Baked Chocolate Cheesecake, New York Style

Every once in a while you come across a recipe that’s perfect. Just bloody perfect. Well, it is when you hit the Mk IV, anyway. And my New York cheesecake was just that. Or so I thought. Sure, I’ve added a few ingredients, dropped some crystallized ginger into the biscuit base, added half a jar of marmalade in the main cheesecake mix. And yet, I figured it was pretty much spot on.

And then…

“Can you make a chocolate cheesecake?” I was asked. One quick discussion with my technical advisor (my wife, baker par excellence, and source of most of my good ideas) and yes. Yes, I think I can…

You’ll need…

  • 7oz Bourbon biscuits (or as near as you can get, better over than under), blitzed to a fine crumb
  • 3oz butter, melted

Mix those 2 together, press into the base of your 9inch (23cm) spring-sided pan and bake at 180C for 10 minutes.

Then you’ll need 2 bowls. Into 1…

  • 750g full fat cream cheese (2 x 375g pots)
  • 250g ish Marscapone (1 1/2 of the Tesco 180g pots, I can’t usually find them in Sainsburys)
  • 9oz caster sugar (see how I’m mix and matching grams and ounces? It’s the consistency that matters and this works every time)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3oz cocoa powder, sieved to remove lumps.

Mix together the cream cheese, the Marscapone, and the caster sugar. Once you’ve got a nice smooth, even mix, add in the eggs one at a time. Mix thoroughly but don’t over-beat it (that’s one of my notes from the Mk II). Finally, mix through the cocoa powder.

In the 2nd bowl…

  • 300ml soured cream
  • 40g cornflour, sieved

Mix those two together to a smooth blend. Then fold that into the main cheesecake mix.

By about now, the 10 minutes should be up and the base baked. Leave the oven on, you’ll need it in a mo.

Pour the mix into the spring-sided tin, smooth over the top. You should have something that looks like this:

One on the shelf, ready to go.

Into the oven it goes, middle shelf, bake for 45 minutes and this is where it gets techincal…

Switch off the oven, crack the door open a fraction, and leave it to cool down for a couple or 3 hours. Take it out of the oven, run a blunt knife around the inside of the tin to separate it from the metal. Take the spring-side away. Now make the ganache…

Final ingredients:

  • 150ml double cream, heated to near-boiling
  • 140g dark chocolate. Bourneville is perfect, chopped into tiny little bits.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a bowl, stir until it’s all melted together, then place the whole thing into a large tub of cold water to cool it down and thicken it up.

Once it’s cooler and thicker, pour it over the top of the chesecake, whack the whole thing in the fridge overnight to chill. This is what turns it from an excellent dish into something truly amazing. Something happens with that overnight chill that gives it a final creamy texture, really finishes the job properly. It’s amazing.

Then cut yourself a slice and enjoy the breakfast of champions.

Oh, yeah.

#RecipeShed – In search of the perfect New York Cheesecake

Mark I
Mark I

A week or so before her birthday, my wife started hankering for a baked cheesecake.  Not just a cheesecake, had to be a baked one.  So I started thinking… Who knows about cheesecake? And pudding in general…

The go-to book…

And there it is.  Page 44.  The New York Cheesecake. Roughly speaking, it goes something like this…

Ingredients:

  • 175g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 75g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 1kg full-fat soft cheese
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 40g plain flour, sifted
  • 300ml sour cream
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon

Instructions:

  1. Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed/spring-form cake tin, blitz the biscuits in a food processor (or whack with a rolling pin, your call). Melt the butter, add the crumbs and mix well.  Press the mix evenly over the base of the tin.
  2. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven (180°C for conventional, 160&degC for fan) for 10 minutes. Leave to cool on the baking sheet, keeping the oven on.
  3. To make the filling, beat the soft cheese and sugar together in a bowl, mix in the eggs. In a separate bowl, beat the flour into the sour cream and the lemon rind, then fold this mixture into the cheese/eggs using a large metal spoon.  Pour over the biscuit base in the tin.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Leave for 3-4 hours until completely cool
  4. Run a knife around the edge to separate cake from tin, transfer to serving plate. Devour.

The picture at the top of the page is the Mark I.  Followed the recipe to a T, even giving it another few minutes when it didn’t look completely set.  It was, well, alright. Pretty good for a first stab but not great.  Slightly grainy, not a lot, but definitely a tad overdone.  But it set the benchmark.

The Mark II
The Mark II

Not deterred, for the Mark I was delicious, I tried the recipe over the page – Cinnamon cheesecake, also baked.  Again, good, but not great. A solid 6/10, must do better.  So my wife and I hit the internet and did some research.  What’s the tips?  What’s the tricks…  This is what we found…

  • Don’t over-beat things.  I’d used the electric hand-blender for any mixing steps so I’d beaten in far, far too much air.
  • Especially don’t over-beat the eggs.
  • Ingredients should be at room temperature – eggs, cheese, sour cream, the lot.  Otherwise the cold forms lumps.
  • The cheesecake should wobble at the end of cooking – don’t bake until it’s completely set! (another Mark I mistake)
  • First hour’s cooling – switch off the oven and leave the door open.  Slow cooling is better and reduces (but can’t always eliminate) cracks.
  • Run the blade around the edge when it comes out of the oven, not at the end of cooling

Followed these tips and along came the Mark III…  9/10… Maybe 9.5/10. Even better the next day after it had chilled in the fridge overnight.

IMG_20130215_175340
The Mark III

The Mark IV is cooling now…