Last month, I made a chocolate cheesecake for my friend Samantha's birthday. I adapted an Emeril recipe that I found on foodnetwork.com (a go-to for recipe ideas!).
Sadly, I broke my hand mixer while beating the cream cheese smooth, so that was the last cheesecake I have made in a while! That mixer lasted for a good long time, though! It was threatening to break when my mom gave it to me in college (so she could get a new one), but it was still operational, so I kept using it until it just didn't work...which turned out to be 4 years later!
This cheesecake was a big hit with my friends, and it's really easy to make as long as you have some key kitchn paraphernalia: a hand mixer and a springform pan. I would not recommend mixing a cheesecake batter by hand, although it certain is possible to achieve a delicious result. However, it is quite difficult to get the lumps out of the cream cheese, and your arm will get really tired really fast. It's better to invest in a cheap hand mixer (I believe you can get one at convenience stores, grocery stores, department stores, and kitchen stores for prices starting at around $8).
Here is my version of Emeril's New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake
2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1 cup, plus 1 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
2-1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 cup low-fat sour cream
8 oz semisweet chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 350˚F if using a silver springform pan or 325˚F if using a dark nonstick springform pan.
Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan with butter or non-stick spray. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, 1 TBSP of sugar, and the melted butter. Mix well with a fork until the mixture is well blended. Using your hands, press all of the mixture into the bottom and one inch up the sides of the greased springform pan. If the mixture won't stick together when you press it firmly, try adding a little more melted butter until it sticks.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer (or a stand mixer if you are lucky enough to have one), combine the softened cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and vanilla extract and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat on medium speed until just smooth. Then, in a double boiler over medium high heat, melt the chocolate morsels until smooth. Allow the chocolate to cool for a couple of minutes, but while still liquid, add it along with the sour cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix well.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Do not over-mix!! This is very important if you want to have a light, tender texture for your cheesecake.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is almost set (i.e., it jiggles just a little bit if you shake the pan gently). If you are worried about cracking, you can bake your cheesecake in a water bath, but remember to line the outside of the springform pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping into the pan.
When the cheesecake comes out of the oven, run a sharp, narrow knife around the rim of the pan (but don't release the spring yet. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely before removing the rim of the pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Garnish with whatever you want! I used M&M's, which was a hit, but you could use fresh berries, chocolate syrup, mint, or whipped cream. Whatever you like with chocolate will be a perfect garnish for this cheesecake.