I keep telling myself that every day is one day closer to Spring and nicer weather! One day that will be true – hopefully once we get past St. Patrick’s Day the weather will settle down and stop snowing! As I write this it is snowing with a potential of two more inches! It was a busy week at work and an emotional one for Trekkies as we lost Leonard Nimoy – a talented actor and a warm individual. Every day I read wonderful tributes to Leonard including what Star Trek and Mr. Spock meant to them. Some of them had the privilege to meet Leonard and get his signature. On The Testers Edge I wrote my tribute on the influence of Star Trek and Mr. Spock on my life and career. So many people I talk to in the tech field has a similar story to mine – Star Trek started their love affair with technology. Shows like Big Bang Theory had their own tribute to him. Leonard lived a long and prosperous life while touching the lives of so many people! What a legacy he leaves behind!
For today’s posting I am continuing the dessert series! Most people love cheesecake – bring a cheesecake to a party and you are a hero! In the past I have made the quick refrigerator version that is great for the summer. However, a baked cheesecake is a different story. For Christmas my mother bought me a springform pan so it was time to finally make my first baked cheesecake! Of course much research was conducted on how to make a cheesecake, how long to bake it and how to know when it should be taken out of the oven. The cheesecake should jiggle slightly in the middle because it will firm up over night. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about under-baking and over-baking the cheesecake. Upon checking it a couple of times it seemed to jiggle to far past the center and finally it jiggle in the center and seemed like it might be ready to come out of the oven! The difficult part of a cheesecake is waiting until the next day for the taste test!
Some of the calories are reduced by only using two packages of fat-free cream cheese. Most recipes call for three packages of full-fat cream cheese. The chocolate graham crackers, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips makes this a decadent cheesecake and you do not lose any flavor by using fat-free cream cheese. In fact this is a very rich cheesecake and you may consider reducing some of the chocolate to make it less rich. It was an enjoyable cheesecake but I could only eat a small slice at a time since I don’t typically eat rich desserts! But I would make it again!
A traditional cheesecake is delicate requiring a light hand for any topping – perhaps a nice blueberry or strawberry syrup. This chocolate cheesecake is dense but you still want to use a light hand with the topping even though it is firmer than a lot of other cheesecakes. And of course you could skip the topping and it will still be delicious! This recipe is adapted from Food Network.
1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp egg white
¼ cup sugar
16 chocolate graham cracker sheets
About 3-ounces of sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp Rum
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, fat-free at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sour cream, low-fat
½ tbsp Rum
Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Combine crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form – they should be moist – if too dry add a little more egg white. Firmly press crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and let cool on a wire rack.
Toast the coconut and pecans in a frying pan on the stove top and transfer to a small bowl for later. Pulse the pecans in the food processor until coarsely chopped and transfer to a small bowl for later. Whisk together the remaining ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. (You cannot whisk the butter since it is not melted but I like to use a whisk for the other ingredients.) Simmer for about 10-minutes over low to medium heat until the mixture reduces and caramelize slightly. Periodically stir – be careful to not boil the mixture. Stir in the chopped pecans and coconut reserving some of the coconut for the topping. Set aside to cool.
Fill a roasting pan halfway with water and set on the lower oven rack – preheat oven to 350. Clean the food processor and add the cream cheese – pulse until blended. Add eggs and pulse until blended. Add dry ingredients and pulse until blended – about 2 minutes. Add and blend the sour cream and vanilla. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30-seconds intervals until melted. Add the melted chocolate to the food processor and pulse until combined.
Transfer about half of the cheesecake batter to the prepared crust smoothing with a spatula. Spoon about two-thirds of the topping evenly over the batter. Top with the remaining batter; smooth the top. Set on the middle oven rack (directly over the pan of water) and bake until set around the edge but the center still jiggle slightly, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 8 hours or overnight.
Run a thin knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove the springform ring. Microwave the remaining topping to soften, about 30 seconds (stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water to loosen, if necessary). Spread on top of the cheesecake; top with the reserved coconut.