Baking/ Christmas/ Dessert/ Entertaining/ Vegetarian

Baked Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

The local grocers have called last chance on cherries, so I figure my last hurrah with these little gems this season may as well be a showstopper.

This cake. OMG. I think it could actually be the reason for my very existence.

We all know that cherry and chocolate is a match made in delicious heaven, but it’s the perfect balance of the creamy filling and decadent toppings that really make this baked cheesecake all that it is (and it is great).

Think sweet, plump summer cherries, gently baked in a creamy, fluffy, not-too-sweet base, and topped with a silky ganache.

Oh, wait!

Just a few more of those sweet, plump summer cherries in all their unadulterated glory piled high on top… that just brings new meaning to the term ‘crowning glory’.

Now, this is a cake.

I actually made this cake with my son for my own birthday. No word of a lie, the method is easy enough for a five-year-old to happily don his apron and help out with zero hassle and nil error. The hardest part is pitting the cherries, but lets be frank – that’s not really fun for anyone, even if they aren’t five.

On that note, what’s your favourite method when it comes to the good ol’ cherry-pit? I refuse to buy a contraption for this, and there are many on the market. I just go for the classic chopstick-through-the-centre method. It’s time consuming and stains everything from the cutting board, to my hands, to my (usually white) shirt, to the ceiling, but it does the job, so lets go with it. And I absolutely love cherries (even more in this ah-mazing cake) so let’s push through (cherry-soaked shirts and all).

Hostilities aside, cherries really are the bomb, and this cake takes advantage of what is a somewhat tragic end to a very short season.

I don’t often mess around with baking cheesecakes… why would I, when not baking is heaps easier? Seriously though guys, cheesecakes are often baked for a reason, and this recipe is a classic example. The method in it will bring you a cake with the texture of a fluffy cloud without too much effort, so just dive in.

If I am going to offer any tips around cheesecake of the baked variety, it would be these:

1. Don’t add more sugar than this recipe calls for and resist the urge to use coffee creamers or any other strange flavours in your cream cheese base. I’ve adapted this recipe to ensure that there is absolutely none of the tartness you may normally get from cream cheese – I promise that if you do this well, you won’t need to down a glass of water with your serving to get the sweetness off your palate (is there anything more heartbreaking to watch?)

2. Utilise the water bath. There are going to be a tonne of people that skip through this blurb and hit up the recipe without it – and that’s fine. What they won’t realise is, putting the cheesecake in a watertight water bath is the crucial step that ensures a moist and perfectly baked cheesecake. It’s not hard to do, just make sure you use enough foil to ensure no water gets inside your cake tin (three layers is good).

3. Don’t rush to decorate the cake! It will smell so incredibly good whilst cooking that you will need to hold your good self back from touching it. Seriously though, you need to hold your horses. Go with a slow cooling process, or you will end up with an unsightly crack across the diameter of your cake. Once the cake is done, open the door of your (switched off) oven a few centimetres and just let it sit for a while… at least an hour.

Outside of that, my friends, go bananas. Slather the top of that cake with gooey, drizzly ganache, throw some choc chips around the edges, and take advantage of those last-of-the-season cherries.

The fresh cherries pair amazingly with the chocolate, and I promise you, this is the most delectable and creamiest of cheesecakes you will ever devour… and you really won’t be subjected to the tangy tartness that comes with most cheesecakes).

This is a centrepiece cake that wants you to indulge, so grab yourself a big slice, pour yourself a glass of Riesling and, enjoy.

Baked Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

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By Nosh - An Eater's Manifesto Serves: 8 - 10
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour + 8 hours refrigeration

Cherry and chocolate is a match made in delicious heaven, but it’s the perfect balance of the creamy filling and decadent toppings that really make this baked cheesecake the delectable treat that it is - with no tangy tartness!

Ingredients

  • For the cheesecake:
  • 750g cream cheese (brought to room temperature)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teapoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped cherries
  • 1 ½ cups Oreo cookies
  • 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • For the ganache:
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 250g dark chocolate
  • For topping/garnish
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • Fresh cherries

Instructions

1

For the base

2

Preheat oven to 180C

3

Place the Oreo cookies in a blender of food processor and pulse until they form a fine crumb. In a bowl, combine the crumbs with the melted butter and mix well.

4

Wrap the bottom and sides of a greased 20cm springform cheesecake pan in 3 tight layers of aluminium foil.

5

Add the crumb and butter mixture to the pan and evenly distribute it across the base, pressing the crumbs down flat with the bottom of a cup.

6

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

7

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

8

For the filling

9

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.

10

Add in the sugar, vanilla and cream and combine well.

11

Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition for 1 minute.

12

Fold the chopped cherries into the mixture and pour the mixture on top of the cooled base.

13

On a large baking tray, place the pan inside a larger pan (approximately 30cm), filling the larger one carefully with water to about half way up the side of the smaller pan.

14

Place the baking tray with the water bath in the oven and bake for 60 minutes. The cake is done when the centre wobbles slightly when jiggled.

15

Turn the oven off and open the door 5 – 6 centimetres. Allow to slowly cool to room temperature for 1 – 2 hours before removing.

16

Once cooled, remove cake pan from the water bath and refrigerate for at least 8 hours to firm up.

17

Once ready to decorate, remove cake carefully from spring form pan and place on your chosen serving dish or cake stand.

18

For the ganache

19

Break up the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl.

20

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chunks. Allow to sit for 2 minutes to melt the chocolate and then stir well.

21

Once combined, allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

22

Pour the chocolate ganache generously on top of the cake, allowing it to drizzle naturally down the sides.

23

Sprinkle around the edges of the cake with the chocolate chips (on top of the ganache).

24

Pile fresh cherries high in the centre of the cake and around base the base for garnish.

25

Serve immediately.

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