My springform pan went on walkabout when I moved last fall. I was in denial about this for a long time, but I finally surrendered and bought a new springform, and therefore, the season of cheesecake has begun! Chocolate cheesecake, to be specific. Actually, chocolate caramel cheesecake. I know.
Once you’ve gotten through the caramel-making step (of which it turns out to be utterly impossible to take a picture, because of the need to give not-burning-the-caramel your full attention), this recipe is dead simple. There’s not even a water bath, just chocolate caramel goodness.
By the way, a word about springform pans: they come in two types. Both have a groove where the bottom and the part with the latch connect. In one type, this groove runs around the bottom of the latch part. It’s easier to remove the outside with this type, but trickier to assemble, and, if you’re me, more likely to leak. In the other type, the groove is in the bottom, like so:
I find these easier to manage, despite the fact that you have to remove the outside by lifting it. For this recipe, a nine- or ten-inch springform should work.
Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 c. (~10 oz.) chocolate wafers
10 T. butter
1 2/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I often use Ghiradelli chips to avoid chopping; if you do too, it’s about 1 1/3 c.)
1/2 c. sour cream
3 c. cream cheese (that’s 3 8-oz. packages)
1 t. vanilla
Crush the cookies. You can do this by whirring them in the food processor, or you can put them in a big plastic bag and beat them up with a rolling pin. Get the crumbs as uniform in size as you can.
Melt the butter in a large, microwave-proof bowl and then add the cookie crumbs, 2/3 c. sugar, and the pinch of salt. Mix to combine.
Assemble your springform and grease it. Then press the cookie crust into the bottom. You can do this by dumping the mixture in the middle and patting it down, then pressing starting in the center out towards the edges until it climbs up them. Aim for a crust as thin as you can manage on the bottom (but without holes!) and sides at least three inches tall. (If you’re thinking “it doesn’t look three inches tall in the photo,” you’re right. That’s because I am a smarty pants and forgot to double the crust recipe and could only use half the filling. We shall not discuss what I did with the other half.) You can leave the crust on the counter or put it in the fridge while you make the filling.
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Put the remaining cup of sugar into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Make sure it’s completely dry when you start! Turn a burner to medium-low and cook the sugar, stirring gently with a silicone spatula, until it melts. Then stop stirring — that part is important — and keep cooking, swirling the pan to mix, until it caramelizes, turning a deep golden brown.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream, watching out for the steam and bubbling. The caramel will harden. Then return to the heat and cook until the caramel dissolves to liquid again. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate with a fork or whisk, mixing until smooth. Then add the sour cream.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese (which you should soften first, either by leaving it out or using the microwave) with an electric or stand mixer until it’s fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the chocolate/caramel/sour cream mixture. Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla. Make sure to scrape down the bowl!
If you’re the kind of person who is prone to getting cheesecake all over your oven (read: me), you want to do one of two things at this stage: either put the springform with the crust on a baking sheet or tightly wrap the bottom of the pan, where the two pieces join, in aluminium foil. Then pour the filling in and bake for about 55 minutes. It should be set about halfway from the edges to the center, leaving the center slightly wiggly when you tap the edge of the pan.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on the counter, then chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours — and ideally all day or overnight — before removing the outside of the pan (run a butter knife around the outside of the crust to help) and slicing. Serve chilled or at room temperature as you prefer. Keeps about a week, covered and chilled.