Makes 4 Servings
Hands-On Time: 15 Minutes
Total Preparation Time: 35 to 40 Minutes
One 3.5 oz bar bittersweet chocolate
8 oz full-fat or 1/3 less-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
1 t pure vanilla extract
1/4 c plus 2 T sugar
2 t unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter four ½-cup ramekins (or one 2 cup baking dish) and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.
Coarsely chop the chocolate and melt it in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Combine the chocolate with the cream cheese and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until well blended.
Stir together the sugar and flour, add it to the processor, and blend it into the chocolate mixture. Add the egg and pulse until smooth. Divide the batter among the ramekins.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the centers are set. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly before serving.
How do you melt chocolate so that it doesn’t scorch or harden? Chocolate is very sensitive to heat, and it is best to melt it slowly. I like to melt it in the top of a boiler or in a glass or metal bowl set over barely simmering water. Be patient, and when it looks as if much of the chocolate has melted, remove it from the hot water and stir it until it is melted and smooth. You can also set a heatproof glass measuring cup into a pan of hot water and add the chocolate to the cup. Be careful not to let any of the water splash into the cup because, while you can melt chocolate with a liquid as long as you have at least 1 tablespoon of liquid per ounce of chocolate, small amounts of a liquid will cause the chocolate to “seize” and become hard and lumpy. If that does happen, you may be able to save the chocolate by quickly stirring in ½ teaspoon flavorless vegetable oil per ounce of chocolate. You can also melt chocolate in the microwave, but be sure to use 50% power and microwave for short intervals (20 seconds) at a time. Stir, and if you don’t have a turntable in your microwave, turn the dish frequently.
How do you prevent your cheesecake from cracking? My warm chocolate cheesecake doesn’t have a chance to crack because you take it out of the oven and eat it right away. But cracking is a frequent hazard with cold cheesecakes. Usually a cheesecake recipe will tell you to take it out of the oven while the very center is still a bit jiggly. Overcooking will contribute to cracking in the center. When any cheesecake bakes it expands and then when it cools it shrinks; if the cake is stuck to the sides it will pull away from the middle as it shrinks. However, if you loosen the sides with a long thin knife right when you take the cake out of the oven, the cheesecake will shrink in on itself, away from the sides. And you will avoid a crack in the center.