I will admit that I am not a big cheesecake fan. I find them to be too heavy, too rich, just too much most of the time. So, I never actually order them at a restaurant. They aren't my thing. However, this cheesecake could change that thought. It is light and creamy and just scrumptious. The batter is beaten at a low speed for a long-ish time, which helps get the air out and keep the creaminess in. Mmmm.
There is one thing that makes this cheesecake a bit different as far as the baking process is concerned (never mind that there is mascarpone and sour cream inside, so the ingredients themselves are a bit different). The cake is baked without a crust, and then the crust is put on AFTER it is finished cooling. Different, huh? And it works, except for one thing. Let me back up and explain. The cake is baked in your typical springform pan. It was supposed to be a 8-inch one but I had a 9-inch and it worked fine. No problem. Then you allow it to cool. Great. Then you unmold the cake by flipping it upside down onto a cutting board, so you can press cookie crumbs (or a crumb of your choice - I used Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookes - YUM) onto the bottom. Then you flip the cake back over onto a serving platter. The problem was, for me at least, that when I flipped the cake back over, a bit of the top of the cheesecake stuck to the cutting board. Now, this was not a travesty that a dallop of whipping cream could not fix while serving. No one even knew of the blemish! However, surely there is a way to ensure that the top of the cake stays solid? Anyone??
That minor problem aside, this is definitely a cake worth making. According to my good friend, this is the best cheesecake she has ever had! She described the texture as "almost mousse-like". If this sounds good to you (trust me, it really is) give this recipe a try!
Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake
adapted from Baking with Julia
Makes 12-16 servings
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pound mascarpone cheese, at room temperature (you can make your own!!)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and still very warm
1/2 cup (approx.) cookie crumbs
Center a rack in your oven and preheat to 350F. Butter the bottom, sides and rim of an 8-inch (or 9-inch) spring-form pan, that is 3-inches tall. Have a roasting pan ready that will hold the spring-form pan while baking.
Beat the cream cheese on medium-low in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until the cheese is perfectly smooth, about 4 minutes Add the sugar and continue to beat until the sugar is dissolved, about 4 more minutes. Test by rubbing a bit of the batter between your fingers to see if it is smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle as needed. Add the flour, vanilla extract and mascarpone and beat until incorporated.
Now would be a good time to put some water in a teakettle and heat it up on the stove. You'll need this later.
Add the first egg and beat for a bit. The egg will loosen up the batter and allow you to get a spatula down to the bottom of the bowl to ensure that all of the ingredients are being well mixed. Add the remaining eggs one at a time and beat until blended. Scrape down the bowl after each egg. Add the sour cream and beat until incorporated.
Remove about 1 cup of the batter and stir it into the warm chocolate. Return the batter/chocolate back into the mixing bowl and mix together with the mixer at low speed or by hand with a rubber spatula. Mix until the batter has no streaks of white. Pour/scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level with a rubber spatula.
Set the cake pan into the roasting pan, and set the roasting pan on the center rack in the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan, filling the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Do not attempt to pour the water into the roasting pan before putting the pan on the oven rack. That is a recipe for disaster! Bake for 50-60 minutes. I baked my 9-inch cake pan for 50 minutes. The cake will puff up around the edges and the top will turn dry and blistery. The cake should be set like a custard, so that when you shake the pan, the top of the cake quivers. Remove the cake pan from the roasting pan and place on a cooling rack. Remove the roasting pan and hot water and place on the stove to cool before attempting to pour the water out. You can let the cheesecake sit out overnight and un-mold in the morning, if necessary.
When you are ready to un-mold the cake, get a cutting board and a flat serving platter ready. Also have the cookie crumbs nearby. Invert the cake onto the cutting board and remove the pan. Press the crumbs to the bottom of the cake. Feel free to coat just the bottom or to add more up the sides. Now place your serving platter upside down on the crumbs and flip the cake back over. Remove the cutting board. Ta-da! Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator or at least 6 hours, up to 2 days.
Serve chilled, directly from the refrigerator. Use a long thin knife to slice and wipe the blade with warm water (and dry off) after each slice.
You can keep the cheesecake, covered, in the refrigerator for about 4 days. Or you can wrap it airtight and freeze for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.
We ate about 1/4 of the cheesecake on Valentine's Day, so when we finished eating, I texted my neighbor to see if they wanted any. They responded that they were putting their shoes on that moment and were on their way! Knock-knock, there they were! I sent them home with another quarter of the cheesecake and the remaining whipped cream and received a photo of the two of them fighting for each bite!
Yum. If you are a chocolate fan, give this cheesecake a try. Even if you are not a cheesecake fan. I promise, it is not like your typical cheesecake! Mmmmm... Maybe I should go have another piece??? Something this delicious is dangerous in my kitchen!