1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for preparing pan
Graham Cracker and Pecan Cookie Crust:
2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs (about 16 full graham cracker sheets)
½ cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup miniature marshmallows
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one 10 inch round cheesecake pan or springform pan with 3-inch sides; use a pastry brush to lightly butter the pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
Graham Cracker and Pecan Cookie Crust:
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine Graham Cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar, and melted butter. Stir until thoroughly mixed and mixture is crumbly. Add the beaten egg whites and stir until thoroughly mixed.
- Pour the crumb mixture into the springform pan. Using the back of a large spoon or the flat bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass, press the crumb mixture firmly and evenly across the bottom of the pan and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet; bake 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool.
- In top of a double boiler over hot water, combine the semisweet chocolate, butter, and sugar, stir and heat until chocolate and butter is melted. Or, heat in a microwave-safe bowl, use 50% power and stir frequently just until the chocolate is melted; do not overheat as chocolate will burn easily. Set aside to cool slightly. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the hot water, the upper pan should not touch the water. See Melting Chocolate – How to Melt Chocolate.
- Remove pan from heat, add eggs and vanilla and stir until thoroughly combined. Add flour and stir just until mixed.
- Pour brownie batter over cooled cookie crust. Place the pan on a baking sheet; bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool.
- When cooled, wrap bottom and sides of pan in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil to prepare for the bain marie water bath. The foil is to prevent any water from seeping into the cheesecake through the pan seams.
- Reduce oven to 300 degrees F.
- In top of a double boiler over hot water, combine the semisweet chocolate, cocoa, and butter, stir and heat until chocolate and butter is melted. Or, heat in a microwave-safe bowl, use 50% power and stir frequently just until the chocolate is melted; do not overheat as chocolate will burn easily. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and sugar; mix on medium low speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly and there are no lumps.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla; beat until mixed. Add the melted chocolate mixture; continue beating on medium low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
- Add the eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions. Tip: crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the cheese mixture.
Tip: Do not overbeat the cheesecake batter. Blend the ingredients quickly to add as few air bubbles as possible. The ingredients must be well blended, but excessive beating creates too many air pockets which can cause the cheesecake to puff up too much during baking, and then crack during the cooling process.
- Let the filling rest about 5 minutes to allow air bubbles to rise to the surface.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil to use for the bain marie water bath.
- Pour the cheesecake filling over the brownie layer.
- Set the foil wrapped springform pan in a larger pan or roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan, and close the oven door. Bake 2½ to 3 hours.
Tip: The Cheesecake is done when the edges are set but the center 2 to 3 inches are still a pool of liquid batter. The cake should look as though it has puffed a little and just barely beginning to brown. The center will still be soft and jiggly when the pan is lightly jarred or tapped with a spoon.
- Remove from oven, place springform pan on a wire cooling rack to cool. Immediately run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, gently pressing into the side of the pan to avoid gouging the cake. This allows the cake to contract away from the sides of the pan as it cools, helping to prevent cracks.
- When cheesecake is completely cooled, cover the pan and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours before serving. Try to avoid having the covering touch the top of the cheesecake as this may mar the surface.
- Place the chopped chocolate and sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a small heavy saucepan over medium low heat, heat the cream until it is hot and just beginning to steam. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate and sugar, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. Add corn syrup, stirring until completely mixed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool about 20 minutes or until starting to cool and thicken.
- Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the chocolate topping to use with the garnish, and pour the remainder over center of cheesecake; use a small offset spatula to spread the chocolate to the edges, letting some of the topping drip down the sides of the cheesecake.
- Sprinkle the marshmallows over the chocolate topping, and then drizzle the reserved chocolate topping over the marshmallows. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake until the topping is set, 20 to 30 minutes.
Adapted From: Taste of the South Magazine, Christmas Cooking Southern Style, 2007