In case you'd forgotten, Sunday was Valentine's Day today. I know, it's basically a Hallmark holiday, designed to sell overpriced cards, mediocre chocolate and hothouse roses that will wilt and die in about 24 hours. Can you feel the love?
I won't lie and say it isn't nice to have a Valentine, despite the general bah-humbug-ness I have about the holiday. Dwight and I have been together for the past 14 years and I'm certainly not bah-humbug about that.
It's a lot different than it was for the first Valentine's Day. We'd only been dating a few weeks and were still a bit shy and nervous. We went out to a nice dinner, were on our best behavior and went through the agony of picking out just the right card – nice without appearing TOO forward or lovey dovey.
After 12-1/2 years of marriage, we no longer bother with dinner out. Instead, we took some NY strips out of the freezer, invited over another couple, and I made cheesecake. Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, to be precise. Who needs to go out with that kind of menu?
And what says "I love you" more than Triple Chocolate Cheesecake? Not much.
Triple Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted from Prevention.com
9 oz graham crackers, crushed (You can use chocolate wafer cookies instead. I just didn't have any on hand)
1/4 c Smart Balance spread, melted (can use butter)
2 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
5 oz mini chocolate chips (about 2/3-3/4 cup)
3 pkgs (8 oz ea) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), at room temperature
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 lg eggs, at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9" spring-form pan with oil.
2. Melt spread or butter. Blend graham crackers in food processor into crumbs. With processor running, slowly drizzle melted butter over crumbs until combined. Press into bottom and slightly up the sides of pan. Set aside.
3. In stand mixer or large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
4. Add sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Beat well. Add melted chocolate.
5. Pour approximately half of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle mini chips evenly over the top. Carefully cover with remaining batter, dropping by spoonful and gently spreading to evenly cover the chips.
(see the little chips in the middle?)6. Bake for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. It will be slightly wobbly. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack, leaving the cake in the pan. Once cool, place in refrigerator overnight.
adapted from Smitten Kitchen (this is from the Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake I made for Dwight's birthday last year)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 oz butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
1. Place chocolate in small, heat proof bowl.
2. In small sauce pan, heat butter over medium low heat until melted. Add cream and heat until nearly boiling, stirring constantly. Don't over heat.
3. Pour hot butter and cream mixture over chocolate. Let sit, without stirring, about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and sugar. Mix thoroughly with small whisk, stirring until smooth and glossy. Taste and add additional sugar if you want.
4. Pour over chilled cheesecake, smoothing the top. I let mine stay within the natural "well" the top of the cheesecake made, but you could push the ganach over the edges for an artful drippy look or cover completely.
5. Chill at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
Now, I didn't do the whole water bath thing or prop the oven door after it's done baking thing because I wasn't worried about having a pristine top. I didn't care if this cracked because of the ganache glaze. The way I see it, the imperfection of the chasm means just that much more ganache for the lucky person or persons that get those slices.