This is a great recipe for bringing to a party. It is easy, you can make it ahead and it looks really pretty. I adapted it from a recipe by Abigail Johnson Dodge in Fine Cooking. The recipe calls for a 9 inch springform and all I had was a 10 inch springform so I cut down just a bit on cooking time.
For the crust:
- 1-1/2 cups very finely crushed chocolate graham crackers (I used the food processor)
- 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 Tbs. natural, unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
- 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
Make the crust: Heat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon (if using) until blended. Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended and the crumbs are evenly moist. Dump the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap, a straight-sided, flat-based coffee mug, or a tart tamper). Bake for 10 minutes and set on a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
Make the filling and bake: Mix the sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat (or in a microwave). Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, cocoa powder, and salt until very smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle frequently (and with each subsequent addition). Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth. Scrape the cooled chocolate into the bowl; beat until blended. Beat in the sour cream mixture until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended. (Don’t overbeat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.) Pour the filling over the cooled crust, spread evenly, and smooth the top. Bake at 300°F until the center barely jiggles when nudged, 50 to 60 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed, with a few little cracks around the edge. Let cool to room temperature on a rack and then refrigerate until well chilled, at least a few hours, or overnight for the best texture and flavor. (This cake freezes well, too: Put the unmolded cake in the freezer, uncovered, until the top is cold and firm, and then wrap it in two layers of plastic and one layer of foil.)
I made chocolate curls to go on top but you could drizzle with white or dark chocolate as well.
For the chocolate curls I melted about 3 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of Crisco. Melt in the microwave (about a minute) and stir until smooth. Pour onto a upside down cookie tray and spread until very thin. Put in the freezer for about 3 minute until hard. Take a metal spatula and scrape slowly until a curl forms. Keep in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to to put on top of the cake. I decorated it and then removed it from the pan when I got to the party
To serve: Unclasp the pan’s ring, remove it, and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. Run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife as needed.