Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake: Sugar High Friday
This week's chocolate event coincided with a birthday party on the Mornington Peninsula. And in the spirit of coincidence, I will take this moment to inform you of several blogging updates for Chocolate in Context. First, I have a revised links section (see column at right) that covers everything from local chocolate shops to trade organizations and scholarly articles. If you see any errors or have any suggestions for additional links, please email me or post a comment. Second, Chocolate in Context is now a member of the Australian Food Blog Ring (see the very bottom of this page), joining Grab Your Fork, Tomato, The Food Palate, and others. And, finally, I'm participating for the first time in Sugar High Fridays, a food blogging event in which everyone cooks or bakes something following the same sweet theme: this month's theme is dairy, and you can find out what everyone else made at SpitoonExtra.
Now for dessert. Chocolate Kahlua cheesecake is another dessert that I used to make in high school. I learned about it in a free recipe pamphlet that I had sent away for. I haven't seen that pamphlet in a long time, but mail-away promotions like those have long since been outmoded by the internet. All I had to do this time was type my desired dessert into google and I found several pages of recipes, most of them a variation of one from Recipe Source.
What follows is the recipe as I interpreted it, adapted it, and would have baked it if I had the whole thing to do over again. To covert the following temperatures and measurements, try this handy page from Leite's Culinaria.
Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake
2 cups chocolate graham crackers
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar
135g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup Kahlua
500g cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 175C.
To make crust: Crush the chocolate graham crackers in a food processor until they turn into coarse crumbs. Melt the butter in a small pan or in the microwave. Thoroughly combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Using your hands, press the mixture into a standard springform pan, starting with the edges where the bottom meets the sides; the crust does not need to reach the top of the pan, but should come part of the way up the sides. Place the pan in the freezer for ten minutes to set the crust, then bake for twenty minutes.
To make the filling: Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat, and stir in the Kahlua and cream. Stir to combine. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the cocoa and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat the mixture after each addition to thoroughly combine. Scrape down the sides with a wooden spoon, add the vanilla, and stir the mixture to ensure that all the ingredients are incorporated. Gradually add the melted chocolate mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Increase oven temperature to 200C.
Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust. Place the cake in the oven and bake for ten minutes.
Leave the cake in the oven and decrease the temperature to 135C. Bake for another 45 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool until it reaches room temperature. Refrigerate the chocolate Kahlua cheesecake for at least six hours. Un-mold the cake and serve.
As always, use a good quality couverture chocolate; anything with at least 60% cacao and without unnecessary additives fits the bill. Philadelphia cream cheese is one of those distinctive branded products (like Heinz ketchup) whose familiar tastes seem to work particularly well in recipes--I recommend using it. Mysteriously, teddy-bear-shaped chocolate cookies seem to work best in the crust (in the States I think they're called Teddy Grahams, here they're Tiny Teddies), as long as you don't mind a bit of edible-stuffed-animal carnage. The Kahlua, though it gives its name to the cake, really only serves as a minor flavoring; a lower-priced coffee liqueur could be easily substituted, as could espresso to make an alcohol-free cake.
Many recipes call for an icing or topping of some kind, but I think this rich cake is easier to prepare--and to enjoy--without excessive amounts of whipped cream or other gooey substances in the form of piped rosettes. Invest well in the chocolate you use, and then keep it simple.
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