Thursday, April 4, 2013

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake and Raspberry Compote

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...

Well, sort of. It is my birthday today, but this isn't my birthday cake. This is from my mom's birthday party this year - and since the two of us have such similar taste preferences (and chronologically close birthdays), I've been living (and eating) vicariously through her for the past 10 years or so.

Both of us marked "big" birthdays this year, which means next to nothing on my end, but for her entailed the entire Italian stepfamily coming by for a grand dinner the size of our Christmas Eve feast. This is nothing overly "new" in terms of birthday dinners here - regardless of the number of candles on the cake, if it's a family birthday you can be sure to find yourself in attendance with the other 18 or so members of our mini-Mafia.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
With so many people, especially those with the voracious appetites of my stepfamily, there is a lot of food served at these gatherings. From the canapes, cocktails, bread and salad to the mandatory pasta and (of course) a meaty main and a few veggie sides, its a wonder that by the time the dishes are finally cleared by nine-ish that there is still a call for coffee and sweets. Luckily, appetites are quelled enough by then that it only takes a small "taste" of something to satisfy, and when it's a treat as rich as this cheesecake is, a tiny nibble is all you need at any rate.

While this cake is undoubtedly rich, creamy and decadent, it isn't too sweet - leaning more towards the bitter edge of cocoa and 70% chocolate coupled with the tang of cream and mascarpone cheeses as well as sour cream for body. It's still sweet enough to stand out as a dessert without need for topping or garnish, but we served a simple, bright raspberry compote in a gravy boat for optional drizzling and those who partook gave rave reviews for the flavour combination.

What's your favourite birthday cake? Is it homemade or from a bakery? Personally, I am all about the chocolate, and if it's my mom's Red Velvet all the better :-).

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
Makes 16 rich slices
Crust
1 ¾ cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 5.5 oz)
3 tbsp orange juice
3 tbsp melted butter

Filling
10 oz bittersweet chocolate (at least 70%, preferably couverture), chopped
24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9” springform pan and line the base with parchment.
  2. Mix all the crust ingredients together well.
  3. Press evenly onto the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan.
  4. Bake just until set, about 6 minutes.
  5. Set aside while preparing filling. Keep oven on.
Filling:
  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water until smooth and glossy.
  2. In a bowl, beat cheeses, sour cream, brown sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt until smooth. Blend in eggs, 1 at a time.
  3. By hand, fold in the chocolate until just blended in, trying not to incorporate air.
  4. Pour filling over crust and rap sharply on a countertop to dislodge air pockets.
  5. Smooth the top and place in a deep roasting pan.
  6. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan, about ½ way up the side of the springform.
  7. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour.
  8. Turn the oven off and cool the cheesecake inside for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and waterbath and cool 1 hour on a rack.
  9. Run a knife around the side of cake to loosen the ring, but do not remove it.
  10. Cover loosely and chill overnight before removing the ring and slicing.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 441.6
Total Fat: 34.0 g
Cholesterol: 99.5 mg
Sodium: 226.6 mg
Total Carbs: 38.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 7.7 g


Raspberry Compote
Makes about 1 1/2 cups, 12 servings 
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
3 tbsp honey
juice of ½ an orange (preferably a blood orange)
Pinch salt
2 tbsp cold water
1 tsp cornstarch
  1. Place raspberries, honey, orange juice and salt in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are mostly broken down, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth and stir into the cooking mixture.
  4. Cook until mixture thickens.
Amount Per Serving 
Calories: 33.5
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.3 mg
Total Carbs: 8.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 0.3 g