For my husband's birthday a couple of weeks ago, he opted to stay home for a low-key home cooked meal. He requested chicken enchilladas but said he had no preference for a dessert.
This recipe for a Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake from Smitten Kitchen has been popping up all over my Google Reader, so I took that as a sign. We both enjoy cheesecake, and since I've never made it myself, I was excited for the challenge. Thanks to a friend who lent me her spring-form pan, I rolled up my sleeves (and put Cars on for Ryan) and hopped into the kitchen.
This was actually very good! It did crack, but not too badly. I also had issues with the time; I probably kept it in the oven for an extra half hour. But every hot minute in the kitchen was worth it, because I really loved this cheesecake, and so did the birthday boy.Part One: One Bowl Brownies
Adapted from Baker’s One Bowl Brownies
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s chocolate, optional of course)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 3/4cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.
Cool brownies, then cut* them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will have more than the two cups of cubes, loosely measured, than you will need, and I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to decide for yourself what to do with the extra. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.
* I find that brownies are fantastically easy to cut once they’ve been refrigerated–you end up with nice clean lines, and in this case, a sharp pizza wheel was especially helpful. Also, brownies taste better cold. I’m just saying.
Part Two: Crumb Crust
Adapted from Gourmet, 1999
I like a doubled crumb crust. I can’t get enough cookie. Below are proportions for one crust with the amounts to double the recipe in parentheses. You know you wanna.
1 1/2 cups or 5 ounces (3 cups or 10 ounces to double) finely ground cookies such as chocolate wafers. Or Chocolate Teddy Grahams.
5 tablespoons (10 tablespoons to double) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (2/3 cup to double) sugar
1/8 (1/4 teaspoon to double) teaspoon salt
Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.
Part Three: Cheesecake
Adapted from the Three Cities of Spain Coffeehouse
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie cubs (from recipe above)
Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.
Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
When completely cool, top with following glaze.
Part Four: Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Purdy’s original recipe
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
Grind the chocolate into powder in the food processor, scald the butter and cream in a saucepan (or in a Pyrex cup in the microwave). With the machine running, pour the hot cream/butter mixture slowly through the feed tube onto the chocolate. Blend until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides once or twice. Add the extract and sugar and process until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.