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(AP) - Cheesecake by definition is rich and decadent. So we knew that if we were going to make a special cheesecake just for Christmas, it would need to be even richer and even more decadent.
So we started with an amazingly indulgent cheesecake base _ a mere 32 ounces of cream cheese blended with a cup of sugar and six eggs _ then spiked it not only with vanilla bean, but also chopped bittersweet chocolate. But this is not standard chocolate cheesecake. In our recipe, the chocolate remains a distinct, deliciously toothsome confetti strewn throughout the cheesecake.
For that seasonal red and green we have come to expect from our Christmas treats, we top the finished cake with warm red currant jam and chopped pistachios. The result is as delicious as it is beautiful.
RED CURRANT AND CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
Start to finish: 7 1/2 hours (30 minutes active)
6 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (2/3 of a 9-ounce package)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean or 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
Heat the oven to 375 F. Coat a deep 10-inch cake pan with baking spray, then line the bottom with kitchen parchment.
In a food processor, combine the chocolate wafer cookies and brown sugar. Pulse until finely ground. Drizzle in the butter and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pare and press evenly over the bottom. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 300 F.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl use an electric mixer on medium-low to beat the cream cheese until smooth. Take care to not beat in any extra air, but to scrape down the bowl thoroughly to avoid any lumps. Add the granulated sugar and beat again, scraping the bowl thoroughly. Add the eggs one at a time, again incorporating gently, but thoroughly scraping the bowl.
Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean or add the vanilla extract. Stir in the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the batter into the prepared pan over the crust. Tap the pan gently on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Place the pan into a larger roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan, taking care not to get any into the cheesecake, to come halfway up the sides of the cake.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until just barely jiggly at the center. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a spoon. Allow to cool for 2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and refrigerate until completely cold, at least 4 hours.
When ready to unmold the cheesecake, run a paring knife around the edge. Dip just the bottom of the pan in hot water for 1 minute to loosen the crust. Place a large plate over the top of the pan, then flip the pan over so that the cheesecake is upside down. The cake should release onto the plate. Remove the parchment from the crust and place a serving platter over it. Flip the cake a second time to end with the cheesecake right side up.
Microwave the red currant jelly for 1 minute and stir until smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Garnish the edges with chopped pistachios.
Nutrition information per serving: 420 calories; 280 calories from fat (67 percent of total calories); 31 g fat (18 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 140 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 25 g sugar; 9 g protein; 270 mg sodium.
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