Every year on the anniversary of my mother’s passing away, I make cheesecake. Mum’s favourite of all time desserts was cheesecake—especially New York style cheesecake and this was one of the last things she was able to properly taste and enjoy before she passed away. I make cheesecake every year on this day as my own personal rememberance, a kind of nuturing of the memory of her through the act of making cheesecake. After two kinds of New York cheesecake already accomplished, this year I decided to shake things up with a chocolate cheesecake. Nigella Lawson’s Feast features a whole section appropriately entitled ‘chocolate cake hall of fame’. The chocolate cheesecake I made was featured in this section in all its fatty-hardy glory. I love that in a cookbook titled Feast there is a whole section dedicated to chocolate! Feast is one of those cookbooks you take off the shelf and refer to when you have that special occasion or if you just feeling extravagant. Now that I think about it, all of Nigella’s books are kind of for when you are feeling indulgent (probably to do with the high butter and cream content of a lot of recipes). After I made the chocolate cheesecake, I realised it would be even more perfect with a touch of cardamom but on the other hand, the chocolate on its own is truly divine. It is rich, well, it should be considering all the chocolate and cream cheese in it. Even if most people say you don’t need to use a water bath, I think it is necessary to give the cheesecake that silky undeniably cheesecake texture. They should invent a press n’ seal version that is oven-friendly as my ten layers of tin foils still didn’t seem to stop all of the water from seeping into the inside of the tin which always makes me panic, thinking I will have a soggy cheesecake base. But once refridgerated it came right. Phew.
125g digestive biscuits
1 Tablespoon cocoa (Green and Black’s if possible)
175g dark chocolate, cut up into small pieces
500g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g caster sugar
1 Tablespoon Bird’s custard powder
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
150g sour cream
1/2 teaspoon cocoa, dissolved in 1 Tablespoon hot water
Make the base: process the biscuits to make rough crumbs and add the butter and the cocoa (or you could crush the biscuits in a bag and stir through the butter and cocoa). Process/mix till you have a damp, crumbly consistency and tip into a 23cm springform tin. Press the mixture into the bottom of the tin to make an even base, transfer to the freezer.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. Beat the cream cheese to soften it and then add sugar and custard powder, beating to combine. Add the whole eggs and then the yolks and finally the sour cram. Add the cocoa dissolved in water and the melted chocolate and mix to a smooth batter. Remove the tin from the freezer and line the outside with many layers of tin foil making sure it is covered tightly otherwise the base might not be protected from the water bath. Put the tin in a roasting pan and pour in the cheesecake filling. Fill the roasting pan just above half-way up with just-boiled water. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You will know the cheesecake is done when the top is set and smooth to the touch but the underside is still a tad wobbly.
This recipe is from Feast: food that celebrates life (Chatto and Windus).