J turned the big 3-1 on Wednesday.  So first his birthday I made him the meal of his choice, with cheesecake for dessert.

I made him this Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken stuffed w/ Mozzarella and Basil, and some Mushroom Risotto.

I found this recipe from Emeril for New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake. Chocolate is what he wanted, and this recipe looked fairly simple, so I decided to give it a shot.

Now, as you can probably tell from my blog, I’m not a baker.  I don’t like to have to measure and be precise – I’m more of a ‘throw it in til it looks good’ kind of cook. 🙂  So I was pretty nervous about making this.  But, I was assured by many that it’s actually pretty easy.  I got a lot of great tips, and gave it a shot.

You’ll notice that I did cook this in a water bath, even though it wasn’t called for in the recipe.  That’s because one of my tips was to use one, regardless of what the recipe says.  So I did.

I also allowed this to cool completely in the oven for about 2 hours, before I took it out and loosened it from the sides of the pan, and then put it into the refrigerator.  Another tip. 🙂

So – the verdict!  It’s not pretty, but it tastes great!  J loved it, and actually helped himself to a second slice. 🙂  The crust did stick a bit to the pan – I should’ve done the parchment paper on the bottom to make it easier to get off.  But – for my first time, I think I did okay. 🙂


Ingredients:
1 1/2 c chocolate wafer crumbs (couldn’t find chocolate, so I used vanilla)
1 c plus 3 T sugar
3 T unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 (8 ou) packages cream cheese, softened at room temp
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and reserved
3 T ap flour
3 eggs
1 c sour cream
8 ou melted semisweet chocolate, cooled slightly
Whipped cream, fresh berries, mint sprigs for garnish (optional) (I used whipped cream and fresh blueberries)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 (if using silver springform pan), or 325 (if using dark nonstick springform pan).

Lightly grease bottom and sides of springform pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the wafer crumbs, butter and 3 T sugar.  Mix well.  Press onto the bottom of the springform pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, cup of sugar, vanilla extra and vanilla bean seeds and mix until light and creamy.

Add flour and beat until smooth.

Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and mix well.

Add eggs one at a time and mix on a low speed.  Mix after each addition until just blended.  Do not overmix the eggs.

Pour batter into the prepared pan.  For the water bath – boil about 6-8 cups of water.  Wrap the springform pan in aluminum foil so that water cannot seep in.

Place springform pan in a large pan, such as a roasting pan.  Slowly and carefully pour water into roasting pan (careful not to splash into the cheesecake) about halfway up the springform pan.

Place in oven and cook for about 1 hour – 1 hour 10 minutes.  The center will be almost set.  Do not open the oven while the cheesecake cooks, trust the cooking time!

Leave cheesecake in oven for about 2 hours, with the oven door cracked, to allow the cake to cool completely.

Use a sharp knife around the rim of the pan to loosen cheesecake from the sides.  You can remove from the springform pan now if you’d like, but I just covered it and placed it in the refrigerator.

Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. It can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated before serving.  Will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Slice and serve with garnishes if desired.

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