Playing With My Food ~
A journal about food, thought, travel, and life; by Chef & Raconteur Chaz French.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce

This is the one that started it all with the cheesecakes. It began it’s life as as a plain cheesecake recipe stolen borrowed from Martha Stewart. I made some variations and settled on this as being the best, all the other flavors that I make came from this base.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce

Makes 1 nine inch cake

8T unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups Honey Graham Cracker Crumbs (approx 13 whole honey grahams)
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 pounds cream cheese at room temp.
1 vanilla bean split (If you can’t get a vanilla bean double the extract to 2T.)
1T vanilla extract
4 large eggs at room temp.
4T heavy cream
1/2t cinnamon
6oz Ghiradelli chocolate chips
1/8t cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
8oz Creme Fraiche (sour cream can be substituted)

Oven Rack Settings: 1 rack lowest position 1 rack middle position
Stand Mixer (Hand is doable but it takes a long time and strong arms)
Large mixing bowl (at least 6 qt)
Measuring spoons & cups
9 inch spring form pan.
Cookie pan large enough to hold spring form pan
Small baking dish filled with water
Small mixing bowl 1qt (or double boiler for chocolate)
Silicone or rubber spatula
Small paring (or other small non-serrated) knife
Food processor (or a lot of patience crushing those crackers)
Cooling rack
Offset spatula

While this recipe is simple, it is a lot of work and requires about 3 hours from start to finish. NOT Including the time it takes the cheese and eggs to get to room temp and this does NOT include cooling time.

Preheat oven to 350.

Place honey graham crackers, 1/4c sugar and the cinnamon into the food processor and blitz to dust. Add 6T of the butter and blitz again, about 30 seconds until you have crumbs.

Pour this mixtures into the pan and press down with your knuckles so the pan is fully covered on the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides and well pressed.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until set. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

Lower oven temp to 275.

Place 1 package of cream cheese in the large mixing bowl (or your stand mixer bowl) along with about 1/4 of the remaining cup of sugar, beat until well combined, add in about of the creme fraiche (or sour cream) and beat until whipped well. Make certain you scrape down the bowl from time to time while doing this.

Repeat this process until all packages of cream cheese, the sugar and the creme fraiche are incorporated and well whipped (whipping is important this is a light fluffy cheesecake not a dense NY one).

At this point scape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to mixture whip to incorporate, add the vanilla extract, add the salt. Slowly add the eggs a little at time while continuing to mix & scrape the bowl. Once all of this has been added whip another minute or two and then pour into the spring form pan.

Open oven, on lowest rack set the baking dish with the water. On the middle rack place the cookie sheet and set the filled spring form pan in it. Close the oven and bake at 275 for about 1 hour 45 minutes. The edges should be set but the center should still be wiggly (like jello) when done cooking. There may be some cracks around the edges up to 3/4 of an inch. Don’t worry these will settle beautifully.

Place cake on cooling rack, allow to cool for 30-45 minutes then go around edges with the offset spatula (or a thin knife) to loosen. Allow to continue cooling for 3 more hours.

Refrigerate to chill.

Chocolate sauce:
Place heavy cream, cayenne, chocolate chips and remaining 2T butter in a double boiler and slowly cook stirring constantly. (You can do this in a bowl in the microwave in 20 second increments). Slice cake into 16 slices and pour chocolate sauce over individual servings. A note about the cayenne. 1/8t in 6oz of chocolate is a 300 to 1 ratio, you wont feel heat, but you’ll notice something a Je ne sais quoi.