- The cheesecake was chosen by Tealady (Margaret) of Tea and Scones. Margaret is a fun and gracious baker who features lots of delicious food on her blog. Stop by to see all the fabulous things she's cooking up. The cheesecake recipe will be on her blog, or you can find it on page 243 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.
- I made a chocolate crust for the cheesecake from homemade chocolate wafer cookies. This was the brilliant idea of my baking buddy Di, of Di's Kitchen Notebook. We baked Alice Medrich's Cocoa Wafers the same day, and compared baking notes via Twitter (you can find the recipe for the Cocoa Wafers here). I used about 20 of the wafers for the crust, grinding them in two batches in my mini food processor. I made a mistake reading the sugar measurement and ended up with about 3 times too much sugar in the crust.
- Dorie promises that this cheesecake is simple to make. Although there were several steps involved in preparing the cheesecake and plenty of dirty dishes generated -- small food processor to make the cookie crumbs for the crust (pre-crushed cookies would have saved that step), large food processor for mixing the filling, bowl for melting chocolate, bowl for mixing crust, springform pan for baking the cheesecake, a pan to put under the springform pan to catch any leaks -- there is NO WATER BATH, so it is automatically easy in my book.
- Despite the fact that I rapped the food processor bowl like a fiend on my counter top, there were still bubbles in my cheesecake.
- Before baking, the filling did not taste - or look - very deeply chocolate-y.
- I baked the cheesecake for 35 minutes, which may have been over-baked. Cracks were just beginning to form on the top and the center was no longer jiggly.
- The center was lower than the outside, which had puffed. But as it cooled, the cake became perfectly level.... at least for a little while. Then followed a bizarre series of events that began with bland-tasting chicken breasts, continued with a fire in my microwave, and concluded with a 1 pound jar of honey (complete with honeycomb) falling out of a cabinet directly into my cooling cheesecake.
My brother and sister-in-law were hosting Christmas dinner this year. On Christmas Eve I informed them of the unfortunate mushed fate of the cheesecake, and told them that I'd bring a plate of assorted Christmas cookies. My brother look at me incredulously and said, "Are you kidding? I want that cheesecake!" "Who cares what it looks like?" added my sister-in-law.
The cheesecake turned out to be a big hit at the Christmas celebration. It was creamy and smooth, and the chocolate crust really boosted the chocolate quotient, because the filling was very mildly chocolate. Truth be told, I think that the chocolate wafer crust really made the dessert (luckily the extra sugar in the crust didn't ruin it, but it would be even better with a bit less sweetness.) For next time I'd definitely repeat the chocolate crust, and maybe add a bit more chocolate to the filling.
A little camouflaging holly and a high-heeled cake server really helped dress up the smushed cheesecake!
Thanks, Margaret, for making such a great baking choice for Christmas week. My extended family was very pleased with this dessert!