Chocolate Cheesecake

December 12th, 2008  | Category: Cheesecake, Chocolate

Chocolate Cheesecake

Isn’t it outrageous that a food blogger who is a shameless chocoholic AND a die hard Golden Girls fan does NOT have a chocolate cheesecake in his repertoire? As far as I’m concerned, he should have written THE book on chocolate cheesecakes by now. Shame on me.

The truth of the matter is, I lack one very important ingredient here in Istanbul: cream cheese. Actually, cream cheese in Turkey refers to a cheap, artificial-looking (and tasting), savory cheese spread. For cheesecakes and desserts alike, our best option is Labneh, a soft cheese prepared by simply straining yogurt. It has a similar consistency with cream cheese, but contains half the fat and nearly twice the water. Because of these two qualities, I have never been completely satisfied with the cheesecakes I’ve baked. Although I’m far away from writing THE book on chocolate cheesecakes, I’m proud to say that a recent experiment led to the smoothest cheesecake I’ve ever baked.

If you’re living in the US or any other country with Philadelphia cream cheese overflowing from its supermarket shelves, this revelation is of very little interest to you. At any case, please keep reading on. Who knows, one day you might find yourself in a supermarket in Turkey, with an unstoppable cheesecake craving, not knowing what to do with the poor cream cheese substitute you just bought. And then you’ll be thankful you’ve read this.

By the way, don’t even get me started with alternatives like Ricotta and Mascarpone. I find Ricotta cheesecakes to be on the bland side and an 8-ounce tub of Mascarpone costs 15 USD (!) in Istanbul.

Chocolate Cheesecake 2

What you need to do is to simply strain the hell out of four 8-ounce tubs of Labneh. The straining process (for an hour) gets rid of almost a cup of water! The result is a smooth and dense cheesecake – just the way I like it.

I am not a fan of cookie bases, so I prepared the crust myself. It is basically an adaptation of my house cookies, which I really should write about someday. Next, I developed a basic chocolate cheesecake filling and started testing it on friends. The first trial was a success, but a couple of fellow chocoholics weren’t as happy as the rest.

So I did what I always do when developing recipes that have chocolate in it. It is basically looking for an answer to a very important question: How much more chocolate can this recipe handle? And it goes something like this… On the second time around, you double the amount of chocolate. Feel like the recipe will benefit from even more chocolate? Don’t be skimpy, double it again. Genius, right?

Nearly three quarters of a pound of chocolate that is. And you’d think it’s too much? Think again, because the last time I baked this, I seriously thought it needed a thick, creamy chocolate glaze on top.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go get my Golden Girls fix.

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE RECIPE

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp sweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 tbsp butter, cold and cut into small cubes

For the filling:

  • 1+2/3 pounds cream cheese (or Labneh*), at room temperature
  • 11 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

* If you’re using Labneh, place 2 pounds of it on a strainer lined with 4-5 sheets of paper towel and wait for half an hour. Turn the cheese upside down on a fresh set of paper towels and strain for another half an hour. This will yield approximately 1+2/3 pounds of strained Labneh cheese.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment.
  3. To make the crust, put the almonds into a food processor with a metal blade and pulse until finely ground. Add flour, salt, sugar and coconut flakes and pulse until finely combined. Add butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and mix until the dough gathers around the blade.
  4. Turn the dough into the pan and press evenly on the bottom (you can also line the sides if you like a thinner crust).
  5. Freeze the crust for about 20 minutes and then bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Cool the crust until it reaches room temperature.
  6. To make the filling, working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, then beat in sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla, cornstarch and salt and beat for another 10 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Pour in chocolate and beat until completely combined.
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer and rap it hard on your counter to knock out the air bubbles trapped inside the filling.
  8. Scrape the batter into the cooled crust and bake at 325F for 55-60 minutes,.
  9. Allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours (it will stay fresh for 3 days).
  10. To serve, run a knife between the filling and sides of the pan, then open and remove the sides of your springform pan.
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    Comments

    1. 1 - grac on December 12th, 2008

      I think is it worth recommending to go easy on the beating (having all ingredients at room temperature, as you point out, is key).

    2. 2 - özge on December 12th, 2008

      asl?nda iç malzemesin tabi damak zevkine göre ekler yap?labilir. bu cheesecake in ayn?s?n? yapm??t?m. iç malzemesine biraz limon kabu?u rendeside koymu?tum. çikolata ve limon çok yak??m??t?. :) cenk bey siteniz çok güzel hem ingilizce hem de türkçe ilgi ile takip ediyoruz.

    3. 3 - Shannalee on December 12th, 2008

      It made me laugh out loud to know you watch Golden Girls! (I’ve seen them all, it’s true.)

      This cake looks amazing–good job figuring out a way around the ingredient problem!

    4. 4 - May on December 12th, 2008

      Wow! Your cake look amazing!!

      I totally understand how it feels not having standard cream cheese for purchase. Same thing here. The only solution we have here is to make cream cheese using some local yogurt, but at least the result is very good.

    5. 5 - Gera on December 12th, 2008

      Hi Cenk!

      What a beautiful recipe :) It isn’t easy to find out the correct cheese because not all the countries have the varieties for the same. A bland cheese can ruin the cheesecake!
      An outstanding cheesecake to try soon…thanks for sharing!!

      Gera .:. sweetsfoods

    6. 6 - doom on December 12th, 2008

      ham derim o keke acimadaaannn

    7. 7 - helen on December 13th, 2008

      This looks great!

      When I was living in Asia, fresh churned butter and fresh, unpasterized whipping cream were no where to be had, as were unbleached flour, good quality chocolate, buttermilk, real vanilla extract, full-fat yogurt, etc, etc. I had, though, an oven the size of a microwave with a simple on/off switch and two temperature settings – high and low.

    8. 8 - Andrea on December 13th, 2008

      This is a beautiful cake! Since Istanbul is my favorite city ever in the whole world, I would do anything to be in your situation one day. I’ll be sure to come back and re-read this post if I ever get lucky enough!

    9. 9 - mrv on December 13th, 2008

      suzme yogurt, way to go!
      ben suzme yogurtlu yaptigimda pisiriyorum. tamamiyle baska bir recipe benimki ama suzme yogurdun tadi, philedelphiadan daha iyi oluyor bana gore.
      yours look realy tasty, i’m craving cheesecake now.

    10. 10 - latifa on December 13th, 2008

      hi,

      It’s sad for a cheesecake lover like you not to find real cream cheese in turkey! But i once saw turkish cream cheese in the markets “pinar” brand, of course it’s cheaper than philadelphia brand. Did you try it?

    11. 11 - Azra on December 13th, 2008

      no – serious now! why am I never one of those who try out those trials of yours!! shame on you – and anyone who keeps chocolaty stuff away from me :(

    12. 12 - Azra on December 13th, 2008

      and the “2 forks in one plate” detail…niceeee…

    13. 13 - joey on December 13th, 2008

      That looks gorgeously chocolatey! Bravo on finding a way to make it without cream cheese!

      Love the plate too! :)

    14. 14 - autumblack on December 13th, 2008

      All the recipes on this site are AMAZING! I drool over them every time I am on the computer, I’m glad I have a place like this to come to and dream of what I could be eating, or what I can cook next!

    15. 15 - Megan on December 13th, 2008

      chocolate + cheesecake could be my favorite two words in the English language. this sounds absolutely irresistible!

    16. 16 - Manggy on December 14th, 2008

      Oh noooo! I was WAY too young to really understand the Golden Girls (though I recall being very amused by them), so I don’t quite get the cheesecake reference. Bummer! BUT I get the appeal of the chocolate cheesecake… It looks beautiful, delicious! (And not a stray crack in sight!)

      Now that you’ve described the grocery situation in Turkey, I’m quite thankful for our groceries here in Manila :P Let me guess… The savory spread is Puck? We get that here too!

    17. 17 - Sil BsAs on December 15th, 2008

      I totally understand you since in Argentina we don´t have American cream cheese anymore =( but since I can’t live without cheesecakes I replace some of the ingredients…in fact yesterday I tried a “dulce de leche cheesecake” for my husband’s birthday and it came out great!

    18. 18 - Hélène on December 15th, 2008

      I don’t know what I would do without real cream cheese. But I’ll love to visit Turkey and discover new ingredients and flavors. Your cake looks super delicous.

    19. 19 - Tamami on December 15th, 2008

      awwww…, that’s a cute plate!

    20. 20 - Cenk on December 16th, 2008

      Dulce de leche cheesecake!!!! What a fantastic idea!

    21. 21 - Cenk on December 16th, 2008

      Manggy – Whenever they have a problem that keeps them up at night, they rush to the refrigerator and pull out a cheesecake. By the time they’re done, their problems are gone. Isn’t it magical? :) I’ve never heard of Puck, but just imagine a gooey and yellowish spread that tastes like pretty much nothing.

    22. 22 - Mrs Ergül on December 16th, 2008

      While I’m not a fan of cheese, I must say this chocolate cheesecake looks great! I love the slightly cracked top!!

    23. 23 - MariannaF on December 17th, 2008

      that’s interesting what you did and thought about the labneh. i’ve never really given that a try (although I can easily get cream cheese here, but labneh never really came accross to my mind as a substitute). delicious looking cheesecake!

    24. 24 - Susan from Food Blogga on December 17th, 2008

      A guy who openly admits to his Golden Girls fixation? Rock on.

    25. 25 - Cenk on December 18th, 2008

      Mrs Ergül, MariannaF – Thanks!

      Susan – I can’t be more proud! For more click here.

    26. 26 - Sacagawea on December 18th, 2008

      I have a similar dilemma in Qatar. Although we do have Philadelphia, we go through long phases of shortages of many items. So when I do find the real deal, I make cheesecake. You can read about it here: http://figsandolives.blogspot.com/2008/03/weekend-project.html

      Thanks for the alternative, we have Labneh apleanty. I will try it next time.

      Sacagawea – former fellow Bay Area resident

    27. 27 - Cenk on December 19th, 2008

      Sacagawea – Your cheesecake looks delicious. Hope you like the Labneh version, too.

    28. 28 - Cynthia on December 19th, 2008

      I have a friend who is a huge fan of cheesecake. I think I may surprise her for Christmas and make yours.

      Happy Holidays!

    29. 29 - My Taste Heaven on December 22nd, 2008

      wow…..it’s an amazing cake. I am a huge fan of cakes! This makes me hungry~~~

      My Taste Heaven

    30. 30 - Kate on December 25th, 2008

      You’d be surprised to hear, we don’t get local cream cheese n mascarpone in Mumbai as well. Of course we get the Philadelphia cream cheese imports these days, but mascarpone – uh ah!! Ricotta is close to paneer, just very firm cottage cheese, i’ve used it very successfully as a substitute with gr8 results … but hey guess what … we dont get unsalted butter for baking and also good whipping cream ! so i hope that does make you feel better about being in Istanbul :) BTW i love labneh … and i’m drooling all over looking at that lip smacking chocolate cheesecake. There is’nt a day when i dont get me a chocolate fix , and now how i wish i could get a slice of that sinful cheesecake … Happy Holidays Cenk :D

    31. 31 - Cenk on December 29th, 2008

      Cynthia – Hope you both liked it!

      My Taste Heaven – Thanks!

      Kate – You don’t get unsalted butter? I feel much better now! :)

    32. 32 - Verochka on December 31st, 2008

      Thank you, Cenk!
      You always inspire me with your recipes.
      Look, what I cooked using your tips from this recipe.

      http://www.jamieoliver.com/bloggers/viewtopic.php?id=39345

    33. 33 - Cenk on January 1st, 2009

      Verochka – I am very flattered. Thanks!

    34. 34 - magali on March 31st, 2009

      cheesecakes are one of my favorites, and this looks really rich, looking foreward to do it sometime, thanks for sharing

    35. 35 - jade on June 19th, 2009

      hi cenk, do you have a conversion recommendation for the vanilla extract – which is far superior, but hard to find here, all i mostly see is ‘sekerli vanilin’ powder.

    36. 36 - Cenk on June 21st, 2009

      jade – “Sekerli vanilin” can be considered a substitution, but I do not recommend it as it is not natural. You might want to prepare your own vanilla extract at home. Here’s a recipe.

    37. 37 - jade on June 22nd, 2009

      thanks! i realize that vanilla extract usually contains alcohol, which is probably why they don’t have it here, but i’ve heard the dr.oetker stuff is the worst of all the vanillin powders & read online that the vanillin is made from wood pulp (the same compound that gives wine a vanilla aroma when aged in oak). never even saw it before i moved here, but i have seen vanilla beans, although usually past their expiration date. i have a stash of alcohol-free vanilla extract from the US, but running low, so i’ll definitely check out the recipe – thanks.

    38. 38 - taskeen on June 23rd, 2010

      Sounds like a wonderful recipe. I’ve used Pinar, Philadelphia and even yogurt for making cheesecakes. Tried to make healthier versions of a dessert my family adores.

      Definitely going to try labneh! Living in Dubai means no shortage of availabilty but it is heavy on the pocket.

      Thanks

    39. 39 - nina on November 7th, 2010

      i am just trying it out now because in germany you can find all types of cheese but in istanbul is different but with this labne stuff i will see how it goes my husband love cheese cake alot am happy about it thanks nina

    40. 40 - Nadia on February 21st, 2011

      Where did you get that plate? My mother had those when I was little and she is no longer around…and neither are the plates. I’d love to find some again.

    41. 41 - Cenk on February 21st, 2011

      Nadia – The plates are by Villeroy & Boch and the pattern is called Naif. You can find them here or try eBay for used ones.

    42. 42 - Selda on February 27th, 2011

      I never ever commented on any foodblogs before but crossing yours today made me laugh and one way or another I needed to leave à message after (seriously) standing hopeless about 20minutes looking between the labneh and ‘beyaz peynir’ boxes. Checking every ingredient, trying to use my ‘no-connection-internet’ and really scared feeling I needed to answer à 50-50 question in a weekend millionair episode.
      I was scared ending up with à (normally super-smooth-delicious-dream about) failed white chocolate cheesecake. Importing all the good quality chocolate and good vanilla-extract from my homecountry dealing with overweight luggage not even mentioning the energy it costed transporting it…i felt very much relieved reading you are using labneh (the ones I picked finally)…so now I have hope again to try to reproduce my cake….thanks..;))
      And Btw….vanilla extract is quiet easy to make yourself…just Google it and you can find a lot of (similar) recipes…

    43. 43 - Nikoletta ! on November 5th, 2011

      THANK GOD FOR YOUR BLOG !!!!

      i have lived in London for ten years and yes there the shelves in the super market are always overflowing with everything and cream cheese is always on buy one get one free offer ..its like they are promoting cheesecake making … but for the past almost two years i live in Istanbul and i am amazed .that all is sooo different .. i cannot find well cream cheese for one …but also single cream ,,, buttermilk , condensed milk and the list goes on..
      THANKS TO YOU i cannow make a proper cheesecake without being afraid of it being a failure .. plus i love the fact that you use real chocolate to flavour it ! most recipes i have mainly use cocoa powder and only choco shavings for deco !!!
      have to confess though i may fork out the ten and more liras to macrocentre to buy real digestive biscuits as i am partial to a cookie crust .. but i will definitely try your version of crust as it has also coconut and i looove coconut !!!
      ps .. where can i find big packs of coconut instead of that little packing that is sold in the spices section ?
      ohh i have my eyes peeled on you rblog from now on !!!!
      THANK YOU AGAIN

    44. 44 - Cenk on November 11th, 2011

      Nikoletta – Thanks a lot for your kind words. We don’t have single cream (or half and half) or buttermilk in Istanbul, but do have sweetened condensed milk. You can find it at Makrocenter (the brand is Markomilk). The fat content isn’t the same, but kefir is a good substitution for buttermilk (cheese aisle). If you’re partial to a cookie crust the Lotus cookies at Makro are highly recommended :) Unfortunately, the largest pack of coconut I came across is just a larger version of the ones you find at the spice section.

    45. 45 - Louise on November 12th, 2011

      Hi Cenk,
      have you had any luck using Labne to make cream cheese frosting? Mine always comes out lumpy. I strain it and it tastes great but I would love to find an easier solution.
      Thanks

    46. 46 - Cenk on November 14th, 2011

      Louise – Actually, Labne isn’t the problem. The powdered sugar sold in Turkey isn’t as fine as the ones sold in the US. That’s what I struggle with. And in terms of cheese, if you’re living in Turkey, I’d recommend Trakya Çiftliği mascarpone cheese instead of Labne for a smoother texture.

    47. 47 - Louise on November 15th, 2011

      Oh Thanks so much!!!
      Will try the Trakya cheese and let you know.
      Louise

    48. 48 - Minnie on April 17th, 2012

      Great twist on the recipe. LOL, you’re right it would have been very easy with a lot of Philadelphia cream cheese. Though your replacement (labneh) is very creative. Now I’m craving for your chocolate cheese cake. Luckily we have a lot of Philadelphia Cream cheese here in the local supermarket.

    49. 49 - Lara on January 26th, 2013

      Does anyone happen to know what quark or curd cheese is called in Turkey? Please answer if you know because I am certain that it exists in Turkey but I just don’t know the name to find it. I will be so grateful I really miss it even with all the amazing Turkish cheeses around.

      LOVE your website! I just found it yesterday and I am obsessed. I am making your Pomegranate Frozen Yoghurt tomorrow. I have a huge list of other recipes of yours bookmarked to make including this cheesecake which is easy since I live in Ankara at the moment and we always have Labneh in the fridge. Keep up the amazing work.

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