You gotta love birthdays around here. They may not be very good for our waistlines, but they sure are tasty! Our lovely young Peyton just turned 15, and as is our custom when one of us tacks on another year, we (oui) kitchen slaves craft a meal and cake of choice for the lucky celebrant. For her birthday meal Peyton chose an Asian theme with a Ming Tsai crab maki roll, and a Wagamama chicken gyoza, and for dessert, this insanely good chocolate cheesecake.
As I suspected, there is a real art to making sushi rolls, and I'm afraid I've a bit to learn regarding the optimum rice to seafood ratio before I'll consider myself competent in the craft. The crab salad at the center of the rolls was delicious, but I used WAY TOO MUCH rice in the filling, not only making the rolls a real mouthful, but also overwhelming the flavors of the delicate crab. The gyoza (fried, then steamed dumplings) on the other had were an unqualified success first time out the gate, and is a dish I'll be sure to share the next time we crank some out in the kitchen. We had some of the tasty chicken – cabbage gyoza filling left over so we froze it to have on-hand for the next time the urge to make them strikes us, which will probably be only hours from now……stay tuned.
As lovely as our Asian inspired meal was, the real star of the day (as it should be for any birthday meal) was the birthday cake itself. Never one to stand too firmly on tradition, Peyton once again chose a cheesecake for her treat as opposed to a more common frosted layer cake. Last year we made this cheesecake for her special day and it was awesome, but this time around she tasked me with finding a really good chocolate cheesecake for her to snarf. Being somewhat of a purest regarding cheesecakes I'd never had a chocolate one before, but if I'm being honest here, now that I've tasted the dark side I may never go back to a plain old cheesecake again.
If you are looking for a bad-ass chocolate dessert, "the kind you don't take home to mother", then this triple chocolate super-freak is for you. I found the recipe in an old Bon Appétit magazine, and knew right away that it was what the doctor ordered. From the chocolate cookie crust, to the cream cheese filling saturated with 70% bittersweet love, to the over-the-top addition of a layer of ganache to pretty up the top, this is a chocoholics wet dream fantasy.
While all cheesecakes are rich (I mean, they're made almost exclusively of cream cheese, eggs and sugar….hello?), the addition of such a high dose of bittersweet to this one makes it as dense and dark as midnight. A little word of advice, don't cut yourself a big wedge of this monster, it will kill you…..a little sliver will do. You could easily feed 16 people with this, and no, I'm not kidding. It is unbelievably delicious but rich as sin, take heed.
Cheers – Steve
Triple Chocolate Cheesecake
- 9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (we used Chocolate Teddy Grahams)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 10 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped (we used Callebaut 70%)
- 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (we used Vahlrona)
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 6 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped (we used Callebaut 70%)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
for the crust:
- Heat the oven to 350℉. Butter a 9" diameter springform pan with 3" sides. Blend cookies in a processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto the bottom (not sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until just set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.
for the filling:
- Stir chopped chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust and smooth top. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the sides of the cake to loosen. When cooled to room temperature, cover and chill overnight.
for the topping:
- Stir cream, chocolate and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool until the ganache is fairly thick but still pourable. Pour over the center of the cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.