A Chocolate Lover’s Cheesecake

A friend of mine from long ago was a talented caterer who specialized in chocolate desserts. Less than 5 feet tall and tipping the scales at around 90 pounds, she openly confessed to me once that she weighed herself every morning just to see how much chocolate she could eat each day. I never weigh in, but over the years, I have indulged in some type of chocolate as a daily practice. Years of teaching have taught me that plenty of others share this habit.

Imagine then my excitement at creating a dark and white chocolate cheesecake– a double-decker chocolate temptation. This dessert could not be easier to assemble. The classic crust is a combo of cookie crumbs and butter enhanced by ground pecans. A single cream cheese batter serves as the base for both the dark and white chocolate layers, while a final dusting of cocoa powder completes the production.

The cake needs an hour and a half in the oven, and several hours or overnight in the fridge so you’ll need to plan ahead. But you’ll be rewarded with an eye-catching chocolate confection. And, since the cake holds up well for several days in the fridge, you won’t need to tell anyone when you cut thin slivers for your own chocolate fix!

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely ground (See note.)
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Filling and Topping
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Ghiardelli), chopped
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons brand
Cocoa powder for dusting

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

2. For crust, place the graham cracker crumbs, ground pecans, and melted butter in the bottom of the pan. Using two forks, mix well until crumbs and nuts are coated well with the butter. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until crust is pale golden, about 8 minutes. Cool completely. Maintain oven temperature.

3. For filling, in a heatproof bowl, set over (but not touching) a saucepan of barely simmering water, stir the dark chocolate until melted. Remove the bowl from the heat. Repeat this technique using another heatproof bowl set over simmering water to melt the white chocolate. Set both melted chocolates aside.

4. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until blended and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sour cream and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Divide this mixture in half, and place in two large mixing bowls. Whisk the melted dark chocolate into one until blended and mixture is smooth. Repeat, adding the melted white chocolate along with the brandy to the other bowl.

5. Pour the dark chocolate batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Then pour the white chocolate mixture over it and smooth with a spatula.

6. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 45 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in it for 45 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

7. Run a small sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen cake; remove sides. Use a small metal spatula to smooth the sides of the cheesecake. If the sides of the white chocolate layer have darkened during baking, use a small sharp knife to gently scrape off this “skin” to reveal the white beneath. (The cake can be prepared 2 days ahead; keep covered and refrigerated.) Transfer cheesecake to a platter. Sift cocoa powder on top of the cake. Serves 12.

Note: To toast pecans, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove and cool and then grind finely in a food processor.

© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2011

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