There is enough batter to make one 9-inch round cheesecake. Since I was serving it on Valentine’s Day, I used small individual heart-shaped molds to suit the occasion. This is a great dessert to be served on such a special day. But it would be a shame to wait till the next February – the cheesecake is so delicious it will be appreciated any time. The caramel gives the chocolate cheesecake a new dimension.
Makes about 12 servings.
For the crust:
- 1 ¼ cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs, home-baked  or store-bought
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
For the filling:
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
Prepare the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Cut a parchment circle to fit the bottom of the 9-inch springform pan.
Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir in the melted butter with a fork until well combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
Make the filling, bake the cake:
Maintain the oven temperature.
In a heavy large saucepan over moderate heat, stir together the sugar and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat to moderately high and boil without stirring, occasionally brushing down sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until syrup turns deep amber in color. Don’t undercook the sugar, or you won’t get a distinct caramel flavor in the baked cheesecake. Carefully stir in the cream (the mixture may splatter and briefly harden). Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the caramel is dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth. Stir in the sour cream. Set aside.
Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy, then beat in the chocolate mixture on low speed. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla, beating on low speed until combined and scraping down a bowl between the additions.
Brush the sides of the spring form with melted butter. Wrap the pan tightly in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Pour the filling into the pan. Place the springform in a large roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes about halfway up the springform. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake until softly set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off the oven. Let the cake stand in the oven for another hour. Transfer the springform pan onto the rack and cool. Cover; chill the cake overnight.
Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a plate. Bring to room temperature before serving.