In most respects in my life, I’d say that I am a simple girl. I stick with the basices when it comes to dress, I don’t wear much jewelry or make-up, and I prefer the clean, uncluttered look in my home decorating. But when it comes to baking, I often equate simple with boring. I prefer my baked goods to be extra-decadent and over the top, with lots of inclusions like nuts and chocolate chunks, or toppings like caramels, glazes and ganache. In my desire to jazz up plainer recipes, I often overlook the goodness that can be found in simplicity. If something is well made, with quality ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily need all the extras.
Knowing that a good friend’s birthday was fast approaching, I decided to make her a cake. I owe this friend a lot, as she is the one who got me to join our run club and who convinced me I could do a half-marathon. In essence, she introduced me to an exercise that I love, that I excel at, and that has gotten me in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. She is also the wife of a vascular surgeon at MGH, which means that she is, to all intents and purposes, a single parent much of the time. I knew that if I didn’t take charge of the situation, she would be making or buying her own cake. I just couldn’t have that on my conscience!
So I offered to make her whatever kind of cake her heart desired. The sky’s the limit. And she requested a simple marble cheesecake. Really? Just a marble cheesecake? Nothing with chopped-up candybars and gooey caramel in the middle? No layers of bourbon-scented whipped cream and a ganache topping? Well, okay, you’re the boss. Give the lady what she wants.
So I set about making the best darn marble cheesecake I could. After looking at numerous recipes, I ended up with a compromise between one from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and an old blackberry swirl cheesecake recipe I had made up long, long ago. And then, just to jazz it up a little, I made the crust with chocolate wafer cookies instead of graham crackers. I couldn’t help myself, a graham cracker crust just seemed to plain!
The Results: I’d love to show you the inside of this cake, but since I was giving it away, I couldn’t exactly cut out a piece for pictures. What I can tell you is this: the thing smelled insanely good as I was photographing it. It was hard to resist diving right into it. And I did have a taste test or two of both the white and the chocolate batters, and what I tasted was Good with a capital G. I saw my friend just yesterday and she tells me that they loved it, and that she and her family ate it all in the first two days. And she gave me back my springform pan bottom to prove it!
Blackbottom Marble Cheesecake
18 chocolate wafer cookies
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup whipping cream, divided
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 8oz bricks of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp butter, melted
For the crust, preheat the oven to 350F. Process the wafer cookies in a food processor until fine. Pour crumbs into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle melted butter over crumbs and stir with a rubber spatula until well combined. Press crumb mixture evenly into bottom of pan.
Bake crust until firm, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while making the batter.
In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and 2 tbsp whipping cream together, stirring frequently until smooth, 1-3 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping down beaters and sides of bowl as needed. Beat in sugar, eggs, vanilla and remaining cream until thoroughly incorporated and no lumps remain.
Take 1/4 cup of the batter and stir into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.
Taking care not to disturb the baked crust, brush sides of springform pan with melted butter. Set pan on a baking sheet and pour white batter into the pan. Dab spoonfuls of chocolate batter randomly on top and swirl with a knife or offset spatula until you have the desired marbled effect.
Bake cheesecake until set and center no longer jiggles when shaken, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around edge of cake to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides while cooling. Cool for several hours, running knife around edge a few more times. Carefully remove sides of pan. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.
Now this is a dish I am proud to bring to Potluck Fridays!