Saturday, January 23, 2010

S'mores Cheesecake

My mother often accuses me of telling her that recipes are easy when they are not.

Like these and these, which I made as Christmas gifts for our ward friends. (And they were easy, if you'll believe me, and I hope you do!)

When I spotted this recipe this past summer, I thought instantly of my cheesecake-loving brother, and declared I would make it for his birthday in January.

Since my brother's birthday often coincides with Sundance and he is a big film buff, we had planned on celebrating as a family the week after his birthday and I was all prepared to tackle the mighty cheesecake then... until his girlfriend called to tell us that she was coming in from Baltimore the weekend before his birthday instead of the weekend of (my brother having much occupied his birthday weekend with many Sundance viewings) and we pushed the festivities up a week or two.

Head held high, I marched to the store to buy supplies and readied myself for the impending battle. The recipe has three parts: crust, cheesecake filling, and marshmallow topping. The cheesecake and crust had to be cooked up the night before and refrigerated overnight, and there had to be adequate time for the marshmallow topping to cool after I made it the next day.


I felt a little like I was on Iron Chef, trying to beat the clock to get the cheesecake topping cooling before church. And if I had been on Iron Chef, that topping would have disqualified me because it made me miss the first hour -- but the cheesecake was so good, I think I still could have won sans marshmallow.

So, friends, I will not tell you this was easy, but I will tell you that it was scrumptious and rich. And I will also tell you that I loved it, and that is not my usual reaction to desserts of the cheesecake variety.

For your consideration, here's the recipe. I prefer dark chocolate, so I substituted good quilaity 70% dark chocolate for the milk chocolate in the recipe. My mom said it would have tasted more s'more-y if I had used milk, but I think if would have been too sweet. And if the topping intimidates you too much, the cheesecake stands up perfectly on its own.

S'mores Cheesecake
adapted from Epicurious

1 1/2 cups (roughly 9 crackers or one sleeve, finely crushed) graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

9 oz. high-quality chocolate, chopped
2, 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
3 large eggs 

1 c. sugar
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
12 large marshmallows, cut into quarters with wet kitchen scissors
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add melted butter, and stir until well combined. Press into bottom of 9' springform pan. Bake 12 minutes to set. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

For filling:
Melt chocolate in a double boiler set over barely simmering water until smooth. Remove from over water and let cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
Using a food processor or mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, and salt, and blend until smooth. Continue to mix while adding cream, then add melted chocolate, and then add eggs 1 at a time, blending and scraping down sides after each addition until mixture is smooth. Pour batter over crust in pan.
Bake until outer edge is slightly puffed and cake is barely set in center (center will look shiny and move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack. Run small sharp knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Chill uncovered until cold (8 hours or overnight).

**I put a pyrex full of water on the rack below my cheesecake just to be sure it wouldn't crack. I would do it again, as this was the creamiest cheesecake I've ever had!

For topping:
Whisk sugar, egg whites, water, cream of tartar, and salt to blend in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water; whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens and is hot to touch, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from over water and stir in marshmallows (keep water simmering in saucepan). Let stand until marshmallows soften, about 3 minutes. Set bowl with mixture over simmering water again; using hand held electric mixer, beat until stiff shiny peaks form, about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
Scrape topping onto cheesecake. Using offset metal spatula, spread topping to edges of cake, swirling decoratively. Let stand until set, about 15 minutes.
Using kitchen torch, lightly brown topping in spots. (Or preheat broiler; place cake at least 4 inches from heat source and broil just until topping is lightly browned in spots, watching closely to avoid burning, about 2 minutes.) Chill cake until cold.
Slice and serve!

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