Back in my early days of cooking my mother sent me a chocolate cheesecake bar recipe. I made it, we loved it, I decided to be brave and see if I could master a real cheesecake. The baked kind, which was rare up North. We heard about them on tv, but we all used the Jello no-bake box mix and called it cheesecake.
I bought a springform pan and tried to figure out which recipe to use. Melding a combination of a cookbook recipe and the recipe my mother had sent, I made my first chocolate cheesecake. I was daring; I was a novice at even being a novice in the kitchen. With pure luck, that cheesecake was so good my friends and family were amazed that it had come out of my kitchen. I panicked and tried to remember how I’d achieved it, scribbling notes on a recipe card to preserve it for future use.
It’s still the same recipe I use today, even though it should be replaced for an authentic recipe that follows actually chef-y protocol and practices. I have many other cheesecake recipes but the chocolate one is still the favorite. I’ve established particular ways to un-mold cheesecake and bought myriad containers to store or transport the cakes over the years. Yet that chocolate cake is now so high on a pedestal in my house that I’m surprised it hasn’t demanded designer pumps and a handbag.
I was talking to my sister Linda today and she said it was a lot of work to read my blog! She said she’s cooked more since I started this than ever before. She said I’m exhuasting! I laughed and said wait til she sees my next blog. I knew she’d never want to try to make this cheesecake. She requests I make it for her often, and that’s good enough. It is so rich that a small slice is plenty. Which is a good thing as it will then last longer so you can enjoy it many more times. Linda’s hubby banned me from bringing it to his house ever again after eating three slices in one day. I should have warned him. Cheesecake overload.
A strong tip on this recipe is to use good milk chocolate chips. I like Ghirardelli or Guitard. They contain less paraffin wax and when melted will be smooth. The other common chocolate chip brands must be heated for a very long time to finally get all the paraffin melted and the chocolate creamy, and I have randomly had the chocolate seize up and be useless because I had to heat it so long. So don’t go cheap.
I’ve tried other crusts like ground chocolate wafer cookies and was just never happy with them. The cheesecake itself is so rich it’s nice to have the plain graham cracker crust as a contrast. Pre-baking it a bit gives it a nice toasted flavor under all the chocolate flavor. The crust is a matter of mixing the melted butter, crumbs and sugar and patting in the pan. I bake it for 10 minutes to set it up and get it a little browned.
I mix the filling with my stand mixer while the crust is baking and the chocolate is cooling. First I whip the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Then I add one egg at a time until it is all fluffy and mixed.
Next I take the cooled chocolate and add it to the cheese mixture slowly, making sure to temper it in case it is still a little warm. Once the chocolate is all in the bowl I let it mix for another minute or two. Now we’re ready to pour.
I pour the cheesecake mixture over the crust and make sure it is spread evenly in the pan. Then back into the oven for one and a half hours along with a second baking dish filled with about a quart of water. This is supposed to help prevent cracking on the cheesecake, but that does happen sometimes anyway. Sometime I get a large crack around the outside, but it settles down and is delicious anyway, if not a picture perfect cake.
I have on occasion added things to the cheesecake like brownie chunks or candy bar pieces just before putting it into the oven. They were nice but really not necessary. My P.S. has suggested whipping cream on top or caramel drizzled over it but really I have to stress: this is a very rich slice of cheesecake and stands by itself perfectly.
You can tell when the cheesecake is ready to come out of the oven by touching the center. It shouldn’t be wiggly, it should be firm. I then shut the oven off, crack the door open, and let the cake set to slowly come to room temp. It will be a lot of hours; it’s a dense cake. Like 4 or 5 hours. Then I simply cover it with foil and refrigerate. I always bake a cheesecake at least a day in advance so that it can cool in the oven and then chill for many hours. If you refrigerate it while even slightly warm it will get condensation all over the top and not be pretty.
The next day I place the cake on a pizza pan or a 9-10” plate and run a knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen. If you just unbuckle the outside ring of the springform you will get sides that cling in places and your cheesecake won’t be as pretty. Once the sides are loosened and I unbuckle the ring, the cake is setting on the springform base on the pizza pan.
Next I cover the top of the cheesecake with waxed paper and turn a plate upside down on top of it. I flip the whole works so that the cheesecake is now upside down on the waxed paper on the plate. Now you can carefully loosen the bottom of the springform pan, or even run a long knife under it, to remove it and reveal the bottom crust.
Once more I place a plate or my storage bottom upside down on top of the cake’s crust and flip it over. Now I have my cheesecake setting on a plate or storage bottom, ready to serve! Is there an easier way? I dunno. It’s my way and I’ve gotten good at flipping cheesecakes so I’ve stuck with it. You could line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper or waxed paper and the bottom will remove easier. But I have never found a way to slide a cheesecake off the bottom without it cracking and falling apart. So I’m not taking any chances. I flip. Then I store it in the refrigerator.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine
32 oz cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 tsps vanilla extract
4 large eggs
4 cups milk chocolate chips (2 bags)
1 cup evaporated milk
Melt margarine and mix with graham crumbs and 1/4 c sugar. Pat into 9″ springform pan. Bake 10 min at 350 degrees.
Melt chocolate chips in evap milk, stirring constantly. Cool.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in chocolate mixture.
Pour over crust and bake at 300 degrees until center is set (1 1/2 hours). Shut off oven, leave door open a crack and cool to room temp.