Over the holidays, I enjoyed a couple of weeks off, and during that time I set a few goals for myself. I wanted to start the new year off on the right foot, and getting myself organized was far overdue. My goals were: (1) Clean up my email inbox; (2) File away all of my recipe clippings from magazines; and (3) Organize my side of the office. I’m happy to report that, as of last week, I managed check everything off of my list.
As I worked on task #2, I sifted through stacks and stacks of recipes that I had ripped out of magazines over the coarse of the last year, I came across not one, not two, but multiple recipes for black forest cheesecake. I’ve apparently had chocolate, cheesecake and cherries on the brain. Suddenly, I was craving a black forest cheesecake, but as I looked through the recipes I had saved, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of them. I decided to concoct my own version, and I have to say… this is utterly fantastic. Hands down, one of the best cheesecakes I’ve created. (Although really, I don’t think I’ve disliked a single cheesecake that I’ve made.)
When I set out to make this recipe, I realized that I hadn’t ever made a basic chocolate cheesecake. Totally unfortunate, right?! They’re so good! I ended up adapting an Epicurious recipe for the chocolate cheesecake, and then finished it off with a homemade cherry pie filling topping. Since cherries aren’t in season here right now, I used frozen cherries, but you could certainly use fresh if you have them available to you.
To say that this cheesecake was phenomenal would be an enormous understatement. I am 100% partial to cheesecakes with an Oreo crust, pretty much no matter what the cheesecake flavor is. Add to that a very tall chocolate cheesecake, a thick border of cream cheese-spiked whipped cream frosting, and then, of course, the cherries. Everyone who had this was absolutely enamored with it.
This is rich, make no mistake, and it’s worth savoring every single bite. Grab a cup of coffee and be sure to linger over a piece of this cheesecake.
This cheesecake should be a lesson to me to keep myself organized going forward!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round springform pan; set aside.
Make the Crust: Process the cookies and sugar in a food processor until ground into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture is evenly moistened. (If you do not have a food processor, you can place the cookies in a zip-top bag and crush into crumbs with a rolling pin, then transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar and melted butter.) Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is set, about 8 minutes. Set on a cooling rack while the filling is prepared.
Make the Filling: Place the chopped chocolate in a metal bowl and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Remove bowl from the saucepan and allow chocolate to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding another. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and beat until just combined. Using a rubber spatula to give it a final mix (the batter will be on the thick side) and pour the filling over the crust, smoothing the top into an even layer.
Bake until the center just barely wiggles when moved and the top looks dry, about 1 hour. Cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen. Transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator and chill, uncovered, overnight.
Make the Cherry Topping: Drain off ¼ cup of juice from the thawed cherries and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries (and any remaining juice), sugar and salt over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a boil, about 5 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved cherry juice and cornstarch, and add it to the cherry mixture. Stir constantly until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until ready to use, at least 1 hour.
Make the Whipped Cream: On medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixer with the whisk attachment until smooth and completely combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream, scrape the sides of the bowl, then increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.
Finish the Cheesecake: When ready to serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and place the cheesecake on a serving platter. Using a pastry bag with a decorating tip, pipe a border of whipped cream around the top edge of the cheesecake. Spoon the cherry pie filling into the center. Garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired. Leftover cheesecake can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.