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Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Category: Dessert
Source: Kristen J. Gough
Ingredients: Crust
9 oz. chocolate wafers
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (chips are fine)
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup raspberry jam
2 packages cream cheese (make sure the cheese is at room temperature)
3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Directions: Crust
In a food processor, grind up the chocolate wafers (I also add just a touch of salt). I use Pepperidge Farms chocolate goldfish as the base for my crust – they're not overly sweet like Oreos with cream filling. Add the melted butter to the crushed cookies. Here's the tricky part. You'll need a 9-inch springform pan. Surround the outside of the pan with aluminum foil (I'll explain more on this later.) Cut a round piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom part of the pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray then insert the paper and spray again. Press the cookie crumbs into the pan and half way up the sides with your fingers (I've tried this with spoons, but frankly, fingers are best). Put the crust into the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the over to 325 degrees. In a large, glass measuring bowl, melt the chocolate and the heavy cream together in the microwave. Melt the two slowly (I usually start at half the power level for around two minutes). When the chips start to lose their shape, finish the melting process by stirring vigorously. Add the jam to the chocolate mixture, stir and let it cool about 10 minutes.

In another large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and the sugar. It's key to have the cream cheese at room temperature (eggs, too!). Beat the sugar and cream cheese for at least 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Now, add the vanilla and the chocolate-raspberry mixture. Beat all together for at least five minutes (set a timer).

Here's another tricky part: creating a water bath for your cheesecake. This keeps your cheesecake dense and smooth instead of dry. You'll need a large, glass baking dish. I wish I had a larger one, but my biggest is 9-by-11 inches, so I have to improvise. (I also add a larger cookie-baking pan under the casserole dish to make it easier to get it into and out of the oven.) I make several aluminum balls and place them in the center of the baking dish. Next, gently press the springform pan into the casserole dish. Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust, making sure that your aluminum balls stay in place and keep your pan level. Add about a half inch of water to the bottom of the casserole dish (not into your cheesecake!). Carefully put the whole contraption into the preheated oven.

Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the cheesecake just jiggles in the center. Once it's set, turn off the oven and leave the door open. Wait one hour and then remove. Carefully pull it out of the water bath. Gently release the springform mechanism, but don't remove it. Use a butter knife to separate the crust from the pan (this will ensure that the top doesn't crack). Put your cheesecake into the fridge for at least one day before serving.

If you're taking this dessert to a party, cut it at home in thin slices - there's nothing worse than your cheesecake getting hacked to pieces in the rush to serve dessert. If I'm serving the cheesecake at home, I put one slice on the plate, add a dollop of fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa. If you have fresh raspberries or mangos, add a few of those, too.

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