Recipe from Sweet Home by Rebecca Miller Ffrench (Kyle Books, 2012)Velvety and rich, cheesecake has always been near and dear to my heart. It was one of the first grownup desserts I learned to make, straight from the pages of Rosso and Lukins's The New Basics Cookbook. I served the book's Almond Sour Cream Cheesecake at more dinner parties than I care to count, but it always received rave reviews. A little cheesecaked-out, I stopped making them for a while. My daughter Camilla shares the same fondness I have for the indulgent cake, and for a Halloween party inspired me to reignite my passion. The chocolatey web that dons the top of this cheesecake is easy to create but makes a spectacular presentation. Add a few toy spiders for an even more frightening display. The recipe for this pure, undoctored cheesecake is adapted from that New Basics favorite of mine.
Serves 10 to 12
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 2 cups ground chocolate wafer cookies
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2. Make the crust: Using a food processor, finely grind the almonds. Add the cookies, sugar, and melted butter and pulse until thoroughly combined. Firmly press the cookie mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, continuing to form the crust halfway up the sides of the pan. Set aside.
3. Make the filling: Combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla and almond extracts in a food processor. When well blended, add the eggs and process until thoroughly combined. Pour the filling into the prepared pan with the crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, start the topping: Combine the sour cream and sugar in a small bowl.
5. When the cake has just begun to crack, remove it from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Spread the topping evenly over the cake and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the topping is set. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 1 hour before decorating.
6. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips and butter together, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and allow the chocolate to cool before placing it in a plastic resealable bag. Cut a small corner off one side. Twist the top of the bag slightly and gently squeeze out the chocolate onto a piece of wax paper. Practice making a small circle.
7. Starting in the center of the cake, make a circle. Continue making concentric circles around the first circle until you've covered the entire cake with circles. Next, slowly drag a toothpick from the center of the cake to the outside edge moving in a straight line the entire way. Move your way around the cake, dragging the toothpick to the outer edge 8 to 10 times. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving.