Last week was the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Celebrating the receiving of the Torah and marked by the consumption of dairy products, it's a great holiday all around. Cheesecake!
Since I don't make cheesecake all that often (with the exception of a Thanksgiving adventure and last Shavuot) - I like to plan an elaborate one. This brownie mosaic cheesecake from Smitten Kitchen definitely fit the bill.
There are four components - the crust, the cream cheese filling, the brownies and the ganache topping. Each component simple, and coming together in the most delicious manner.
I made the brownies the day before, and was pleasantly surprised that my cheesecake was in the oven within an hour of starting. And boy was it delicious. Somehow it didn't look as neat and perfect as Smitten Kitchen's, but really that isn't much of a surprise. Also, you'll have way to much brownie left over - but, that didn't seem to be too much of a problem in my house.
It was still really rich and heavy in the way that only cheesecakes can be, studded with brownies that somehow blended in in texture but kept the rich brownie flavor, and a delicious cookie crust.
About that crust - as per Smitten Kitchen instructions, I used smiling, precious teddy bear shaped graham crackers - much more satisfying to crush and kill.
Though the instructions were given for a doubled crust I was a reluctant to do so, but then found that the crust only really covered the bottom of the pan, not the sides. If you want it to come up higher on the sides of the pan, double the amounts I give.
Oh the carnage!
A survivor surveys the wreckage.
I wasn't actually originally planning on making the ganache to top the cheesecake, but when it came out of the oven I thought it was a little ugly looking, so I figured I should cover it up. I ignored her recipe and just melted some chocolate chips and butter together, which is fine for eating within a day or two but may temper otherwise.
Tip of the Day: Though I often bake brownies and other bar cookies in foil, this time I wanted the crisp edge that a metal baking pan gives for making the cubes.
Recipe: (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups or 5 ounces finely ground chocolate cookies or wafers
5 tbsps melted butter or margarine
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie cubes
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp confectioners sugar
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour and salt.
Line a 9x13" pan with foil and grease. Pour in the batter and bake for 30 to 35 minutes on 350 F. Let cool and refrigerate until needed (makes it easier to cube).
Stir the cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt together.
Press into the bottom of a greased 10 inch springform pan.
Beat the cream cheese on medium until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
Beat in sugar and vanilla.
Gently fold in 2 to 3 cups of 1-inch brownie cubes. Pour into the prepared crust, and bake on 350 for about 40 minutes, or until it is set on the outside ring.
When cake is cooled completely, grind the chocolate into powder in the food processor.
Scald the butter and cream in a saucepan, the pour it into the feed tube of the food processor while the machine is running. Blend until smooth, then add the vanilla and sugar. Spread over cheesecake.