Bad news, guys: I’m about to leave all of you for the next two or three weeks. I’m off to Thailand to soak up some sun (it’s winter here in Wellington) and eat some awesome food and just generally chill out. So no baking for the next wee while. Much as I love making sweet treats every week, I would be lying if I said I was going to so much as think about baking something while I was away. I take my relaxation seriously.
As such, I figured I better leave you with something pretty special. Cheesecake, in fact. Chocolatey, chocolatey cheesecake. There’s a chocolate crust, a chocolate-hazelnut middle, and a dark chocolate ganache top. It’s a bit of a project, but worth every minute. Unfortunately, I really dropped the ball on the photography here – it’s been a busy week, and the minute I had this cut up into bars I was leaving the house to go feed them to people. I’m still beating myself up about that. If I’d realized just how delicious these would turn out, I would have taken a bunch of photos and just been late to work.
I made a big 9×13 tray of these, which is what the recipe below is for. However they are super rich, so I’ve made sure all the measurements are easily divisible by two for those of you who (quite wisely) would rather make an 8×8 tray.
Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake Bars
8 ounces (226 grams) wheaten/digestive biscuits*
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
32 ounces (just over 900 grams) cream cheese, room temperature (the temperature is important! I microwaved mine for about 30-45 seconds to make sure it was soft enough.)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
450 grams bittersweet chocolate (I used 72% cocoa)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
*I used the ones pictured below, which were perfect for this – the tiny bits of dark chocolate melted right in with the butter and cocoa. However, if I’d been home in the US, I would have just used graham crackers, or maybe chocolate Teddy Grahams. You just want something that’s crunchy and sweet, but not too sweet.
**This is a definite “do as I say, not as I do” situation. I made my ganache with 450 grams of chocolate and 1 cup of cream, and it was too hard. Tasted great, but didn’t stay on the bars very well. I think the extra half-cup of cream will be perfect, but if any of you try this out let me know how it goes!
1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside.
2. Crush up the cookies / graham crackers (I highly recommend a food processor for this.) Combine the crumbs, brown sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter until evenly distributed.
3. Spread the crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Press down firmly (I used my hands, but the bottom of a measuring cup works really well here, too).
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until no lumps remain. Add the sugar, flour, and nutella and beat until fluffy and smooth. Make sure you wipe down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and again: otherwise you will end up with streaks of cream cheese in your final mixture.
5. Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing in thoroughly. Continue cleaning the sides of the bowl as you go.
6. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and spread as evenly as possible. Bake until just set in the middle, about 1 hour. (If you decide to half the recipe, this should only take about 25-35 minutes.) If you’re worried about cracks, you can put a pan of water in the oven below your cheesecake which will help. Though if you’re covering it in ganache it doesn’t really matter. Let cool completely. I even chilled mine overnight before adding the ganache.
7. Once your cheesecake has cooled, place the chocolate and cream in a double-boiler over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside until cooled, at least 15 minutes.
8. Spread the ganache over the cheesecake. Chill until set, then cut into bars. Serve cold. And in very small slices, because these are very rich!