J and I aren’t much into Valentine’s Day, but that minor detail didn’t stop me from making a killer dinner and dessert for us the other night.
I’ve had cheesecake on my mind for a few days, so what better way to indulge my love of chocolate AND satisfy a craving for cheesecake than with this fun version? And, since it’s one of those desserts that benefits from being made ahead of time, I whipped this up on Monday evening while chatting with the posse about their V-day plans with their respective beaus.
This is everything you want in cheesecake – smooth, creamy and absolutely delicious. Although I may have displeased a certain family member by making a cheesecake without a crust, she-who-shall-not-be-named had no trouble consuming it.
Even if it’s lacking what she considers to be the best part.
A few notes: The directions call for using a one piece cheesecake pan, which is really just a deep cake pan. I ~skipped~ lining the pan with a round of parchment and regretted it the moment I tried to remove the cake. Honestly, I think a well-wrapped springform pan would work just as well. Also – while mixing the batter, stop the machine and scrape the bowl frequently, unless you want lumps in the finished product. And don’t beat the mixture on high speed – that increases the amount of air in the batter, which will make the cheesecake rise during baking, and subsequently fall and crack when it cools.
Polka Dot Cheesecake
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 lb. cream cheese
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbs. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Adjust a rack to the lowest position in the oven and preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8” x 3” one-piece cheesecake pan with a parchment round. Do not skip this step or the cake will stick. Spray the pan with non stick spray all the way up to the rim and including the inside of the rim itself. You will also need a larger pan (for hot water) to place the cake pan in while baking: The larger pan must not be deeper than the cheesecake pan. Set aside.
In the top of a small double boiler over hot water on low heat, melt the chocolate and set it aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cheese until it is completely smooth. During the beating, frequently scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. When the cheese is smooth, beat in the sugar. Stop the machine and scrape the bowl well. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla. Beat well and then add the eggs, one at a time. After adding the eggs, do not beat any more than necessary to mix.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Place one-third of the batter (2 cups) in the small bowl of the electric mixer. Add the melted chocolate and mix until smooth.
Pour the vanilla batter into the pan. Fit a large (about 16”) pastry bag with a plain #6 ( ½”) tip. Fold down a deep cuff on the outside of the bag and twist the tube end of the bag to prevent the mixture from running out. Place the chocolate mixture in the bag.
Now, work at table height, not counter height (you will have better control at table height). Place the cake pan on the table. Unfold the cuff on the pastry bag. Untwist the tube end of the bag. Place the tip of the tube in the center of the top of the cake, inserting it ¼” to ½” into the cake. Squeeze out enough of the chocolate mixture to form a perfectly round ball about 2” wide. There will now be a dark polka dot in the center of the cake.
Then, using the same procedure, squeeze out 6 smaller balls around the rim. In order to space the 6 balls evenly, place the first one at twelve o’clock (straight up), the next at six o’clock (straight down). Then, two on each side. Doing it this way, the chances are that the spacing will be quite even. The balls around the rim should be smaller than the one in the center, and they should not touch each other or the center ball. If you have some chocolate mixture left over, add it to the center ball; if you still have some left over, add a bit to each of the other balls.
The top of the cake will not be smooth and level now, but it will level itself during baking. When baked, the polka dot in the center will be about 2½” wide, the dots around the rim will be about 1½” wide.
Place the cake pan into the larger pan. Place it in the oven and pour hot water into the larger pan, about 1½” deep.
Bake for 1½ hours. The top of the cake will become golden-brown and it will feel dry to the touch. But the cake will still be soft inside (it will become firm when it has cooled and been refrigerated).
Lift the cake pan out of the water and place it on a cake rack. Cool the cake in the pan for 2½ hours. Chill for several hours, preferably overnight. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place a flat plate or small board upside down over the pan and turn the pan and the plate or board upside down. Carefully remove the pan. Gently place another flat plate or small board upside down over the cake and carefully invert again (without squashing the cake), leaving the cake right side up. Remove the plastic wrap.
To serve, dip a sharp knife in very hot water before making each cut (shake off the water but do not dry the blade). Make the first cut through the middle of one of smaller dots and the second cut (the one that will release the first portion) between two of the smaller dots.
– adapted from Saveur and Maida Heatter