1½ C. very finely crushed chocolate cookie crumbs (about 30 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
3 T. granulated sugar
½ t. ground cinnamon (optional)
¼ C. unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE FILLING:
½ C. sour cream
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. instant coffee granules or espresso powder
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 T. natural, unsweetened cocoa powder sifted if lumpy
¼ t. table salt
1¼ C. granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
(C.=cup ; T.=tablespoon ; t.=teaspoon)
Make the crust: Heat the oven to 400ºF. In a medium bowl stir together the cookie crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon (if using) until blended.
Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended and the crumbs are evenly moist.
Dump the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan (I use a straight-sided juice glass to get the corners and sides, but any flat-bottomed implement will do, or even your fingers covered in plastic wrap). Bake for 10 minutes and set on a wire rack to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300ºF.
Make the filling and bake: Mix the sour cream, vanilla, and coffee granules in a small bowl. Set aside and stir occasionally until the coffee dissolves.
Carefully melt the chocolate (double-boiler, or I just use a pan on the stovetop set to Low). Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, cocoa powder, and salt until very smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle frequently (and with each subsequent addition). Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth. Scrape the cooled chocolate into the bowl; beat until blended. Beat in the sour cream mixture until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended. (Don’t over-beat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.) Pour the filling over the cooled crust, spread evenly, and smooth the top. Bake at 300ºF until the center barely jiggles when nudged; 50 to 60 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed, with a few little cracks around the edge. Let cool to room temperature on a rack and then refrigerate until well chilled, at least a few hours, or overnight for the best texture and flavor.
To serve: Unclasp the pan’s ring, remove it, and run a long, flat spatula under the bottom crust. Carefully work the spatula along the full bottom of the crust, then slide the entire cake onto a flat serving plate. To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut into slices, heating and wiping the knife as needed (the “hot knife through butter” metaphor works literally here.)
This is a very rich, dense cake. Chocoholics will levitate. If, however, it’s too rich for your or your guests’ comfort, serve it with fresh raspberries or strawberries, a simple sauce made from either of these berries, or even a small dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche.
Modified slightly from a recipe in the March/April 2003 issue of Fine Cooking.