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I’m the cake-maker in my family.  About a week before someone’s big day, with much anticipation, I make the call.  “What kind of cake would you like this year?”

A few days ago I got the go-ahead on a cheesecake from a very important family member.  I wanted a challenge, so I decided to guild the lilies a bit; add a chocolate crust and maybe some sort of chocolate cheesecake swirls. 

The chocolate crust was made from King Arthur Flour’s Chocolate Graham Crackers Recipe, mixed with a few tablespoons of melted Cabot Butter.  You can make this as thin or as thick a crust layer as you like, I used about 2 ½ cups of crushed crackers, for a ½”-thick bottom layer.  Our Unsweetened Cocoa Powder made the crackers rich and light, and the recipe makes enough for leftovers to nibble on for days after. 

For the cheesecake swirls, I melted a small handful of Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate chips, mixed them with about 1/3 cup of the cheesecake batter and piped out the decoration on top. 

The secret to making a cheesecake that doesn’t crack on top while baking?  Instead of placing your spring form pan directly on the oven rack, place it in a roasting pan filled about halfway with hot water, using foil to wrap the bottom if you’re nervous about water seeping in.  The extra humidity from the water prevents the cake from cracking and makes it extremely moist.

Crust
2 – 3 cups of Chocolate Graham Crackers, either homemade or store-bought
4 tbsp melted butter.

Cheesecake
¾ c + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
30 ounces cream cheese (3 ¾ 8-oz packages), softened
1 egg
½ c heavy cream
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract

Chocolate Swirls
2 ounces Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350º.  Generously butter the bottom and sides of a spring form cake pan.

To make the crust, crumb the graham crackers, either with a rolling pin in a plastic bag or with a mortar and pestle.  Mix with melted butter, press an even layer on bottom of buttered pan.  Refrigerate while preparing the cake.

Whisk together sugar and cornstarch.  Combine with softened cream cheese and mix over low speed until combined.  Add egg and heavy cream separately, combining well after each addition.  Add extracts.  Make sure to scrape down sides and bottom of pan to incorporate all ingredients.

In a double-boiler over medium heat or at 30-second intervals in your microwave, melt chocolates, just to liquid – do not over heat.  Add about 1/3 cup cheesecake batter and mix well.

Gently fill the pan with the cheesecake batter, smoothing the top by tapping it on the counter.  Pipe or drizzle the chocolate cheesecake and swirl around if you’d like. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until you begin to see very light brown spots on top of the cake.  Cool on a wire rack at least three hours and then refrigerate to chill before serving.


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