I was really happy when I heard that the next “smackdown” was going to be chocolate. After much deliberation, I decided to go with one of my very favorite chocolate creations–the chocolate raspberry cheesecake. I am a cheesecake fiend and over the years, I have become the maker of some of the best cheesecakes ever. I am not bragging, simply repeating words that have been said to me after people have eaten my cheesecakes. I confess that I have become somewhat of a cheesecake snob.
As with any good dish, it all starts with the ingredients:
If you’re going to go to the effort of making a cheesecake, then by God, make one. Do not skimp on quality of ingredients. The words low-fat or low sugar should NEVER be followed by the word cheesecake! Additionally, one must never, EVER use graham crackers for a cheesecake crust. The best crust by far comes from vanilla wafers:
And yes, real butter. That brand of butter above, BTW, is some of the BEST ever (and no, I didn’t use the entire stick–just a part of it). Process the cookies into crumbs and slowly add the melted butter:
Then, just pat into the bottom of your spring-form pan. I personally do not care for crust up the sides of a cheesecake–preferring just enough on the bottom for a little support:
Once that’s ready, pop it into the fridge to chill while you prepare the batter. First, melt the chocolate and cocoa together slowly. As you can see, you don’t need a fancy double boiler:
Once the two types of chocolate are mixed, then whip up the cream cheese in your stand mixer. If you want to make a REAL cheesecake and don’t have a stand mixer, buy or borrow one. A hand-held mixer just won’t do the job. After incorporating the sugar and the chocolate, add each egg one at a time on the lowest mixer speed so as not to keep adding air to the batter:
These are locally raised, farm fresh eggs…Yum! After the batter is ready, then fold in thawed, frozen raspberries. These have also been “enhanced” with a little zing!
Make sure the berries get incorporated throughout the batter and then in the chilled springform it goes:
While that is in the oven, make the glaze with sour cream, a bit more sugar and a little bit more of the raspberry liquor:
When the first baking time is up, take out the cheesecake and let it sit for 10 minutes to rest. This is very important. The spread on the glaze and pop it back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Before glazing:
Return the cheesecake to the oven at the same temperature for 10 minutes exactly, then take it IMMEDIATELY and put it into the refrigerator overnight. Doing this quick chill sets the cake and keeps it from cracking. When you are ready to finish it for presentation, bring it out of the fridge and let it sit for about 5 minutes at room temperature, run a butter knife around the ring and remove it:
Then, garnish with perfect, fresh raspberries, shave some dark chocolate onto the top and present a work of art:
Add a little to the side of the plate, slice the cheesecake with a hot knife and have yourself a bite of sweet/tart/rich chocolaty berrylicous heaven!