|The Accidental Chocolate Cheesecake|
Yep, that's the ticket...occurring unexpectedly by chance.
I was idly flipping through cookbooks, feeling like I wanted something, but I didn't know what. I was sort of looking for something that was a bit different - something new - and something I had the ingredients to produce. I was NOT going to the store! The day had warmed up considerably after the past few days of unseasonable untropical icy weather and I felt all cozy sitting in front of the window warmed by the sunshine. I believe the word is indolent....I really didn't want to overly exert myself by leaving the house. My mom would probably call that lazy :-) Whatever!
I stood in front of the open cabinets for a while; just taking in what was there. I stood in front of the open refrigerator like a teen-ager "looking for something to eat". I had 4 bricks of mistakenly purchased fat free cream cheese just staring at me... I really didn't mean to buy them, I was in a hurry, and I really don't like fat free cream cheese. <sigh> BUT, I thought to myself, maybe I could mix one with 1/2 brick of cream cheese that is fully fatted and make a cheese cake? Hmmm...no graham crackers. <another sigh> So, I go flop back on the couch and flip through another cookbook. (you are getting the picture I'm sure...)
My mom got me a Southern Living Christmas Cookbook for Christmas...and I had stuck it on the shelf after flipping through it thinking I'd review it again when it got closer to the next Christmas. Today I started thumbing through...thinking dips...cream cheese...more savory stuff. Then I flipped to a page with a photo of Hot Fudge Cheesecake. Now, I didn't have a lot of the ingredients (including the size pan called for) so I decided I was going to take the ingredients I did have, the pan I did have, and change things up. What drew me to this recipe besides the nice photo, was the first ingredient in the crust...crackers. Huh? Saltine crackers and walnuts (also which I did not have). But, I had whole grain crackers...and pecans...and soy nuts...
So, my recipe-creating mind started thinking (my husband would say he could smell the wood burning). Worst thing that could happen is I would use up some stuff that I didn't normally use. The best thing that could happen is it would be a new recipe with a twist...and it would be good :-)
So, tossing lethargy aside, I got busy.
THE ACCIDENTAL CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
1/4 cup roasted salted soy nuts
1/4 cup pecan halves (or use all pecans and skip the soy nuts)
1 cup crushed multi-grain saltine crackers (I used Nabisco Premium)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces semi-sweet backing chocolate (I used Baker's)
3/4 cup butter
8 ounces Fat Free Cream Cheese
4 ounces regular Cream Cheese
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
In small bowl of food processor, process soy nuts and pecans then add crackers and pulse until finely chopped. The soy nuts never got "fine" - so they added the "crunch" to the crust. Add 1/4 cup sugar and pulse until combined.
Pour crumb mixture into mixing bowl and add melted butter, mixing until fully coated.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap aluminum foil around the outside of an 8-inch spring form pan. (I do this with all cheesecakes that have a buttery crust because I have had butter in the bottom of my oven on more than one occasion) Lightly spray inside of pan with cooking spray. Press crumb mixture into bottom of pan and press just slightly up the edge. Place pan on top of baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove to a wire rack, let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
|baked crust cooling|
Combine chocolate squares and 3/4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture is melted and smooth, stirring often with whisk. Remove from heat, and let cool. Pour into measuring cup with pourable spout to finish cooling.
|butter and chocolate - nice and smooth|
Place both cream cheeses in the larger bowl of your food processor and pulse until smooth. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and pulse until incorporated - scrape down sides if necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, through shoot, with processor running. Stop and scrape down bowl. Pour cooled chocolate through shoot, with processor running. Stop and scrape down bowl and pulse a few more times.
Pour batter into cooled, prepared crust.
Bake at 300 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until almost set.
Turn oven off.
Let cheesecake cool in oven for 20 minutes.
Remove to wire rack, let cool to room temperature.
Remove sides by carefully running a thin sharp knife, dipped in warm water, around the edge of the pan. Release spring and carefully remove side. Serve cheesecake at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator. (we ate it at room temperature, unlike most cheesecakes that are chilled)
The original recipe called for a Hot Fudge Sauce. But I started thinking about an Ebony and Ivory look (the song was playing in my head) and decided on a White Chocolate sauce for the top since I happened to have some white chocolate bark from dipping cake balls and some heavy cream...viola, a white chocolate sauce. Hopefully won't harden like a cake ball coating with the added butter and cream...but will actually be thick on the top to cover a couple of unsightly bubbles that rose on my cheese cake...oops, who knows why that happened?
WHITE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
6 ounces white chocolate bark
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place heavy cream in a small heavy saucepan over low medium heat. Rough chop the white chocolate bark and add to warming heavy cream. Whisk over medium low heat until white chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Don't leave it, white chocolate burns easily. This went really fast. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter. Pour over top of cheesecake... or pour over individual slices, whichever you prefer.
Sooooo, how was it? My family says...."hmmm, not bad - has a smooth texture!" and that person (the teen) is not easily convinced to try a new item with unusual ingredients. He is now on his second serving. The hubby gave it a "7".... I think he liked it better before I told him it had crackers in the crust. His first response was "that's good!". The teen is a tough judge...he gave it a 7.5 and his dad gave it a 7. I don't know what it takes to get a high score at this house! I'll keep trying though. I give it an 8.5...really good texture - surprisingly so, considering the use of fat free cream cheese. It really improved the entire depth of flavor to have the white chocolate sauce over the top. In retrospect, I would not have poured the sauce all over the entire cheesecake...I would have served it drizzled over the individual slices. But, I didn't so it is all pooled around the bottom of the cheesecake. I like the texture of the crust...the crunch...it's different... and that's what I was looking for with this creation...so I'm happy with the end game. A good chocolate cheesecake that was a little "different".
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!