Every time BF mentioned that his favorite dessert in the world was cheesecake I rolled my eyes and replied in a quiescent voice that yes, I understood the hint. He wanted me to make him cheesecake. I, in response, said nothing and usually swept the matter under the conversation like hiding dust beneath the area rug in hopes we could move on. I had no interest in making cheesecake or learning how to make cheesecake.
It was then my sad mistake to ask BF when he was away at training what he wanted me to make for dinner the night he got back. I planned to make something fun and somewhat extravagant and in my alimentary daydream I forgot to mind my filter. "I'll cook whatever dessert you want," I said without hesitation.
"Cheesecake," BF replied. He didn't miss a beat and his tone didn't belie any smile or humor. It was an honest response that was impossible to ignore or push aside.
"Oh... okay," a pause, "Cheesecake it is." I knew he couldn't see my trying to smile over the phone but he didn't need to to know that my good humor was a lie.
So the stars had aligned and karma had struck me down. I would now have to learn to make a cheesecake.
It's not that I necessarily have anything against cheesecake. I don't. It's just that it's never been at the top of my list of favorite things to eat. Most cheesecakes I try are far too rich, or loaded with so much chocolate fudge, caramel swirled, pistachio dusted, Butterfinger crust hoohaw that it goes against my general preference for dessert with focused simplicity.
Still, I ended up putting it off after he arrived. We went out instead. It wasn't a planned diversion, it was just that we both had had a long day and after amusing ourselves for a while after his return neither of us had the energy to cook. So out we went for Mexican food. I had escaped my commitment.
A few days later BF reminded me of my promise and having committed to the task - I had given my word after all - we went (me begrudgingly) to the market to gather ingredients for a simple chocolate chunk cheesecake. Yes, it may not be a paragon of simplicity, but there's something to be said for the combination of cream cheese and chocolate and it was what BF wanted. I did dress it up with a vanilla bean too. How could I not?
The prep was easy though time consuming; each stage of the preparation required the cheesecake to sit and cool for a length of time, the longest being five hours. Still, as they say, patience is a virtue.
The next day we tasted the result.
Readers, consider me a convert to the church of cheesecake.
Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake
Adapted from The Essence of Chocolate
2 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
4 oz of butter (one stick)
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups of sour cream, room temperature
1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
10 ounces of chocolate chopped into pieces
8-inch spring form pan
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 375F. Melt the butter and mix with the graham cracker crumbs. Press into the bottom and at least halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, then bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Lower the heat to 350F.
For the filling:
1. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or with a large bowl and a hand mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar, salt for 2 minutes on medium until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add the eggs and beat for 2 minutes. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the sour cream and vanilla seeds to the batter and beat again for 3 minutes, stopping halfway through to scrape down the sides. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan; even the batter out and then mound it up in the middle a bit. The batter will be at the very rim of the pan and you will think that it will rise and spill over. It won't. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Turn off the heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for five hours or overnight.
5. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust and cheesecake. Remove the springform ring and carefully move the cake to a serving platter. Serve or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.