#header-inner {background-position: center !important; width: 100% !important;}

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chocolate Almond Layered Cheesecake

When we were making the mini truffle tarts, Maggie unwrapped the Ghirardelli chocolate bar and noticed this recipe for Chocolate Almond Layered Cheesecake. We both decided the cheesecake was a must-make (our mutual love for amaretto weighing in on the decision) and I clipped the chocolate wrapper in the recipe stand that sits on my countertop. For a few weeks, the recipe glared at me each time I cooked, silently taunting me with promises of vanilla wafer crusts and two layers of cheesecake. When I knew I needed a Mother's Day dessert that could be made ahead of time and I realized this recipe contained my mom's only request--chocolate--I set out to make it.

With the recipe practically memorized after glancing at it so many times in my kitchen, it came together quite easily. There are a number of steps, but each is simple. While making it, I realized this was my first attempt at a full-sized cheesecake. I've made mini cheesecakes, cheesecake cookies, and the Reese's cheesecake bars (still dreaming about those!), but this was something new! I said a little prayer when I put it in the oven, hoping it wouldn't emerge an hour later with a giant crack down the middle...and my prayer was answered!

The almond flavor didn't come through nearly as strongly as I had anticipated (I did notice it more when I ate a piece later in the week), but the cheesecake was delicious nonetheless. I recommend high-quality chocolate, like Ghirardelli, for this recipe, because you will absolutely notice that! My favorite part was probably the almond vanilla wafer crust...I almost wish I had made 1 1/2 times the crust recipe so it had been a bit thicker. It was plenty thick, but if you're a crust lover, you may want a little extra. I plan to use that crust for other desserts!

With a full-sized cheesecake behind me, I'm ready to try some other variations. I'm looking for inspiration...what is your favorite cheesecake flavor?

One Year Ago: Babe Ruth Bars

Chocolate Almond Layered Cheesecake
from Ghirardelli

-8 oz. 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
-2/3 cup almonds, finely chopped
-1 1/4 cups vanilla wafers, finely crushed
-1/3 cup butter, melted
-8 oz. cream cheese, softened
-1 cup sugar
-3 eggs
-1 cup sour cream
-1/4 cup almond-flavored liqueur
-1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Place almonds on a baking sheet and toast in preheated oven (3-4 minutes). Once almonds are cool, place in a food processor and process til finely ground.
2. Mix wafer crumbs, almonds, and butter in a small bowl, mixing well. Press into the bottom and up the sides (1 1/2 inches) of the prepared springform pan. Bake for 8 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Melt chocolate (broken into 1-inch pieces) in a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water. Stir occasionally until smooth and melted. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on low until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, beating until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.
4. With mixer on low, add sour cream, liqueur, and salt, beating just until smooth. Divide batter in half, adding the melted chocolate to one half. Pour the chocolate batter over the crust, spreading until even. Carefully spoon the plain batter over the chocolate batter.
5. Place pan in the oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 325F. Bake 50-60 minutes, until center is just set. Turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven, with the door closed, for an additional 30 minutes. Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely. Chill for at least 8 hours, or overnight, before serving. (Store covered in the refrigerator)