One of the interesting things about writing a *mostly* food blog is that I end up not wanting to make dishes more than once. Case-in-point: Dad's birthday yesterday. I contemplated making both a Lemon Meringue Pie and a Key Lime Cheesecake, as he has raved about both in the past. But if I repeated, there would be no new blog post to create. So I was challenged to think of a new dessert that Dad would enjoy, I had the ability and time to make, and that I had not made previously.
As I was pondering what to create, I knew that I should pick something that had a bite to it; Dad loves tangy! I thought about what citrus options were out there that I hadn't used before and landed on the blood orange. With more bite than a traditional orange, I asked Jason to pick up a couple from Harris Teeter, along with the other necessary ingredients for a cheesecake. (I settled on cheesecake not only because Dad loves it, but because they can be made ahead of time AND they are excellent as a frozen leftover.) As I began to make it, I decided to incorporate chocolate into the crust. When that worked, I also found a use for the super-dark chocolate bar sitting in my pantry that was supposed to go to Grandpa for Christmas (oops!).
In addition to being excited that this cheesecake actually turned out to be delicious, I am also excited because I finally figured out how to bake the cheesecake so that I didn't have to serve it on the springform pan bottom. The solution is really pretty simple: Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper. Once the cheesecake is cool, this allows you to carefully lift the cheesecake and place it on a serving plate. To remove the parchment paper, simply use a spatula to lift one side of the cheesecake and carefully slide the parchment paper from underneath. Repeat from several angles to completely remove.
So last night Dad came to the house and enjoyed a Mellow Mushroom pizza dinner followed by birthday cheesecake to celebrate his sixty-third year on Earth.
Blood Orange + Chocolate Cheesecake
Preheat oven 500º
In a food processor, combine:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pulse together until all ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the sides and pulse an additional ten seconds. Pour into a 9" springform pan lined with parchment paper. Spread crumbs evenly across the bottom, using the back of a spoon to firmly pack. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
In a large electric mixing bowl, add:
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 8 ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
Using the paddle attachment, mix at moderate speed for thirty seconds.
One at a time, add:
4 egg yolks
Scrape down sides of bowl after each addition.
After the last egg yolk addition, keep the mixer on low while slowly adding:
2/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice [2 medium blood oranges]
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced blood orange zest
Mix until just incorporated.
Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the custard and immediately pour the rest of the custard into the lined springform pan.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt:
3 ounces super dark chocolate [I used most of a Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie 86% cocoa bar]*
Working quickly, add 1 tablespoon sugar and the reserved custard to the chocolate and thoroughly mix together. Place large dollops (4-6) of the chocolate custard on top of the custard already in the springform pan. Use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate custard into the non-chocolate custard.**
*Feel free to substitute bittersweet chocolate and skip the extra sugar
**Because the chocolate custard is thick, it isn't going to spread super-easily. That is okay!
Bake at 500º for 15 minutes. Cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil to keep the top from getting too brown.
Reduce heat to 200º and bake for 65 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare topping.
In a small bowl, combine:
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon minced blood orange zest
After cheesecake has cooked 55 minutes, remove from the oven and evenly spread the sour cream mixture over top of the cheesecake. Place back in the oven for the final 10 minutes.
Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door ajar. Let the cheesecake sit for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before refrigerating.
Garnish with cocoa powder and coarsely chopped dark chocolate (if I could leave the house easily, I would have garnished each piece with an orange chocolate Ghirardelli square).