Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not so paleo (but super yummy!) New York (with chocolate) Cheesecake

So I must share.. last night I finally managed to make my first cheesecake that didn't crack!
New York Style Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the pan
(see bottom of post for a gluten free/paleo crust)

4 packages 250 gram packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 ½ cups sour cream (not low-fat), divided
1 ½ cups dark semi-sweet chocolate chunks
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Cheesecake Assembly
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. For the crust, stir the graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter until evenly combined and press this into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake this for 10 minutes, then cool. Brush the sides of the pan with a little melted butter.

3. For the cheesecake, increase the oven temperature to 400 F. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the 1 ¼ cups of sugar a little at a time, and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often. Beat in the cornstarch and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time, on a lower speed, and scraping after each addition, then beat in the yolk. Still on low speed, beat in ¾ cup of sour cream. Add chocolate chunks. Scrape this over the cooled crust.

4. Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes at 400 F and then reduce the oven temperature to 360 F and bake for 45 more minutes checking at 30 minutes for done-ness. While the cheesecake is baking, prepare the sour cream layer.

5. Stir the remaining ¾ cup of sour cream with the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar and the lemon juice. Spread this over the top of the cheesecake as soon as it has come out of the oven. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely to room temperature, then carefully run a spatula around the outside of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan, then chill the cheesecake for at least 6 hours before slicing and serving.

6. The cheesecake will keep, refrigerated, for up to 4 days

(this cheesecake was adapted from a recipe found on the

Things I learned (and what I think helped along my success)
  • I always have before put a pan of water in the oven with the cheesecake in hopes of stopping cracking. Before embarking on this adventure I did a bit of research and ran across a website that recommended placing the springform pan in a larger pan, and filling water approximately half way up the springform. I tried it this time (with only a small amount of fear that it would leak into and ruin my cheesecake) and I think that it really helped!
  • Use dark semi-sweet chocolate. The cheesecake is rather sweet as it is so I chose to use the semi-sweet to contrast. Instead of getting sweet cheesecake with sweet chocolate, your taste buds get a surprise with the slight bitter taste of the semi-sweet. Next time I may also consider adding a tart fruit (like raspberries or sour cherries)
  • When a cheesecake it done, it should jiggle. A PDF found on provided a lot of good tips regarding the whole cheesecake process that I found to be quite helpful. Some of them I disregarded based on the recipe directions, but the ones regarding done-ness of the cheesecake were invaluable!

If you would prefer to do a gluten free/paleo crust...

Crust (gf/paleo)
1 cup of nuts (any, although I would personally choose cashews)
8 large medjool dates (about 225 grams), pitted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
4 Tablespoons of cocoa powder

Crust Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Press dough down into a well greased 8in springform pan and set aside (no pre-baking required)
3. Proceed with cheesecake directions from above.