Let the eggs and cream cheese come to room temperature before making this cheesecake. You will also need make this cake 24 hours before you want to serve it to allow adequate time to chill, and frankly, we all need a bit more chill time.
For the crust:
- 8 chocolate graham crackers, crushed (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1/3 cup (66 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup (250 g) sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
For the ganache topping:
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup (optional)
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2 Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal s-blade attachment, add the graham crackers. Pulse until they are ground fine like sand.
Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Pulse 2 or 3 times until just combined. Pour melted butter around the bowl in a circle, pulse 4 or 5 times combine it. The mixture should clump a little bit, but may still look a little dry.
Dump the mixture into the bottom of your ungreased springform pan. Use your fingers or the underside of a cup to press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, making it as even as possible.
Place the crust in the oven and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
3 Reduce the oven temp and melt the chocolate: Once the crust has baked, reduce the oven to 300°F.
In a medium-sized, heavy-bottom saucepan set over low heat, combine the chopped chocolate and 1/3 cup heavy cream. Stir continuously, for about 10 minutes. Once melted, remove from heat, and set aside. You will fold it into your filling later.
4 Make the cheesecake filling: In a small bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, gently beat the eggs, vanilla extract, and salt together with a fork. Set it aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer set to low and a large bowl), add the cream cheese. Beat the cream cheese on low or stir speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Beat again on low for about 1 minute. With the stand mixer still on low, slowly add the sugar and two tablespoons cocoa powder. Stop the mixer. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Beat for another minute or two until light and fluffy.
With the mixture still on low, add the egg mixture, 1/3 at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Pour the cooled, melted chocolate into the bowl of the stand mixer and (you guessed it!) beat on low for about a minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat on low again for about 30 seconds, or until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Alternatively, you can fold in the chocolate in using a spatula.
5 Prepare the water bath and add the filling: Wrap the outside of the your springform pan in 3 layers of aluminum foil. Be careful not to tear or puncture the foil. Bring the foil all the way up the sides. Set it inside a roasting pan or a large Dutch oven.
Pour the filling into springform pan.
Fill the roasting pan with warm water about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. (I usually just heat it in a tea kettle.) Be careful not to splash any water into the cheesecake pan or inside the foil.
6 Bake the cheesecake: Put the pan in the oven and bake until the cheesecake is just barely set in the center, 55-65 minutes. It will still jiggle slightly, but shouldn’t slosh in the center when moved.
7 Let it cool, then chill: Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Let the cake cool in the water bath for about an hour. Then remove it from the water bath and transfer it to a cooling rack on the counter for another hour. Finally, keep the cake in the springform pan, and let it chill, uncovered overnight in the fridge.
8 Make the ganache: Place chopped chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, corn syrup, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
Pour the heated cream over the chopped chocolate. Don’t stir. Let sit for 5 minutes, then add the vanilla. Use a spatula and stir gently to combine. Let the ganache cool at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the cheesecake.
9 Finish the cake: The ganache is probably too thick to pour. Simply warm it in the microwave for 15-second intervals (or more depending on how powerful your microwave is) until it’s pourable. (Be careful, though – chocolate can burn quickly in a microwave.) Stir it gently.
Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Pour about half of the ganache over the top, just until it drips down a little on the sides. You probably won’t use all of the ganache. Save the rest to add to hot milk for the most luxurious hot cocoa or freeze it in scoopfuls for when you need a little chocolate fix.
10 Serve the cake: Serve the cake with sliced strawberries (if you wish), slice, and enjoy!