One hot chocolate Mess

I haven’t had the best of luck with cheesecakes.  The first one I ever tried was a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, which I was making for a dinner party the hubby and I were throwing at our humble abode.  Yeah…that was a memorable experience.  I nearly set the oven on fire in our then Malibu Barbie pink kitchen (Yes.  It was pink.  It was hideously pink.  Have I ever told you how much I hate the colour pink?) and I had to resort to finishing the cheesecake off on our barbecue, which much to my surprise actually worked!  And the cheesecake wasn’t half bad.  But I’ve never had a cheesecake really work smoothly, with impeccable results.

I decided the best way to start the building this blog was to return where the idea for Clem’s Recipe Reviews all began – BuzzFeed Food’s Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.  As mentioned in my first post, this recipe is one hot mess.  And testing it for the blog again certainly did not disappoint in the epic failure that this recipe is. At least it confirmed my belief that the disastrous result was not due to human error, and I didn’t set my oven on fire!

Here’s the recipe. I’ve added metric conversion just in case you want to try this yourself –

INGREDIENTS

Crust

20 chocolate sandwich cookies
¼ cup brown sugar
7 tablespoons (99 grams) butter, melted
Cheesecake
32 ounces (907 grams) cream cheese, softened
4 ounces (113 grams) melted semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 ½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
Chocolate Ganache
16 ounces (450 grams) chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream, hot
PREPARATION
# Preheat oven to 300˚F/150˚C.

# Place cookies in plastic bag and crush them into a fine crumb using a rolling pin. Alternatively, a food processor can be used to crush the cookies.

# Pour the cookie crumbs into a medium bowl with the melted butter and brown sugar. Mix until the crumbs take on the character of a coarse, wet sand.
# Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch spring pan. Press the crumb firmly into the pan, making sure to coat the bottom evenly. Once the crust has been formed, place it in the refrigerator to firm up.

# Add cream cheese, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and sugar to a large bowl and whisk, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until all the ingredients are incorporated. (NOTE: If mixing by hand, it is recommended to microwave the cream cheese before whisking in order to soften it up.) Add vanilla extract and eggs, and continue to whisk until mixture is smooth and glossy.

# In a separate bowl, combine heavy cream and powdered sugar. Whisk until the cream develops a mousse-y texture and soft peaks form.

# Adding a small amount at a time, carefully fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese batter, being careful not to let the air out of the fluffy mixture. Fold just until incorporated.

# Once combined, pour the batter over the prepared cookie crust inside the springform pan. Use a spatula to smooth out the top. Give the pan a slight jiggle to release any large air bubbles that may be trapped in the batter.

# Place the filled pan on top of a sheet of aluminium foil and fold the foil up the sides on the outside of the pan. Then place the wrapped pan into a larger baking pan or dish lined with 2 paper towels at the bottom. The aluminium foil will keep water from seeping into the bottom of the pan and the paper towels ensure that the heat is distributed evenly along the bottom of the pan. Fill the larger pan with about 1 inch of hot water.

# Bake at 300˚F/150˚C for 60-70 minutes–checking every 15-20 minutes to add more hot water to the larger dish, as necessary.

# Once out of the oven, immediately run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cheesecake to release it from the pan. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely before removing it from the pan.

# Prepare the ganache by combining chocolate chips with hot cream. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and ganache is smooth and glossy.

# Pour ganache evenly over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the ganache covered cake for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

The Good, the Bad, and the Inedible

In a nutshell, this recipe…is shit. Pure shit. It’s an insult to cheesecakes everywhere. How this managed to be published just baffles me.

There’s two major things wrong with this recipe. The proportion of the ingredients is completely disproportionate to the size of pan, and the baking method actually doesn’t bake the cheesecake.

Let’s start at the beginning with the crust.

Crust

20 chocolate sandwich cookies
¼ cup brown sugar
7 tablespoons (99 grams) butter, melted

First of all, WAY too much butter.  So much so it leaks into the foil when it’s baking.  This was the very same problem with my White Chocolate Raspberry cheesecake.  Butter and a crappy rental apartment over do not mix.

Also, what’s the point of the brown sugar?  Chocolate sandwich cookies already have an incredible amount of sugar already in them (and surprisingly…some of them are vegan!), so what’s the point of adding even more to the crust? Unless you want your teeth to well and truly rot out of your skull as you’re eating this mess, there really isn’t any point in having this ingredient.

Now on to the batter.

Cheesecake
32 ounces (907 grams) cream cheese, softened
4 ounces (113 grams) melted semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 ½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar

The batter really has great potential.  Again, it’s the proportion of the ingredients that throws the recipe off into shitty food oblivion.  The ingredients create such a beautiful, decadent, glossy filling.  But good God there’s way too much mousse for this size cake pan, about 2 1/2 cups extra.  You can nearly make two of these cheesecakes if you follow these instructions to the letter.

The nail in the coffin for this recipe is the baking method.

# Place the filled pan on top of a sheet of aluminium foil and fold the foil up the sides on the outside of the pan. Then place the wrapped pan into a larger baking pan or dish lined with 2 paper towels at the bottom. The aluminium foil will keep water from seeping into the bottom of the pan and the paper towels ensure that the heat is distributed evenly along the bottom of the pan. Fill the larger pan with about 1 inch of hot water.

# Bake at 300˚F/150˚C for 60-70 minutes–checking every 15-20 minutes to add more hot water to the larger dish, as necessary.

The first time I tried this, I put the cheesecake in a large pot.

DSC_0012

Second time I tried it in my Sunday roast pan, thinking perhaps a lack of air flow was the culprit in this cake not baking.  Neither method worked. The result was a half baked, hot chocolate mess.  When I removed it from the pan to add the ganache, it just fell apart like in the image below.  Epic effing fail.

There was absolutely no point in continuing or re-attempting the recipe at this point.  I had already made it twice as per my rules and it certainly was not my baking skills that were putting this recipe to shame.

As I made this recipe I took notes. Heaps of notes, so I had a relatively good idea on what to do to make this recipe successful.  So I put my changes to the test. And what a relief.  The cake actually baked this time!  And it’s edible!  Incredibly rich, chocolaty yummy yummy goodness.

Now, granted I am not saying my version is absolute perfection, but it’s certainly a far cry from the failure Buzzfeed Food’s version is.  What I had to do was simple.  Reduce the amount of ingredients so there wasn’t a butter leakage problem in the crust and so much mousse leftover. I also had to simply straight bake the cheesecake in the oven.  Hot water baths are used to bring moisture into the oven as heat actually removes moisture from the air, preventing cheesecakes, custards, or other “wet” desserts from drying out and cracking.  You don’t have to necessarily use this method when baking a cheesecake, so I thought it worth trying this out sans hot water bath.  My cheesecake cracked, but it still baked.  At this point that’s all I really cared about! Next time I will probably cover the cheesecake in foil to prevent cracking once it has risen.  I still found my version moist and moussy though as the center was still a bit wiggly in the middle.

Having an actual cake to cover gave me to opportunity to test the ganache.  You can’t really go wrong with the ganache recipe since it’s so simple.  But again, there is way too much in the original recipe.   I reduced this by a quarter in my recipe. Isn’t is beautiful?  And glossy?  I’m salivating just looking at it.

So with out further a due, here’s my improved version of this recipe. I would love to hear your thoughts on it, and whether it was successful for you. Enjoy!

dsc_0033

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Crust

20 chocolate sandwich cookies
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 grams) butter, melted
Cheesecake

26 1/2 ounces (750 grams) cream cheese, softened
3 1/4 ounces (93 grams) melted semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Chocolate Ganache

12 ounces (340 grams) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, hot
PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 300˚F/150˚C.
  2. Place cookies in plastic bag and crush them into a fine crumb using a rolling pin. Alternatively, a food processor can be used to crush the cookies.
  3. Pour the cookie crumbs into a medium bowl with the melted butter. Mix until the crumbs take on the character of a coarse, wet sand.
  4. Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch (22cm) spring pan. Press the crumb firmly into the pan, making sure to coat the bottom evenly. Once the crust has been formed, place it in the refrigerator to firm up.
  5. Add cream cheese, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and sugar to a large bowl and whisk, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until all the ingredients are incorporated. (NOTE: If mixing by hand, it is recommended to microwave the cream cheese before whisking in order to soften it up.) Add vanilla extract and eggs, and continue to whisk until mixture is smooth and glossy.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine heavy cream and powdered sugar. Whisk until the cream develops a mousse-y texture and soft peaks form.
  7. Adding a small amount at a time, carefully fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese batter, being careful not to let the air out of the fluffy mixture. Fold just until incorporated.
  8. Once combined, pour the batter over the prepared cookie crust inside the springform pan. Use a spatula to smooth out the top. Give the pan a slight jiggle to release any large air bubbles that may be trapped in the batter.
  9. Bake at 300˚F/150˚C for 60-70 minutes–checking every 15-20 minutes for cracks. If cracking begins, cover the top with aluminium foil.
  10. Once out of the oven, immediately run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cheesecake to release it from the pan. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely before removing it from the pan.
  11. Prepare the ganache by combining chocolate chips with hot cream. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and ganache is smooth and glossy.  Alternatively use a double boiler to create the ganache.
  12. Pour ganache evenly over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the ganache covered cake for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

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