Monday, March 17, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecakes

Cheesecake sits right up there with ice cream when it comes to foods you eat...

a) following a festive/celebratory meal
b) any time you even think of moving (house hunting sucks!)
c) because you can and you will
d) after realizing you didn't click SAVE and now it's gone forever...
e) in desperate moments with a spoon off the floor not to waste a pinch (like a certain Rachel & Chandler)

If anything can make cheese more delicious and irresistible than it already is, it's sugar. And if there's anything that can make cheesecake more delicious it would be eating it with a Chocolate Chip Cookie, because chocolate chip cookies also suffice in any instance a) through e).

We welcome chocolate ganache 365 days a year. Today is no exception.

To summarize: Chocolate Chip Cookie, Vanilla Cheesecake, Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Can we just call this "the cure"?

It is really, reaaallllly hard to ruin a cheesecake. There are few ingredients and few steps.
But, you know what? It can be done.

Know what ruins a cheesecake? Lumps! Over-baking!

Achieving that silky smooth, velvety texture involves some sequentiality and a little extra care.

Numero Uno: Beat the cheese with the sugar thouroughly, THEN beat in the eggs. I've seen it done where the cheese is beaten with eggs before the sugar is added, and this almost guarantees lumps. Sugar is abrasive and helps to break up the cheese and pulls moisture from it to create a smooth glossy mixture. Now it's ready for eggs (preferably at room temperature), which you should beat in one at a time.

Numero Dos: Do not over-beat. This is different from a regular cake where over-beating leads to toughness and dryness. In cheesecake, over-mixing will incorporate too much air and cause the cake to crack as it bakes.

Numero Tres: Low and slow is the pace for this race. Baking at a lower temperature will allow the cake to cook more evenly and prevent a rapid rise or soufflĂ©, that would otherwise cause the surface to crack. 

Number Four: Bake only until the sides are set and the dead center jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken. It will continue to set as it cools, and this guarantees that you won't end up with a dry cheesecake.

...annnnd Five: Let the cheesecake cool completely and then refrigerate for at least an hour. The cheesy filling will become dense and creamy and taste like heaven.

Are we done staring at these babies?

Not quite yet...

OK, let's bake!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecakes

Makes 12 cheesecakes


For the cookie dough base:

¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter
½ cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
2 oz/56 g finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa)


For the cheesecake filling:

1 (250 g) package of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tbsp full fat sour cream


For the ganache:

2 oz/56 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
1/3 cup 35% whipping cream
1 tsp honey

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan.

To make the cookie dough base, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl until light and fluffy. Stir through egg yolk. Sift flour, baking soda and salt over the mixture and stir until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate. Roll dough into small ¾-inch balls and press them down evenly into the base of each muffin cup. You will have more than enough dough, so roll the rest and bake into cookies! It will make enough so that you get 2 or 3 bonus cookies. Bake until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Make the filling while the bases are baking. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until smooth. Add sugar and continue beating until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg until glossy. Finally beat in sour cream on low speed just until combined.

Brush the sides of the muffin holes over the cookie bases lightly with butter. Spoon the cheesecake mixture over the cookie base, dividing evenly among muffin holes and spread it out flat. Bake until the filling is just set, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

To make the ganache, combine cream and honey in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it just barely comes to a simmer. Add chopped chocolate, let stand for 2 minutes and then stir until smooth and glossy. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before spooning it over the center of each cheesecake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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