Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fudge Brownie Cheesecake


I have always wanted to make a cheesecake. But I was scared, very scared. I can bake with the best of them, I can make tiramisu, cannoli, towering cupcakes, phenominal layer cakes, pies and souffles... However, the idea of a springform pan and this delecate, wobbly piece of delicious-ness coming out in one piece frightened the heck out of me. I finally mustered up enough courage to make one. Last month, we had a dinner party, and I of course, was to bring dessert. I wanted something fabulous that everyone would be wowed by. I was tired of cakes and cupcakes and pies. I needed something that would be elegant. This cheesecake was just it. I ventured out and purchased my first springform pan, and the poor pan is thinking, "leave me alone already." I have only made this cheesecake no less than 3 times in the last month. Unfortunately, my waistline is thinking the same thing as the pan! Let me just tell you however - I tried this cheesecake the day before the party, and I brought the first one I made. What in the world was I so afraid of?? And how could one go wrong? A chocolate crust, fudge brownies in every bite, and a lovely ganache glaze finish.  Good luck making this one last. There wasn't a morsel left after our dinner party!

Fudge Brownie Cheesecake
adapted in parts from Smitten Kitchen

First off, you must make a pan of brownies. If you are like me, a box will not do. My favorite fudge brownies are some that my mom has made for years. But of course, a box mix or your own favorite fudge brownie recipe will work just as well. Once the brownies are made and cooled, cut into 1 inch squares - you will need 2 cups worth for the cheesecake.

Chocolate Crust:

1 box of finely ground chocolate teddy grahams. (No, I am not delerious from spending the day with my 2 year old, they are seriously the best)
10 T. melted, unsalted butter
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt

Stir together everything in a medium bowl. Press into a 9 or 10 inch, buttered springform pan. (I would HIGHLY recommend the Calphalon Classic from BB&B if you need one!) Press on the bottom as well as an inch up the sides. Fill immediately.

Cheesecake:

3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
2 c. brownie cubes

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cream cheese until light and fluffy. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, and proceed to add vanilla and sugar. Fold in the brownie cubes and pour into prepared pan. Place springform pan on a shallow baking sheet. Bake for 50-55 minutes until cheesecake is set 3 inches from the edge, but the center is still slightly wobbly. Your oven time may vary. Cool completely then top with ganache.

Ganache:

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. butter
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. powdered sugar

Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Scald the butter and the cream in the microwave in a pyrex dish. Pour over chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk together until smooth. Add vanilla and sugar and whisk again until smooth. Pour over cheesecake and refridgerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

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