Although it's difficult for me to pick an ultimate favorite when it comes to cheesecake, this one would have to be on my short list for the honor. Anything raspberry is practically irresistible to me anyway, but when it comes with chocolate on top of a creamy vanilla cheesecake my will power is definitely on vacation. As beautiful as it is delicious, this cheesecake is a real occasion dessert.
A word about baking a cheesecake in a bain marie before starting the recipe. A bain marie is simply a water bath that buffers the direct heat from the sides and bottom of the baking pan to more evenly bake the cheesecake from the sides to the center.
I bake my cheesecakes in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan that has the bottom and sides wrapped in multiple layers of wide heavy duty aluminum foil which forms a sort of boat that the cheesecake pan sits in. The roll of aluminum foil that I use is about 16 inches wide. I use at least 4 layers of foil to make sure that no water leaks in and ruins the crust of my cheesecake. The aluminum foil wrapped pan is then placed inside a larger baking pan; I use a 12 inch cake pan. Boiling water is then poured into the larger pan filling it from 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the top.
I find it best to pour the boiling water into the pan after it is placed on the rack in the oven as you are less likely to splash water onto the cheesecake or inside the aluminum foil. I reuse the aluminum foil for several future cheesecakes, adding a couple of layers to it each time just to be safe.
In a small bowl, combine:
1 & 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
Press into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 or 10 inch springform pan. (Grease bottom only!) Alternatively you can line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper which will help to release the cheesecake from the pan.
3 eight ounce packages ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
Add, one at a time
beating well after each addition. Add
3 tsp vanilla extract
Finally blend in
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
Pour over the prepared base and bake in a bain marie at 325 degrees F for 50 minutes to an hour. The cheesecake should just be beginning to lightly brown at the edges (although it need not brown at all to be done) and the surface of the cheesecake should lose any shine when the cake is properly baked. It can still be slightly wobbly just at the center at this point.
Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp knife completely around the edge of the pan. This will allow for the cheesecake to shrink as it cools and hopefully not crack (but who cares if it does? I am never bothered by a crack or two in the surface) Allow the cheesecake to cool thoroughly on a wire rack at room temperature. (NOT in the fridge).
Top with fresh raspberries or raspberry compote and a drizzle of chocolate ganache. Another serving suggestion is to use fresh raspberries and a raspberry sauce that can be made the same way as the raspberry compote except prepared to a thinner consistency and run it through a metal sieve to remove the seeds. The sauce can then be poured over the raspberries before drizzling the ganache as shown in the photo below.
In a heavy bottomed pot, scald but do not boil
¼ cup whipping cream.
Then melt in on low heat
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Pour over cooled cake or to create Ganache lace, cool slightly and spoon into piping bag fitted with a number 3 tip. Pipe over the entire cake in a circular, overlapping swirling pattern, repeating coverage all over the cake until all Ganache glaze is used. Garnish with fresh raspberries.
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cold water
1 ½ tsp corn starch
Bring the raspberries and sugar to a gentle boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the boiling raspberries stirring constantly until thickened. Simmer for an additional minute, remove from heat and allow the compote to cool to room temperature.