Baking is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy baking cookies, cakes, breads, pies, muffins, cupcakes, and much more.
Delicious Holiday Cheesecake
October seems to be departing quickly, and November is approaching fast. I am beginning to plan for the upcoming holidays and thinking about which dessert recipes I'd like to make. One of the desserts I'd like to prepare this year is a beautiful chocolate hazelnut cheesecake.
What Are the Basic Ingredients for Cheesecake?
The traditional cheesecake filling is made from cream cheese, whipped cream, eggs, and sugar. However, you can vary the filling by adding flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, lemon, strawberry, blueberry, and many others.
The cheesecake base is typically made from crushed cookies such as graham crackers, sponge cake, or some kind of pastry. For my recipe, I decided to use graham crackers, which I crushed in the food processor and then mixed with melted butter.
Bake vs. No-Bake Recipes
There are tons of cheesecake recipes you can find online, but the real question is whether to bake or not. Personally, I like them both, though my preference is for the kind you bake. But I think you should choose which one you prefer, especially if this is your first time making a cheesecake.
What About the Water Bath?
I decided to try a bain marie technique (water bath) for my cheesecake. A bain marie means that you put the cheesecake in a pan of hot water that protects the delicate cheesecake whilst baking in the oven. This technique helps the cake come out smooth and creamy.
For the base:
- 20 full-sheet graham crackers, crushed into fine crumbs
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking square, cut into chunks
- 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Hershey's)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the optional garnishes:
- Hazelnut spread
- Any chocolate ganache (homemade or store-bought)
- Graham crackers crumble
- Fresh fruits
Step 1: Make the Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Grease a 9-inch round baking pan with baking spray. Line the bottom pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing two of the sides to overlap (refer to the photo below). Set aside.
- In a food processor, add the graham crackers and blend till fine crushed.
- In a large bowl, combine the crushed crackers with melted butter, and mix well to combine.
- Place the mixture into the prepared pan. Press the mixture into the bottom evenly with your hand or spatula.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- Remove the crust from the oven and set it aside on a cooling rack.
Photo Tutorial: Graham Cracker Crust
Step 2: Make the Chocolate Filling
- Add some water to a medium saucepan or pot and bring to a very gentle simmer.
- Place a heat-safe bowl on top, but make sure the bottom is not touching the water.
- Add the chocolate chunks and chocolate chips to the bowl and stir with a silicone spatula or whisk. Continue to stir until smooth and melted.
- Remove the pot from heat, leaving the bowl of filling over the hot water.
- Blend the cream cheese with sugar until completely smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl.
- Add the eggs and egg yolk and mix till combined.
- Add the hazelnut spread and mix till combined.
- Add the heavy cream and mix till combined.
- Add the chocolate filling and mix till combined.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until the mixture is incorporated thoroughly.
Photo Tutorial: Chocolate Filling
Step 3: Assemble and Bake
- Pour the mixture into the baked crust in the prepared pan. Scrape the filling to ensure everything is transferred to the pan. Set aside.
- In the meantime, bring a kettle or saucepan of water to boil.
- Transfer the baking pan to the prepared iron cast pan or roasting pan.
- Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the pan.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the center is set but slightly jiggly.
- Remove the foil. Cool the cheesecake completely in the pan, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours before removing and slicing.
Photo Tutorial: Assemble and Bake
Steps 4: Glaze and Decorate (Optional)
- Spread the chocolate ganache of your choice on top of the cheesecake once it's ready.
- Sprinkle with cookie crumbs or crushed graham crackers.
- Decorate with fresh fruit such as raspberries.
Photo Tutorial: Glaze and Decorate
Baker's Notes and Tips
- Be sure to let your cold ingredients (cream cheese, eggs, and heavy cream) come to room temperature.
- If you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender. Place the crackers in the zip-lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin before putting them in the blender.
- If you do not fancy the water bath, bake the cake at a low temperature.
- Do not over-beat the mixture, especially after eggs have been added to the mixture.
- Do not open the oven before the cheesecake is completely baked! Opening the oven door reduces the temperature of your oven. It might cause the cake to sink or crack.
- Always let the cheesecake come to room temperature before chilling.
- Last but not least, cheesecake should always be stored chilled in the refrigerator. Take out from the fridge when ready for serving.
© 2022 Liza