What inspired this decadence? Well, it is chocolate month at Foodies+! Since chocolate is such a magical ingredient, I really wanted to create something spectacular. I remembered I'd long ago tried a hot chai spiced tea with a squirt of dark chocolate sauce and that it was an incredibly special combination. Then I thought why not try incorporating those flavors into a cheesecake? I had a little trouble at first, using my lemon cheesecake bars as a guide for how long to bake my cheesecake, and at what temperature. I must have forgotten how hot my oven runs, because my first attempt dried out and cracked pretty severely. It tasted fine, but was nowhere near as smooth and luscious as my second attempt. Full disclosure: despite my best efforts my second cheesecake cracked just a bit. But ganache can hide a multitude of sins. Thank goodness it is also a perfect finishing touch on an amazing dessert!
Chai Chocolate Cheesecake
Makes 9” cheesecake
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 Tablespoons sugar
8 (full sheet) chocolate graham crackers, crushed
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces good quality belgian chocolate
10 spice cloves
6 green cardamom pods, gently cracked
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 earl grey tea bag
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 jumbo eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3 ounces good quality belgian chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon clarified butter
1. Assemble the crust: mix together chocolate cracker crumbs and sugar, then add melted butter. Toss until thoroughly combined. Press mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9” spring form pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set in fridge for one hour.
2. Chop chocolate for filling and put into a medium mixing bowl.
3. In a larger bowl, use a mixer to cream together eggs and cream cheese.
4. In a small saucepan combine cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, tea, vanilla and one cup cream. Steep on the lowest possible heat for 20 minutes, watching carefully. If it begins to bubble take it off the heat and stir for a few seconds to cool it back down.
5. Preheat the oven to 350. Fill a roasting pan or large baking dish with 1/2 inch boiling water and place on the lower rack of the oven.
6. Pour the hot cream through a fine mesh sieve and into the chopped chocolate in small amounts, stirring to thoroughly incorporate in between (should take about 5 pours). When all the cream is in, stir until the mixture has become smooth (all chocolate pieces are melted).
6. Combine chocolate and cream cheese, mixing thoroughly. Fold in sugar and corn starch. Pour mixture over crust in spring form. Spread evenly.
7. Bake for 10 minutes at 350, then turn heat down to 300 and bake for another 40 minutes.
8. Allow the cheesecake to chill in the fridge at least one hour and up to six before making the ganache topping.
9. Chop remaining chocolate. In a small saucepan heat cream and whisk in butter. Add hot cream to chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is thoroughly melted and ganache is smooth and shiny. Pour over cheesecake, spreading with a spatula over the entire surface.