but the sour cream/crème fraiche doesn’t really turn firm until it’s been cooled in the fridge for at least a few hours. So make sure not to overcook, and once it’s cooled on the counter, put it in the fridge overnight. Mmmm. Enjoy.


Steve said...

As a happy guinea pig myself, I'm looking forward to having a go at this recipe. Not as much as my wife though.(Guinea pig 2, but don't tell her I called her that...)

Steve said...

Well, I made a mini-version of it yesterday. A few changes were required due to ingredient availability but overall a great success.

I've heard good things about a vanilla/violet essence cheesecake too...