Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mint Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

I've wanted to make this cheesecake for awhile now. Cheesecakes are nice, uncomplicated things to make. Really all your real worries are how done is done? and why did my cheesecake crack?

I got the Cook's Illustrated "All-Time Best Recipes" magazine, and for each entry they explore what potentially goes wrong with a recipe, and then how they made it ULTIMATE pie crust, french chicken in a pot, New York Style Cheesecake or what have you.

In this recipe, they explored crust options, sour cream vs heavy cream, number of eggs and baking times and temps and this is what they came up with for the perfect cheesecake...

...which, by the way, takes 2.5 pounds of cream cheese that looks like this on a plate:

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 cup (4 oz) graham cracker crumbs (8 whole crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed in a food processor til fine)*
1 T sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan.

*the recipe also says you can subsitute chocolate wafers for graham crackers. I used chocolate teddi grahams in a mad teddi graham massacre.

Cheesecake filling:

2.5 pounds cream cheese (which is 5 of the 8 oz packages you'll most likely buy at the store), cut into rough 1 in pieces and left at room temp for 30-45 min
1/8 t salt
1.5 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 t juice from 1 lemon
2 t vanilla extract
1 large egg yolks plus 6 large whole eggs

* I also added about 2 t peppermint extract and some green food coloring


1. For the Crust:
Oven rack to lower-middle position and 325 degrees. Combine cracker crumbs and sugar, slowly at 5 T melted butter and combine til evenly moistened. Brush bottom and sides of a 9 in springform pan with most of the remaining butter. Empty crumbs into pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges, about 13 minutes. Let cool and go on to make the filling.

2. For the Filling:
Increase oven temp to 500. With a mixer, beat cream cheese at med-low speed to break up and soften; about 1 min. Scrape beater and bottom, add salt and sugar slowly, scraping and beating until combined. Add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and beat at low speed until combined. Scrape bowl, add yolks, combine and scrape. Add the 6 eggs, 2 at a time, scraping and beating in between additions.
3. Set springform pan on baking sheet to catch potential spills. Pour filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 min, without opening door. Reduce oven temp to 200 and bake until an instant read thermometer inserted into middle of cheesecake registers about 150 degrees, about 1.5 hours. Transfer cheesecake to wire rack and cool about 5 min, then run knife arounf edges to release from the pan. (This prevents post-cooking crackage.) Cool until barely warm, 2.5-3 hours. Refridgerate until cold, at least 3 hrs. (will keep up to 4 days.)

Recommended to stand at room temp 30 min before serving.

The recipe made a ton, so I poured excess into little ramekins that Audrey decorated for us for a wedding present (Thanks Audrey!).

When the cheesecakes had cooled for a little while, I made the chocolate ganache to pour on top.

Chocolate Ganache:

8 oz semisweet chocolate (chopped, chunks or chips)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 T butter
sugar to taste (optional)

Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream until bubbling around the edges, and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, chunk in the butter and sugar if using, and stir until combined and smooth.

Pour over cheesecake and spread or shake to make smooth. Chill.

I may have gone a tad overboard with the green food coloring, or maybe it intensifies with time, because the cheesecake at the restaurant is awfully green. Hopefully it's not off-putting.


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