I was slightly anxious about including a cheesecake in this section as I’m not sure cheesecake counts as cake, but then a friend pointed out that I was unlikely to be taken to some International Court of Cakes. In any event, it would be such a pity to leave it out. In fact, I couldn’t.
In the past, I’ve been apologetic about adulterating your basic cheesecake, but I’ve moved on. This is exceptional: exactly the right balance between satiny sweetness and smooth tang. Regard the glaze as optional: it makes it into more of a dinner party thang, but there is no call to get busy if you’d rather not. A few raspberries alongside would be heavenly, but again, no need to bother adding a single thing.
- 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
- ½ stick butter
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 6oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped small
- 2½ cups Philadelphia cream cheese
- ¾ cup superfine sugar
- 1 tablespoon Bird’s custard powder
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
- 3oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon dark corn syrup
To make the base, process the graham crackers to make rough crumbs and then add the butter and cocoa. Process again until it makes damp, clumping crumbs and then tip them into a 9 inch springform pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan to make an even base and put into the freezer while you make the filling.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put a kettle on to boil. Melt the chocolate either in a microwave or double boiler, and set aside to cool slightly.
Beat the cream cheese to soften it, and then add the sugar and custard powder, beating again to combine. Beat in the whole eggs and then the yolks, and the sour cream. Finally add the cocoa dissolved in hot water and the melted chocolate, and mix to a smooth batter. Take the springform pan out of the freezer and line the outside of the pan with a good layer of plastic wrap, and then another layer of strong aluminum foil over that. This will protect it from the water bath. Sit the springform pan in a roasting pan and pour in the cheesecake filling. Fill the roasting pan with just-boiled water to come about halfway up the cake pan, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The top of the cheesecake should be set, but the underneath should still have a wobble to it.
Peel away the foil and plastic wrap and sit the cheesecake in its pan on a rack to cool. Put in the fridge once it’s no longer hot, and leave to set, covered with plastic wrap, overnight. Let it lose its chill before unspringing the cheesecake to serve.
To make the chocolate glaze, very gently melt the chopped chocolate, cream and syrup. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take off the heat and whisk it to a smooth sauce. Let it cool a little, and then Jackson Pollock it over the chocolate cheese-cake on its serving plate. Use the remaining glaze as an accompanying sauce.
This recipe serves 12. Nutritional information does not include optional glaze.