Or its more appropriate title, How My First Cheesecake Didn’t Completely Suck.
That’s right, my first cheesecake. Never made one before, ever. I’ve eaten some cheesecake, but not a lot. A bite of cheesecake is usually plenty for me. It’s super rich and the cheesy flavor is so strong, that it just about does me in. That’s why I’ve been a huge fan of The Cheesecake Factory— there you can get cheesecakes that have so much going on that they can hardly even be called cheesecakes. That’s my kind of cheesecake.
But I figured it was time to make one for myself. To first of all, figure out how it was done. And secondly because I desperately want to love it. Thirdly, I needed to just get over it already. So I did my homework, picked a recipe from a trusted source, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.
If ever I was going to succeed in baking and loving a cheesecake, it was going to be this cheesecake studded with chunks of chewy brownie, topped with chocolate ganache, all held together by a chocolate graham cracker crust.
So what did I learn from my first cheesecake experience?
One, chocolate ganache covers up all manner of cheesecake sins like cracks and spots that browned too quickly, which is great for a beginner like me.
Two, apparently you are not supposed to put the crust up the entire sides of the pan. If you do, your cheesecake may look slightly silly.
Three, completely chilling the cheesecake before serving is a must, unless you want cheesecake soup.
And four, even with all of my mistakes and shortcomings, this cheesecake was still pretty damn good. And I’m actually really sad that it’s no longer in my fridge for me to slowly sliver away. I really think I should give cheesecake more of a chance, that I’ve brushed it off for too long. And I think I’m going to have to bake another one real soon.
Brownie Chunk Cheesecake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes one 9 inch cheesecake
For the brownies:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×19-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over the sides. Grease the foil.
Microwave chocolate and cutter in a large microwaveable bowl on high for two minutes. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Stir in sugar. Then add eggs and vanilla. Add the flour and salt, mix until combined. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with fudgy crumbs. Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan with foil handles. When cooled completely, cut into 1 inch squares.
For the crust:
2 cups finely ground chocolate graham crackers
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Stir together all of the ingredients and press into the bottom and 1 inch up sides of buttered 9 inch spring form pan. Fill right away or chill until ready.
For the cheesecake:
3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat cream cheese in stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add vanilla and sugar and mix until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
Fold the brownie chunks into the cheesecake mixture very carefully. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Place springform pan on a baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
Cool completely and top with chocolate ganache (recipe below).
For the chocolate ganache:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan until almost to a boil, or until scalded. Pour over the chocolate and let sit for five minutes. Stir until smooth.