Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I am a picky cheesecake eater.
I prefer baked German cheesecake made with a fresh cheese called quark. I have never liked a New York style cheesecake, with a graham cracker crust and strawberry sauce on top. (Possibly because I don’t believe in graham cracker crusts and am allergic to strawberries.)
But it’s not just the crust and strawberry sauce that are the problem with a New York style cheesecake. It’s the way the white innards are too whipped and bland – a good cheesecake shouldn’t need a sickly sweet sauce on top. It should stand up on its own.
My mother’s chocolate cheesecake does.
It has a simple almond crust. (And by simple, I mean: just almonds.) She drizzles a bit of chocolate on top for looks, but it doesn’t need that extra chocolate. This last time she also sprinkled more almonds on top, just because she had extra.
It has a lovely chocolate-y tang. It’s firm but not dense. And the almonds – which soften slightly below the cake – provide the perfect foil of nutty crunch.
It’s rich, so you can feed a lot of people with this cake or even – sacrilege! – freeze extra pieces for later. My mother loves freezing things. This cake actually works after she freezes it, unlike other experiments I have tasted that do not thaw as well.
makes 10 to 12 slices
1/3 c. almonds, chopped and toasted
1. lbs (500 g.) cream cheese (not low-fat)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. cold water
1 envelope (1/2 oz. or 7 g.) unflavoured gelatin
1 c. whipping cream, whipped
1/4 c. strong coffee
Grease an 8 or 9 inch (20 to 23 cm) springform pan and cover the bottom with parchment paper.
Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the covered bottom. (This will be the crust, so to speak.)
Beat the cream cheese at the lowest speed until it’s smooth. Blend in the melted chocolate and sugar and mix well.
Take out a small saucepan, but do not heat it up. Pour the cold water in. Sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let it stand 5 minutes to soften.
Once the 5 minutes have passed, stir over low heat until the gelatin is dissolved.
Stir the warm gelatin mixture into the cheese mixture.
Fold the whipped cream in. Fold the strong coffee in. Pour into prepared pan.
Chill at least 3 hours. Drizzle with melted chocolate and possibly extra almonds.
Leftover cake may be frozen. Separate the pieces with parchment paper or wax paper to freeze. A piece will thaw out in less than an hour at room temperature.