Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dulce de' Leche Cheesecake with a Chili Chocolate Ganache

As a rule I don't like cheesecake... most of the time I will even turn down a piece if it's offered. I've always figured that if I was going to eat 800 calories than I darn well better really enjoy them. Cheesecake usually has an unpleasant sweet/sour tang to me and it's always kind of moist yet dry all at the same time. Occasionally I've seen one dressed up beautifully with all sorts of scintillating toppings and I've given it a hopeful taste only to realize that it was just like every other cheesecake that has let me down.

But this cheesecake that I am going to share with you has erased all of my fears and disappointments and has helped me to realize that it's not that I don't like cheesecake, I don't like bad cheesecake. Needless to say my hips will never be the same.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Chili Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Taste of Home

1-3/4 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 35 cookies)
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (13.4 ounces) dulce de leche*

Chili Chocolate Ganache:
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsn unsalted butter

*I found the Dulce de Leche in the Hispanic section at my local Walmart

Using a food processor grind up the gingersnaps, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon until fine. Add the melted butter until ingredients are moistened. Pre-grease a 9" springform pan, wrap the outside bottom and sides in a double layer of aluminum foil. Apply the crust mixture evenly on the bottom and half way up the sides of the pan.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk, flour and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour into crust.

Pour dulce de leche into a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at 50% power until softened. Drop dulce de leche by tablespoonfuls over batter; cut through batter with a knife to swirl.

Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes* or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.

Pour the chocolate chips, chili powder and heavy cream into a microwave safe bowl. Mix together, microwave in 30 second intervals until all of the chocolate is melted. Add the butter and stir. Allow the ganache to cool until it is lukewarm, spoon over the top of the cheesecake and smooth. Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake overnight, when ready to serve unmold it from the springform pan.

*It took me 75-80 minutes in my gas oven for the cheesecake to cook.

Serve this with a glass of cold milk to help cut the richness.