Friday, June 4, 2010

victory and CHOCOLATE

Alice Medrich's Chocolate Cheesecake, as it is officially named in the holy book of American home cooks, The Joy of Cooking, has been the bane of my existence for six or so years. I read the recipe, and I could see that it would be good. But I made it, and it was not good. So I made it again. Bad. Again. Worse. Yet again. No improvement.

On Tuesday, I conquered Alice Medrich's Chocolate Cheesecake. I now own this recipe, in the more significant metaphorical sense, and, being generous, I share it with you. (I halved the recipe, then tweaked the proportions.)
  • Get out your 8" diameter, deep, straight-sided pan. (I used a Corningware French white circular glass baking dish, and served it in the pan, 'cause it's pretty, and I loathe springform.)
  • Put the kettle on.
  • Break 5 oz. of baking chocolate (the no-sugar stuff) into the smallest pieces you can. Seriously dark chocolate will substitute if need be. I think you could also use 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Recipe calls for 8 oz. baker's chocolate; half is 4 oz. But this is not enough chocolate.)
  • Assault one 8-oz. brick cream cheese in medium mixing bowl until creamy.
  • When kettle has boiled, measure 1/6 cup boiling water into the broken chocolate and stir until smooth-ish. Set someplace warm.
  • Mix 1/2 cup sugar into the cream cheese. If you like your cheesecake sweet, use 2/3 cup to 1 cup. (Recipe calls for 2/3; half is 1/3. Even at 1/2 cup, which I used, it's not a sweet dessert.)
  • Mix 1 and 1/2 beaten eggs; 1 tablespoon vanilla extract; and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder into the cream cheese.
  • Mix in 1 cup of sour cream.
  • Add the chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and blend as thoroughly as you can. (I had to switch from a wooden spoon to a whisk here.)
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Crust option 1: Take a dozen or two Oreos or chocolate cookies and smash them in a ziplock bag with a blunt instrument until they're small crumbs. Mix with milk until they're the consistency of wet cement. Grease your pan, and then use a flat-bottomed drinking glass to spread them along the bottom, and two inches up the sides.
  • Crust option 2: Take about 1/6 of a package of brownie mix, your extra 1/2 scrambled egg, a generous drizzle of vegetable oil, and a smaller drizzle of water, mix well, and spread them across the bottom of your pan. (I did this and it worked well.)
  • Pour the filling mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Put in the oven for 35 minutes.
  • At 35 minutes, the edges should have puffed; the middle should barely look "dry." (If not there yet, check again in five more minutes.) When this stage is reached, turn the oven off, leaving the pan inside, and prop the oven door slightly open.
  • Catch up on your blog reading for at least an hour. Then test the cheesecake with a toothpick. It need not come out clean, but should not have liquid. If it does - you have a problem. And I do not have a solution.
  • Before bed, put the cake in the microwave (not on) to finish cooling overnight.
  • The next morning, put in the refrigerator to cool entirely.
  • Serve two days after you make it.
My original problems with the cheesecake were the cooking times (it was always raw and it cracked); with the quantity halved, the prescribed time actually works. And it was never chocolate-y enough; I'm now satisfied. And, it was always too sour. Cheesecake is supposed to be aged two days, which makes it sour, and, admittedly, I don't like that traditional cheesecake pungency. But with the smidge more sugar, and more chocolate, this was perfect. A mature cheesecake sourness, but really shadowed by chocolate-y bitterness. I'm a harsh self-critic, cooking-wise, and I tell you honestly that this flavor was artistic. It was profound. It was an appropriate homage to the blessing that is chocolate. And that means something to me.

I didn't this time, but next time I will serve it with hot homemade blackberry sauce.

Also, to the gluten/processed sugar crowd, I'm not totally heartless - it doesn't have chocolate and I haven't tested it, but this recipe looked really good.


  1. Thank-you for sharing! Can't wait to try it. I love making cheesecake but can never keep them from cracking no matter what I do. Next time, I will use less batter and see what happens.

  2. YUMMM. So awesome. and your description is just classic.
    I can't believe you've tried a recipe over and over. I always just give up if it comes out crappy once.

    this is probably better than The Cheesecake Factory.

  3. I am not usually a fan of cheesecake, but you have piqued my curiosity. Thanks for posting the recipe and your comments / modifications. Hey - where are the rest of the Austria pics? Your fans are waiting! :)

  4. Sounds wonderful; thanks for sharing.

  5. Just found your blog! Sending lots of prayers your way from one infertile to another :)