As evidenced by the December-long culinary dedication of my blog to The Nightmare Before Christmas, I am quite the fan of The King of Halloween's burgeoning relationship with Sally the Rag Doll in Tim Burton's classic holiday film. To me, one of the most iconic scenes is Jack Skellington's soliloquy in the graveyard as he makes his way down the hill that uncurls beneath his feet (and upon which the couple share their first kiss at the end of the movie), while a concerned Sally secretly bears witness to his sorrow. My Valentine's day nod to this Halloween Town romance is a midnight-black chocolate cheesecake, topped with melted chocolate and a carved-candy hill. The deadly secret to the success of this cake is the pulsed chocolate wafer cookie crust, and the darling, heart-shaped result is "simply meant to be."
I got the following cheesecake recipe from my mother, who has been using it for over 35 years!
30 chocolate wafers, crushed
5 T. melted butter
1 t. cinnamon
3 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, at room temperature
18-oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 c. strong black coffee
6 eggs, separated
1 c. sugar
2 T. black currant liqueur (Cassis)
1/4 t. salt
(to garnish: additional cream and chocolate for making a ganache; optional whipped cream, chocolate curls and/or berries to serve)
Add melted butter and cinnamon to crushed wafers and pat then press into greased bottom of 10-inch springform pan; set aside.
Melt chocolate over very low heat in coffee. While melting, beat egg yolks until sticky in mixing bowl; add 2/3 cup sugar and beat until pale yellow and thickened. Gradually beat in cream cheese until mixture looks like whipped butter (6-10 minutes). Beat in liqueur and salt.
In another bowl, beat egg whites until foamy and when soft peaks form add remaining 1/3 c. sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Beat until glossy but not stiff; set aside. With mixer on low speed, beat melted, cooled chocolate/coffee into cream cheese mixture. Then gently fold in whipped egg whites.
Pour into springform pan and bake in middle of preheated 350 degree oven for approximately one hour. The cake top will crack as it bakes. Turn off heat and leave cake in oven until oven is cold -- (the cake will sink as it cools). Refrigerate overnight.
Pour cooled ganache over finished cake and re-refrigerate until hardened. Use knife dipped in warm water to help unmold from the sides of the springform pan. Garnish whole cake or individual slices as desired.