I’m so tired of reading about what we can’t eat, shouldn’t eat, what will kill us if we eat it, etc., etc. I’m actually getting numb to the Tweets, posts, blogs and headlines about Big Food, Big Factories and Big Portions. Honestly, this Labor Day weekend, I’m going to grill a Big Steak (and no, it won’t be grass fed) — and enjoy every single bite of it.
When I’m finished, I don’t plan to blame anyone for consuming a fabulously-juicy corn-fed T-Bone that (gasp!) didn’t have a skull and cross bone on the label. Why? Well, it’s because I take responsibility for my own health.
Each and every one of you know I practice what I preach: I eat mostly grains, legumes and tons of fruit and vegetables; I enjoy lean protein like turkey, fish and chicken; I follow the Mediterranean diet that my family has been enjoying for centuries, I work out five days a week, and my lab values are those of a teenager. Lately, I’ve been growing my own vegetables and herbs, and I’m a member of a local CSA.
But, every once in a while, I want a nice meaty rib-eye from a cow that was finished in a feed lot. A sacrilege? I don’t think so. Today, I had a diet Coke. Should I be fined or taxed? No way. That was the first diet soda I’ve had in weeks, and I enjoyed it. Last weekend, I created a decadent recipe for a Chocolate Cream Pie that I plan to serve at my friend’s birthday party. Am I going to detox after I eat it? Absolutely not.
What’s my point? There comes a time when we need to stop pointing fingers at who’s making us fat, take a look in the mirror and accept some personal responsibility.
So, for those of you like me who want to relax this weekend and enjoy family, friends, a BBQ, a parade, or welcome a whole new season of football, below is a recipe for you. Is it “healthy?” Well, the Food Police won’t think so, but I love making this pie every once in a while, and eating the occasional slice just makes me happy. That, my friends, is no crime.
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) chocolate wafer crumbs
1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter, melted
12 ounces (340 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
24 ounces (680 grams) (3 – 8 ounces packages) full fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) full fat or light sour cream, room temperature
4 ounces (115 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Chocolate Cheesecake: Butter or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray, a 10 inch (25 cm) spring form pan. Place the spring form pan on a larger baking pan to catch any leakage while the cheesecake is baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) with rack in center of oven.
Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.
For Filling: Melt the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the cream cheese, on medium low speed, until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the melted chocolate and beat until fully incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan and place in the oven.
Bake for about 50 – 55 minutes or until firm yet the center of the cheesecake will still look a little wet and wobbly. Remove from oven and carefully run a knife or spatula around the inside edge of pan to loosen the cheesecake (helps prevent the surface from cracking as it cools). Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours before covering with the ganache.
Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a few minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly and then pour over cheesecake. With an offset spatula or back of a spoon, evenly spread the ganache over the top of the cheesecake. Cover and return to the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This cheesecake tastes best after being refrigerated for at least a day.
Serves 12 – 16 people.
To freeze: Place the cooled cheesecake on a baking pan and freeze, uncovered, until firm. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag. Seal and return to freezer. Can be frozen for several months. Thaw uncovered cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight.
*Adapted from Bonnie Stern’s Desserts