nothing says valentine’s day more than chocolate so the timing perfect was perfect for the tuesdays with dorie bakers to mix up a chocolate-mascarpone cheesecake. my only wish was that i would actually enjoy it. sadly, i am one of those people that just does not like the combination of chocolate and cream cheese and this cheesecake did little for me. to compound matters, my husband has to limit his intake of dairy products because despite how much he loves them, they do not like him much at all! the good news, we were attending a white elephant/pot luck lunch and this was the perfect treat to bring along to share.
to make the cakes so that serving them at a potluck would be easy, i filled muffin tins with a crumb crust and baked little individual cakes. the recipe called for using cookie crumbs to coat the bottom of cake after it is baked and turned out of the pan. this idea sounded a little wacky to me, actually it sounded like a lot of work that just wasn’t necessary. but this is the sort of thing you will encounter every time you bake a cheesecake in a water bath while using a springform pan or one of those specialty cheesecake pans with a removable bottom. a very long time ago, i abandoned this method because water baths are a pain in the…well, you know what i mean.
on more than one occasion, i have listed my fool proof hints for baking a perfect cheesecake and you can read some of them here or read the entire article here-i apologize in advance for the commercial. but if you read them, they will help you reach cheesecake nirvana. one of my rules for cheesecakes is to bypass the graham cracker crumbs. they are an awful addition to a cake that you have just invested a bit money on-chocolate and cheesecake are not necessarily cheap. my preference is to use my own cookie crumbs made from my biscotti recipe. by mixing up a batch of my own cookies, i can flavor them how ever i see fit and i can tailor the crust to the cake. biscotti crumbs also keep well in the closet. if you are not inclined to mix up a batch, buy some that have not been dipped in chocolate so that they are not oily after you grind them up.
air is the enemy. it is so easy to over mix a cheesecake batter and if you incorporate a lot of unneeded air, your cake will souffle and could crack. it will also sink as it chills and it can kill the texture. to prevent this, your food processor is your best friend. it will do a much better job of incorporating the ingredients, especially the chocolate without aerating the custard. no, i am not mistaken, cheesecake is a custard that is treated like a cake. think about it for a moment; large quantities of cream cheese mixed with sugar, eggs, more dairy products and chocolate with a tiny bit of flour make it more like a baked custard. if you approach the recipe with this attitude, and treat it like you would a baked custard, it is suddenly so much easier to understand and succeed.
to fill the cups, i used a portion scoop, a #20 scoop which usually has a yellow handle. the recipe made 18 muffin sized cakes and a 4″ cake that my husband thoroughly enjoyed.
for standard size muffins, they did not take much time in the oven, maybe 20 minutes. i hate to say this but i didn’t really time them, i just watched them like a hawk and when i saw the tops getting a little “dry and blistery” across the top and a little puffy, i pulled them out of the oven. they cooled just as quickly and i popped them out of the pans.
because a cheesecake by itself almost seems criminal, i cooked up a batch of cherry topping to go with it. this is the little 4″ cake that my husband and i shared. well, i tasted it, he ate the rest. to be honest, i did not get any flavor from the mascarpone-the chocolate completely overpowered it. if i were to use the recipe again, which is not likely, i would omit the mascarpone and use more sour cream; it would give more flavor and cost a lot less. the texture of the cake was simply too dense for me, i like my cheesecake to be more on the creamy side.
with a generous helping of cherries and syrup, the cake was pretty good, but if i had my choice, it would not have had any chocolate in it! however, my husband disagreed, whole heartedly-he enjoyed it with and without the cherry topping.
to see what the other bakers came up with, be sure to visit the tuesdays with dorie page.