Friday, August 13, 2010

Chocolate Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

Happy Birthday to my husband!!!  He turned 35 back in July (I am really behind on my blogging--sorry!!).  He is my chocolate lover, and I offered to make anything that he wanted for his birthday dessert (the world of chocolate was truly at his fingertips!)  He initially suggested a chocolate cake, which I kinda vetoed as "boring."  Then he suggested plain vanilla ice cream.  What??!   (I could just picture certain family members accusing me of not spoiling my husband with something delectably ooey-gooey).  I then wondered if the entire world of chocolate was a bit too overwhelming for him, since I never bake chocolate desserts in my kitchen.  So I gave him some options.  I offered up the idea of chocolate cheesecake.  Yes.  What about a mocha sauce or a caramel sauce for on top?  Yes.  Great.  We have a winner!!! 

*For the record, I think that the combination (and maybe even the amount of chocolate) could be tweaked a bit depending on your tastes.  This tasted pretty "fudgy."  **And also for the record, even if you don't care for chocolate cheesecake, the caramel sauce is to.die.for.

Chocolate Cheesecake
adapted from The Cook's Encyclopedia of Baking

6 1-ounce squares semisweet chocolate
4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 pounds (5 bricks) cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1/3 Less Fat cream cheese)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (graham crackers, vanilla waters, chocolate wafer cookies--your preference!)
6 tbl. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

For the crust, pulse the cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Add the cinnamon and pulse to mix.  Remove blade and add melted butter.  Stir with a spoon to combine.  Press evenly in the bottom of a springform pan.

Melt both chocolates in the top of a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl set over warm water.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl with a spatula as necessary.  Add the sour cream.  Stir in the melted chocolate.  Mix only until all ingredients are combined evenly.

Pour cream cheese mixture into the crust.  Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and place both in the oven on the middle rack.  To make a water bath, carefully pour water in the rimmed baking sheet until the water comes halfway up the sides of the baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour.  Let cool in the pan.  Refrigerate before serving, allowing cheesecake to chill thoroughly.  Before removing the rim, run the blade of a butter knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides of the pan.  Remove the rim and slice into individual servings.  Replace the rim and refrigerate any leftovers.

Caramel Sauce
Source:  "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz

1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp. coarse salt (I use kosher)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large, deep, heavy-duty saucepan or Dutch oven, spread the sugar in a even layer.  Cook the sugar over low to medium heat, watching it carefully.  When it begins to liquefy and darken at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to very gently stir it to encourage even cooking.

Tilt the pan and stir gently until all the sugar is melted and the caramel begins to smoke and turn a deep amber color.  Immediately remove from heat and whisk in half of the cream, which will steam and bubble up furiously.  Carefully stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then gradually whisk in the remaining cream and the salt and vanilla.  If there are bits of hardened sugar, whisk the sauce over low heat until smooth.  Serve warm.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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